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Dear Parish Family:
We are well underway with this very cold Lenten season. This past week we had our Parish Mission with Father Dan Pattee. Our Parish Pastoral Council got involved in working together to give input on how the mission could engage more of our people. Many parish groups and organizations came together in a beautiful way to provide a hospitable and prayerful background for the Holy Spirit to work in people's hearts for conversion.
One of the most important factors was the remote preparation that took place where over 70 groups of religious sisters and brothers were asked to pray for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit on our parish during the days of renewal. We recognize that no matter how much we may plan and no matter how good the preaching may be, hearts only change when God's grace is poured out and accepted.
In fact, from the many stories I have heard about those who came to the mission, hearts were touched. The whole mission was also covered in prayer with Eucharistic Adoration day and night. So many people came to pray before the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. This honored our Lord and I know that it has given great spiritual energy to our parish.
In order to draw the whole parish into the mission, I asked that groups would not meet in order to orient everyone to focus on a Spiritual renewal. The only exception was for Religious Education students who were given a special lesson on the Eucharistic presence of Christ and prayer and taken to meet Jesus in the Church. I am so grateful to the Catechists who so lovingly prepared our students for this great meeting! The 8th graders in our John Paul II Confirmation program were treated along with other parishioners to a Lenten soup supper on Monday night prepared by members of the Lord Supper Ministry, and dined in the gym that was set up by the High School Youth Ministry. I am especially grateful to Mrs. Pat Beckman who organized and did much of the cooking. We all agreed this was a wonderful way to be a living community and hope to be able to do more of these events. Please consider offering your help to prepare one of these meals in the near future! Many of our 8th graders and their families commented that it was fun to eat together, and I suspect that it softened their hearts to be more attentive to God's love during the preaching in the Church later.
Each night we collected food to be given to local communities. We sent food to our own Hope House pantry as well as to Flemington Food Pantry. One night was dedicated to canned and dry goods for the Carmelite nuns right here in Flemington, who depend on donations such as this for their livelihood. We also collected food for the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal in New York City, where one of our own parishioners, Stephanie Beach, is now a postulant in formation to become a Franciscan Sister. The parish Young Adult group made a trip into the City the Saturday after the mission to bring our food donations, which filled their empty pantry! It was a much appreciated gift for their soup kitchen supplies.
Each night needed so much care by so many groups of people. Members of the Stewardship Committee, Liturgy Committee, the Evangelization Committee and the Knights of Columbus served as greeters and ushers. The Marriage Ministry provided hospitality on the closing night.
The entire event was a collaborative effort of so many sectors of parish life and I am deeply grateful for everyone's participation. Now we must pray that the real fruit of conversion will be borne in our hearts. Missions are not simply to entertain us a few nights and then we get on with our life, but rather so our life gets infused with Christ's spirit to live more like Him. This is our goal of Lent, to be more like Jesus in every way.
This coming week I invite you to another parish opportunity to grow closer to Jesus. On Thursday night, March 12 at 7:00 pm we will host a special presentation on the Shroud of Turin. In this professional presentation, historical and spiritual insights will be given to inspire us to the details of Jesus death and mystery surrounding his burial clothe.
During Lent, the Church turns more deeply to repentance. Please pray and resolve to make a good confession this Lent before Easter. We have confessions on Saturday March 21 from 3:00 pm – 4:45 pm and then we have our parish Lenten Confessions on Sunday March 22 from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm. We will have 15 priests available that afternoon for confessions. There will be no service, the priests will be at their places to hear confessions beginning at 4:30 pm and the Eucharist will be exposed in the Church for prayer and reflection.
Please keep our parish in your daily prayers as we move toward celebrating Easter.
Peace and Prayers, Father Tim
† Herb Braun
† Veronica April
† Abbie Hartnett
† Jacqueline Ryan O’Donnell
† Art Astorino
† John Corrigan
† Regina & Nick Salvati
† Joanna Roura
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