Jesus is risen Alleluia, Alleluia.

Dear Parish Family:

Jesus is risen Alleluia, Alleluia.

Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. Jesus requested that a Feast of Divine Mercy be established in the Church on the Sunday after Easter. He has made a great promise to any soul that would turn to Him by going to Confession and then receiving Holy Communion on that feast-day. He said, “Whoever approaches the fountain of life on this day will be granted the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment”. The Church allows for one to go to Confession for up to about 20 days, before or after Divine Mercy Sunday. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote his last and final statement to express to the world the great importance and the urgency to understand and accept Our Lord’s incredible gift of Divine Mercy. He said to all the people of the world:

"As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace.”

I want to again thank all those who made Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday services so wonderful. Special thanks for the Knights of Columbus, the sacristans, the deacons, our wonderful choirs, our altar servers, ushers, eucharistic ministers, lectors, and other ministries for all the time and hard work you put into this Holiday. Special thanks to the ladies from OLPH and St. Agnes for the beautiful decoration in our churches.

Next week we will publish our financial statement from the last two fiscal years. You will see that our financial situation is not good. We are pursuing the sales of real estate, and we have worked to reduce expenses and find creative ways to keep our costs down. Unfortunately, our weekly collections continue to decline as you can see reported every week in the bulletin, and I ask for your help and consideration to increase your weekly contributions at the Masses as your means allow.

On a positive note, we are doing well with the Annual Catholic Appeal. As of today, we have achieved 37% of our goal:

  • Goal: $67,000.00
  • Raised to date: $25,403.00
  • % of Goal: 37% (111 Donors)
  • Cash Received: $21,726.20

Thank you to those who have already donated to the Appeal. I would respectfully ask all parishioners to contribute as much as you are able to this important fund raiser. The funds from the appeal this year will go towards training for seminarians, youth programs and religious education, and other programs that serve thousands throughout our diocese. If we achieve our goal, the appeal will return much needed dollars to our parish as well.

It is wonderful to see our parish continue to grow in closeness and unity. I feel it more every day. We have new families joining our parish on a weekly basis. Please consider offering your talents to our church by joining one of our volunteer organizations.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Fernando A. Lopez, Pastor

2018 Lenten Project

2018 Lenten Project Support Request

Dear Parish Family,

This year, in lieu of our customary performance of the Living Stations, your Saints by the Sea youth group would like to invite you to be a part of a Lenten project.

It is with the sacrifice and love of our Lord Jesus in mind, that we ask you to join us in a service project that not only gives back to the men and women that have given so much of themselves to us, but truly embodies our faith.

We are referring to Operation Gratitude.  A service project that many of you may be familiar with, and one which all of us can stand behind.  As we look to unite the bodies of our soldiers with the gratefulness in our souls, our hope is that you be compelled to take part.

We will be collecting donations in the back of the church today, through March 25th; then as a group prepare care packages for our soldiers.

Some items they are in need of are:

  • Travel-size toiletries
  • Single serve drink mix packets
  • Gum
  • Lip Balm

New Entertainment Items (DVDs, CDs, magazines, paperback books, crossword puzzles, etc.)

The full list of items needed can be found in the back of the church or at operationgratitude.com.

Our prayers, words of encouragement and compassion can be our greatest gifts. 

We also invite you to write a letter expressing your gratitude and appreciation to a deployed service member and place it in the box.  They will be distributed with the care packages.

From one family to another, we thank you in advance for your physical, spiritual, and financial support of this project.

Sincerely,
Saints by the Sea Youth Group

A Music Ministry Announcement

A Note from the Parish Coordinator of Music Ministry and Liturgy:

Hello Parish Community of OLPH-St. Agnes,

As you may already know, the Mass Settings (also known as the Service Music) change with each liturgical season at our parish. A “Mass Setting” consists of the Gloria, Holy, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen, and Lamb of God. Although daily hymns may vary between the two churches, both Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and St. Agnes Church will now consistently use the same mass setting each liturgical season. As we transition out of Ordinary Time and move into Lent, we will be using the chants set by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. ICEL is a mixed commission of Catholic Bishops' Conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite. These chants are standard across the United States are are commonly known amongst Catholics. Conveniently, they are found in our Breaking Bread hymnal/missal and can be found at the beginning of the book in “The Order of Mass” section starting with the “Holy” on page 14.

On another note, during this season of Lent, you may notice a significant decrease in the volume and amount of organ/piano used during the mass. The reason for this can be found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) published by the USCCB. It states that “313...In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing. Exceptions are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.” For this reason, we will not sing meditation hymns after communion in Lent and there will be no organ preludes, interludes, or postludes. Using the ICEL chants also supports this as the chants utilize minimal instrumental accompaniment while also connecting us with the musical heritage of our Catholic faith.

As with all the parts of the mass, congregational participation is essential and necessary, so we encourage you to sing the hymns and chants loud and proud at all times as a testament of praise to our Lord.

Thank you all for your continued dedication and support to the Music Ministry of OLPH-St. Agnes. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

God bless,

Patrick B. Phillips, Coordinator of Music Ministry and Liturgy

Lenten Journey Guidance

Bishop offers guidance for Lenten journey

With this week’s arrival of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., recently issued his 2018 Lenten message, and instructions to his flock on a faithful observance of Lent. 

In his message, Bishop O’Connell shared a family memory of his mother’s love for cooking and baking, recalling that on special occasions she would often check the recipes even though she had long committed them to memory.  “She wanted to get it right for her family,” the Bishop wrote. 

The Bishop stressed the importance of “getting it right” as Lent arrives.  He writes:  “As we begin the Holy Season of Lent, our thoughts turn once again to this penitential time of grace the Church gives us every year for the forty days before Easter!  This is an important period in our Catholic life deserving some serious reflection and attention on our part.  We need to ‘get it right’ and the Church offers us some ‘recipes’ to help us on our Lenten journey.” 
The ingredients in that recipe, the Bishop explains, are prayer, almsgiving and fasting, which he expands to include “Pray more intensely,” “Go to Confession,” “Give something” and “Give something up.” 

You can read the full text of Bishop O’Connell’s message here or listen to a podcast of it here. 

In issuing his guidelines for Lent, Bishop O’Connell identifies the following: 
The days of FAST (only one full meal) and ABSTINENCE (no meat) are Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and Good Friday, March 30. No dispensations are granted on these solemn days except for reason of sickness or those provided in Canon Law below. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year; since Ash Wednesday is one of only two solemn penitential days, no dispensations will be granted. All other Fridays of Lent are days of ABSTINENCE. 

You can review the Lenten guidelines here

Bishop O’Connell  will celebrate Mass for Ash Wednesday in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton. Stay connected with TrentonMonitor.com for Ash Wednesday coverage beginning late in the day. 

Annual Catholic Appeal

From the Pastor Desk

This weekend is Pledge Sunday for the Annual Catholic Appeal throughout the Diocese of Trenton. Each year the Bishop seeks the support of all the members of the diocese to further the work of our ministries. Each of us has a vital part in all we do in Christ’s name, and each of us can share in all we do with a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Our single Act of Faith propels the works of love that build up our Church. You make that happen with a generous gift to the ACA. This year Our Lady of Perpetual Help-Saint Agnes Parishes share of the goal is $72,000. As the people of the Diocese of Trenton, you have an opportunity to help others see Christ working in our midst. I ask you to take a moment and truly reflect on any help you can give. We truly need everyone to participate. This year we again are striving to reach our goal of $7 million. I am always grateful and moved by the level of support you give to our parish. I thank you for this support, and may God continue to bless you and your family.

Rev. Fernando Lopez, Pastor

From the Pastor: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Family of OLPH-ST. Agnes,

 Father Martin Biglin, our new weekend assistant.

Father Martin Biglin, our new weekend assistant.

I would like to formally introduce to you, Reverend Martin Biglin. Father is a retired Priest from the Archdiocese of New York who resides in Atlantic Highlands. You may have seen him as he is pictured here, in the pews as a parishioner at a Saturday evening Mass, until recently. We are thrilled to have him join us to celebrate/concelebrate Masses at Our Lady of Perpetual Help- St. Agnes Parish. Father has been in the priesthood for 50 years he was ordained on May 27th, 1967 by Cardinal Spellman. He served at Sacred Heart, Barry Town and St. Christopher, Red Hook from 1967 to 1971.

From 1971 – 1987 he was at St Barnabas in the Bronx and then moved to Holy Cross in Manhattan until 1990. Father served as the Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus in New Rochelle and as the Episcopal Vicar and Dean of the South Shore of Westchester from 1990 until he retired in 2016.

Father told me he realized he wanted to serve here at OLPH-St Agnes because of the inclusionary spirits of our parishioners and the warmth he felt in our congregation. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to Father and welcome him personally.

Thank you to those of you who went to the Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday night in the OLPH gym. The food was excellent. I especially appreciate John Flynn, the Knights of Columbus, our Youth Group and our servers for their hard work and “cooking expertise”!

Additionally, I want to recognize the Holy Name and Rosary Altar Societies for a wonderful Parish Communion Breakfast last Sunday at the Bahr’s Landing in Highlands. We had a great turn out of our parish family. Two Churches. One Family.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Rev. Fernando A. Lopez, Pastor

Faith to Move Mountains Update

Faith to Move Mountains campaign nears another milestone

As the Diocese and its parishes enter the homestretch of the multi-year endowment campaign, Faith to Move Mountains, there is much cause for gratitude.

As of Sept. 5, 22,709 donors from the Diocese’s 107 parishes across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties have pledged nearly $70 million – about 94 percent of the campaign’s $75 million goal. Of the almost $70 million, more than $31 million has been collected to date, and 38 parishes still are in the campaign process.

“While the goal of $75 million seemed a stretch of what was possible in the beginning, achieving $70 million at this point shows the willingness of our good people to invest in their own future,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., said in acknowledging the generous response of parishioners toward the campaign. “In addition to their generosity and commitment, the efforts of many pastors and the diocesan Department of Development staff bear witness to the importance of this initiative, the first of its kind in the Diocese of Trenton since 1992. We will continue with our efforts through December, 2017.”

In addition to helping the Diocese meet its long-term needs to better serve the faithful, Mariann Gilbride, theDepartment of Development’s associate director, offered how Faith To Move Mountains benefits the parishes, too.

She explained that a parish will receive 30 percent of every dollar collected up to its campaign amount. Should a parish collect over its goal amount, 70 percent of the overage will be returned for local needs and priorities.

She also noted that each parish was asked to submit a case statement indicating how the return money would be used. The majority of the parishes are looking to reduce debts, make improvements to buildings and grounds, develop new ministries and update technology. Gilbride said that to date, $8.5 million has been returned to parishes. The most recent rebate alone was more than $2.4 million.

You can learn more about the Faith to Move Mountains campaign in this story from The Monitor.