Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As I mentioned in my letter last week, we recently had very important events in our parish. I would like to give you an update:
First meeting of the parishes that began the process of collaborative on June 1st. All the pastors of parishes becoming collaboratives had a meeting with their parochial vicars at the pastoral center. At this meeting, a team from the archdiocese gave us an overview of the whole process of collaboration. Because our parish will not be working closely with another parish, also known as a “stand alone” parish, our process will be easier. I will be attending more meetings to learn more about how to lead the parish in this process. A group will be created that will be working on a strategic pastoral plan to be implemented in our parish. This will be a long-term project. The team will be assembled by December, and the members themselves will also attend some formation meetings. Then we will be working on writing a plan to be implemented in the parish focusing on vocations, evangelization, strengthening the parish and making disciples. We will be hosting some information sessions and some training in the parish opened to everyone.
Our Parish Council met on Monday, June 17th, to inform all the members about the latest events in our parish. We began by meditating on the Gospel reading that was read two weeks ago, the feeding of the multitude. Then we went over the main events that have happened this year. I gave an update on the fire restoration, the situation of the school, the departure of Fr. Andrea and the coming of Fr. Przemek, multilingual events, Brazilian Festival and the search for a new Music Director. Then we moved on to speak about the future of our parish mainly the process of collaborative and hiring a youth minister. We spoke a lot about the need to improve communication. We are currently changing our website to make it more secure and user friendly. We are also looking into adopting an App or program to facilitate the communication between the parish and the parishioners. Finally, we spoke about some initiatives that would be good to have in our parish: ministry for the elderly, young adult group, an evening of praise and worship with adoration, a post-baptism program, and having a School mass every month. We concluded the meeting talking about the need to strengthen the parish council and set terms for each member. Our next meeting will be on August 16th.
The following day we had a meeting with the school commission (school board). New members were appointed and introduced to the commission. Now we have 12 members, in addition to the priests and school staff. We will be publishing a little bio of each member so that everyone gets to know who they are. After a brief overview of the past, Mr. Pablo Martinez, the school principal, gave a report of what was done in the first month under his leadership and the vision that he has for the school. Enrollment was the main focus, especially looking for alternative ways to bring more students to our school. We are also looking at different ways to provide financial help to students in need. We began visiting some businesses and approaching individuals to see if someone would sponsor one child who wants to have a Catholic Education, or contribute to pay part of a child’s tuition. Much was done to continue to improve our Curriculum and we are in the final stages of the planning of the new Science/STEM Lab. Hopefully in July we will begin the work. We concluded the meeting by creating new subcommittees dividing the work on Enrollment, Curriculum, Religion, and Finances. Our next meeting will be July 8th.
I would like to thank all those who supported and helped our Brazilian Festival once again. It was a great evening filled with people, games and great food. A special word of gratitude to our volunteers and our organization committee who worked so hard for the great success. Another great result was our raffle. We almost sold out of all the 1,400 tickets we had. All together, we were able to raise between $55,000-$60,000. All of that will go towards our restoration fund. Once again, THANK YOU.
This weekend everyone is welcome to take a peek at the restoration work that is going on in the upper church. Two weeks ago all the scaffolding came down as we finished the cleaning and the painting of the ceiling. Last week the last pews were taken out for sanding and refinishing. They will also get new padding. Now we are finalizing the choice of the floor before we begin the work to change the floor. Ideally we will finish the new floor by early September so that we will be able to install the new pews. All the work is planned to be done by November 1st. As soon as our new website starts working, we will begin advertising the online giving of the restoration fund. In the meantime, there are green envelopes available at the back of the chapel if anyone would like to make a contribution to the fund. Any donation can also be mailed to the parish office. Please keep us in your prayers so that everything goes smooth and on schedule.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There were a lot of things that happened this week that I would like to share with you. We had a meeting with the parish council, and the new members of the school commission who came together to help us turn the school around. We have about 20 potential students who visited the school and are in the process of enrolling in our school. We also had the Brazilian Festival which was a great success. These things are extremely important and next week I will share the progress with you. Here is something else that I would like to share with you.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.Everything began in the region of Liege in Belgium back in the 1200’s. Liege had a monastery that had a great devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Indeed, the city became known as the Eucharistic Cenacle. At that time, a young nun, Saint Juliana, had a vision of a Splendid full Moon with a dark spot. It represented the splendor presence of the Church on earth, but it was lacking a liturgical feast when the faithful could contemplate the Holy Eucharist. After many years that she kept the secret vision to herself, she finally revealed it to the local bishop. After some hesitation, he finally agreed to create this feast in his diocese and soon it spread all over the world. Eventually, in 1264, this feast became official in the whole Church.
My intention of sharing the origin of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, as it is also known, is to highlight the importance of vocations. When speaking about Vocations, Cardinal Sean always says that “it’s everyone’s business.” Without the vocation to the religious life of St. Juliana, we would never have this Feast that we celebrate today. Without our priests, we would not have the gift of the Eucharist either. Therefore, it is imperative that all of us promote vocations to religious life and priesthood. Parents, grandparents and friends often ask younger and older children what their aspirations are growing up. At that conversation, we all should suggest the vocation to serve Christ! Holy matrimony is without a doubt also a beautiful vocation that also needs attention. But we barely see young women and young men becoming nuns and priests. Besides promoting vocations among family members and acquaintances, we must also pray for them. Out of 1.3 billion baptized Catholics in the world, there are 414,582 priests (36,580 in the US) 51,535 professed men religious (3,897 in the US) and 648,910 religious sisters (44,117 in the US). [These numbers are from 2017 provided by CARA]. These numbers together mean that we have 1 priest for close to 3,100 people (which would be close to one priest serving IC and St. Michael’s in Hudson alone). In chapter 9 of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus sees his people “distressed and scattered,” he says “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Let us pray for men and women, that they may hear God’s calling to a life of Holiness serving Him by “losing” lives, so that others may gain Christ.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this day I would like to share a story with you. I don’t know if you have heard it before. It is about a father who would always tell his son, “no matter what, I will always be there for you when you need me.” Back in 1989, there was a very strong earthquake that killed thousands of people and levelled many cities. One of the buildings, that was destroyed, was the school of this father’s child. After securing the safety of his wife, he made his way to what was left of the school. Since he walked his child to school every day, he remembered where he could start looking for his child. As time passed, many people came to console him and to discourage him from continuing to looking for his child. But since he had made this promise to his son, he felt compelled to continue looking for him. After almost two full days of pulling debris out of the rubble, his father heard his son’s voice. As the child heard back from his father, he turned around to a dozen of his classmates saying, “I told you that my dad would come for me.”
I wanted to share this true story with you, because our Heavenly Father has made the same promise to us, “no matter what, I will always be there for you when you need me.” There are times when we think that God may have forgotten us, or has not paid attention to our needs, but he is always there. Often during football games and in other sports events, there is always someone holding a sign that says “Jn 3:16”. It’s a quote from the Gospel of John that says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him ...may have eternal life.” This is what our Father does, he saves us and gives us eternal life. We are called to be like this child from the story, we must be firm in our belief, that our father will come to our rescue even amid our hopelessness he reassures us that...there is always hope.
Let us pray that all of our earthly fathers may resemble our Heavenly Father and that they may care for their children through the spirit.
Let us also pray for ourselves, the children, that we may always believe that our fathers do their best to love us and care for us.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is my joy to share with you three of our Eighth graders who will be celebrating their graduation from Immaculate Conception School on Saturday, June 8th after the 4:30pm mass. They are:
Milagros Gutierrez Milly will be attending Montrose School
Raquel G. Louis Raquel will be attending Marlboro High School
Nithya N. Vuppalapati Nithya will be attending Marlboro High School. Nithya received the honor of class Valedictorian.
On behalf of the Immaculate Conception Parish, and School community we would like to congratulate them on their accomplishments! May the Holy Spirit guide them as they move on to their next journey and take the foundation that they learned here at Immaculate Conception.
Please also join me in congratulating Deacon Chuck for completing a Master’s in Theological Studies (MTS) from the TINE (Theological Institute for the New Evangelization) program at St. John’s Seminary on Tuesday, May 21st.
Father Steven Clemence