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. 

An Overview of Catholic Funeral Rites

An Overview of Catholic Funeral Rites

From Delaware St. Mary Catholic Church.

Catholics believe that at death “Life is changed, not ended.”  Death is a passage to a new and fuller life, and ultimately to resurrection and eternal union with God.  The Church emphasizes life in the funeral liturgy.  The resurrection is the theme and the readings, hymns, and prayers reflect the overall tone of expectant joy.  During the Catholic funeral we gather to pray for the repose of the soul of the one who has died, and to ask that God will strengthen and console family and friends. The priest and deacon are the principal presiders of this sacred action between God and humanity, guiding those present in praying for the beloved departed and for ourselves.  The Funeral Mass is offered in intercession for the deceased person because we know that God hears our prayers for the forgiveness of the sins of our deceased loved ones.  We know that we are not alone, but are supported by God’s grace, by the community here on earth and by the communion of saints. At the funeral we derive strength from our Christian faith, which provides the true consolation we find in the resurrection of Jesus, our source of hope in times of sorrow. Our attention is centered on Jesus our Savior, who speaks to us through the Scriptures, and who comes to us in the Holy Eucharist in our time of grief.

For some who do not understand the Catholic approach, the funeral can primarily be a time for remembrance and celebration of a person’s life. For Catholics, however, the intercession for the dead and the transition to eternal union with God are the central focus of the funeral liturgy, not the person’s past but their future. While we believe a tribute to the past life of the deceased loved one can be a very good and emotional healing experience, a eulogy is not meant for the future-looking solemnity of the funeral mass. Certainly, it is fitting to laugh, cry and celebrate the life of a good person. (Hopefully, their love of God and their fellow man is central to the tribute.) However, there is a time and place for everything good, and the best place for a eulogy is not at the funeral mass. Instead, it is when people are gathered together at the wake service or at the repast when people can best take the time to truly enjoy the memories of their loved one.  

In short it comes down to this: it is good for us to gather as a human family to recall the past earthly life of a deceased loved one. Looking to each other we find support, healing and appreciation in sharing and celebrating the person we knew and loved. Then, pausing from our earthly gaze and looking to Heaven, we turn to God at the funeral mass. Together we implore our Heavenly Father for His mercy and loving embrace for the living and the dead. 

Accordingly, our Community of Our lady of Perpetual Help – Saint Agnes Parish will continue its tradition of NOT having eulogies at the funeral mass as the best way to respectfully remember the passing of our beloved deceased.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Rev. Fernando A Lopez


From the Pastor: Fr. Fernando Lopez

Dear Parishioners:

As we enter a season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the many things I am thankful for. But first some transition news. Our Business Manager, Patti Dickens, is leaving OLPH/St. Agnes for a new position for the Diocese of Trenton. When Patti started here, she took the Manager position on an interim basis, expecting to stay 3 months. Well, a year later, Patti has decided to move on! In her new position at Parish Development Associate, she will continue to interact with us and other parishes. I am grateful and appreciative of the contributions Patti has made to our parish.

Dan Neff, our Music Director, is also moving on to a new opportunity. Dan has accepted a new position at St Josephs as their full time Music Director. He will continue to work with us as our coordinator of wedding and funeral Masses. Patrick Phillips will assume the position of Coordinator, Music Ministry. Join me in wishing Patrick success as he takes on this responsibility.

We have also hired a new Business Manager, Sue Kiley. Sue retired from a National Vice President position for a large company in the healthcare market to become more involved in the community. She brings a wealth of experience and success in business management. She is currently the Mayor of Hazlet and a cantor at Holy Family Church. Please welcome Sue to OLPH/St. Agnes.

I am grateful for our volunteers, both old and new. We have a new counting team to count collections, and we need more of you to volunteer for this important job. Please consider all our Parish Ministries and ask yourself where you can contribute.

The Parish Lazarus Committee has been formed; they will be assisting with funeral planning. I thank them for their commitment to this very important ministry. I am grateful to those who have donated so generously to the “Faith to Move Mountains” campaign. The Diocese has given us $32,000 to date as a result of this program. And some special thanks for Mr. Vito Faraci for the new beautiful statue of Padre Pio he donated. The statue was dedicated in a ceremony on September 23rd and stands in front of our convent.

And I am grateful for all of you, our parishioners, our community of faithful Catholics. May God bless you all!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Fernando Lopez, Pastor

From the Pastor: Fr. Fernando Lopez

October 1, 2017

Dear Parishioners:

I would like to take a moment to thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. After our town hall meeting regarding property on the OLPH campus I have received many of the surveys back. I plan to address each of you who took the time to write to me individually.

In those surveys and letters, there were three main concerns regarding the sale of any buildings in the OLPH campus. Those concerns were as follows:

  • Parking. We must be sure that parking is resolved. I agree with this concern, and it has been the primary concern for every member of our Finance Council. We will absolutely work to resolve this issue.
  • Contract. The parishioners brought many great ideas to light. You asked for “right of first sale” should the Borough decide NOT to build a municipal building on the site. We agree and have added this to our contract with many of your other suggestions.
  • Price. Almost everyone stated that they thought the price offered from the Borough was too low. By way of explanation, those lots are currently zoned as residential – not commercial. That is why the price was valued so low. If the property were zoned as commercial, the value would have been higher.
  • Some of you said “don’t sell at all”.

Having weighed all of this input, the decision has been made to sell the property with the following conditions:

  • Parking. We will begin the construction of a new parking lot on the church campus. The rectory and the garages will be torn down. This will allow for 55 parking spaces.

The Borough will give us 120 days before they do ANY demolition or work to the parking lot. The Borough may not get the funding to build their municipal center, and in that event, we will purchase our property back. However, it is estimated that the Borough will take as much as 18 months before they are able to break ground. Therefore, parking will be resolved as we will continue to use the existing lot. When they begin construction, we will consider alternatives for parking, including adding a mass or shuttles to mass.

  • Contract. All concerns have been added to the contract.
  • Price. I agree that the price for sale is very low. This is a price that was negotiated before I was pastor. Unfortunately, I cannot change this. I am happy to report, however, that after some negotiation, I have asked the diocese for a reduction of our debt in the amount of $700,000.00. The diocese has granted this reduction, making this deal more valuable to us as a parish.

Unfortunately, NOT selling was simply not an option. I assure you all that there is NO INTENTION of closing either church. We have a great community here. Our plan is to move both the food pantry and the thrift shop into the school building and hope that they continue to thrive. I truly appreciate your feedback to me. I will continue to keep you updated regarding our projects going forward.

Yours in Christ,

Father Fernando Lopez, Pastor

Bishop O'Connell's latest statement regarding hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico

My dear sisters and brothers, 
Please remember our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico in their time of devastating loss in your prayers and charity: 

Donate By Mail 
To mail a check, please make your check payable to Catholic Charities USA (name particular hurricane) and mail your check to: 
Catholic Charities USA        
P.O. Box 17066
Baltimore, MD21297-1066

Donate Online: 

Donate by phone: 
1-800-919-9338 to donate by phone  

Gratefully yours in the Lord
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D.
Bishop of Trenton

Faith to Move Mountains Campaign

My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We read Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Jesus tells us that even the smallest seed of faith – like the tiny mustard seed of the Gospel – can move mountains. But that little seed of faith needs good soil, ample light, plentiful water to take root. No seed can grow – indeed, can move mountains – all alone or without them.

Here in the Diocese of Trenton, generation after generation of Catholics have provided everything necessary for the “mustard seed” of faith to grow and remain strong. No needwas ever too great for us. No opportunity, too negligible. No sacrifice, too much. And no mountain, too high. Our faith has brought us through the twists and turns and joys and sorrows that our lives in the four counties have brought from the very beginning.

 Now, as in every successive generation, new seeds of faith have fallen on the good soil of the Diocese of Trenton. But the world looks very different now than it did in the past. And new challenges – new “mountains” – never dreamed of before confront our faith. Can we move them? Only by strengthening the foundation of our Diocese, endowing its ministries so that new generations will hear the Gospel and embrace their faith, touching real lives not with mere words but, rather, with concrete acts of mercy and generosity as Pope Francis daily encourages.

To these ends, after much prayer and extensive conversations, the Diocese of Trenton has embarked upon a new “Endowment Campaign” – the first such effort in over twenty years – not for the sake of bricks and mortar but, rather, for the flesh and blood that make up our community of faith, so much in need of our ministries. We are calling this initiative “Faith to Move Mountains” because that is what we need to do if the faith handed on to us is to endure and grow. Now, more than ever, the mountains loom large. Only your faith and generosity will move them as, together, we continue to believe that “nothing is impossible” with God.

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.
Bishop of Trenton