Baptism of the Lord – B 2021
My brothers and sisters in the Lord!
It’s been a few weeks since I posted on our website. As many of you know, I spent Christmas week in the hospital. It basically started when we were exposed to COVID. I went to the hospital was tested negative to the virus. I had NO symptoms. While there a few hours later, I was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia and after another test, I tested positive to the virus and so I spent Christmas week in the hospital. I still had neither temperature nor symptoms of the virus (never lost taste or smell). When I was released, the doctor thought it would be best to quarantine until at least the 17th of January – which I have been doing. I am doing much better. My only two complaints are not being able to celebrate Christmas this year with you in Church and the loss of energy and tiredness I have had during this healing process.
I never got to thank so many people that made it possible to celebrate Christmas and to get everything together to make a perfect setting in our Church. The following spent a lot of time in setting as well cleaning up at the end of the Christmas Season. We are grateful to our Knights of Columbus for once again donating and setting up the trees, among them: Nino & Christine Donato, Jim Rowe, Dominick Cucinello, Tom Pucci, John Calicchio, Joe Vasta and Steve Picciano. We are grateful for the love and care of setting up our “Presepio” (Nativity Scene); done yearly by Sergio, Domenica & Joseph Pavone and Phil & Gilda Cuzzi. The Franciscan Sisters, under the direction of Sr. Cathy Lynn, took care of setting up the flowers, changing the altar cloths and doing the final touches needed to make it a perfect setting. Gina and Alex Tamburri each year take care of Our Lady of Sorrows Shrine Room. They donate the flowers and take care of the candles. There are many behind the scenes volunteers including Frank Biviano, Laura Frattura, Joanne Pham as well as many others (forgive me if I have forgotten anyone by name) who have given of their time, talent and treasure of heart for the benefit of our parish.
The COVID this year put a twist in our lives and I was panicking and stressing that the rug would have been pulled from us as it was at Holy Week and Easter and that everything would have been cancelled. Praise God that we were able to celebrate as there were several parishes within the Archdiocese that were closed during Christmas week due to an outbreak of the COVID. I was venting to one of our parishioners about this and the parishioner thanked me for continually instilling the importance of being safe, wearing a mask, sanitizing and staying home if not feeling well. I know I sound like a broken record concerning this but the situation of the pandemic we are in is serious. Reservations for mass were mandated and we took all necessary required steps to remain within the guidelines of social distancing.
I am grateful for all of our ministries: The choir under the direction of Tony Zimmermann and Nancy Cardone worked to have challenging choir rehearsals for Christmas by staying safe according to the guidelines. A video was sent me of one of the songs which the choir sang – I am sure all can agree it was excellent.
A special thank you, to all of our Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Altar Servers, Ushers who lovingly serve in their ministries. Thank you is not enough for Ed Gesumaria and all that he does for our parish especially during this pandemic including the constant cleaning and sanitizing of our church and buildings – all done to make it safe for our parish family.
Fr. Francesco and Fr. John have taken over the reins during the Christmas Season and I am truly grateful for the gift of them in my life. God has truly blessed me with prayerful and caring men. I have great
respect and admiration for both in their ministry and the gift of their own spirituality which they share so freely.
I ask you to keep in prayer our principal of GSA and all the teachers and aids of our school. Also keep in prayer our students and parents most especially during this difficult time of the pandemic. Much patience is needed as our teachers face the challenge of teaching – with some students learning in class while others, virtually.
Please pray for the Filippini Sisters in our convent, in particular Sr. Frances and especially for the retired Sisters at Villa Walsh who are on lock down because of COVID. The Sisters are an important part of the history of our parish. Pray for them especially for an increase of vocations to their community.
Today as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, Jesus, at the Jordon, hears the words of the Father affirming and confirming his true identity as the beloved Son of God. This powerful affirmation brings to Jesus all the calm confidence of a person who knows who he is. God’s Spirit is poured into him. Jesus is able to go out and begin his public life and work. He is fitted for that task by the voice of his Father and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The same voice and Spirit are given to all Christian people. We are a baptized people and the gifts have been given to us. As the prophet Isaiah says: “I have made of you a witness to the peoples, a leader and master of the nations.” This is what our vocation is. WE might not remember the day of our baptism, if we were mere babies in the arms of our parents, but that does not matter; We are baptized and confirmed people, and God has bestowed favors upon us. Today is the day to respond to the favor you have received, that is God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in you. We must all remember in God’s eyes we are not just a face in the crowd. Each one of us is a child of the living God and God’s favor rests upon each of us.
As we begin the journey in this New Year 2021, let us pray through the intercession of the Holy Family, that it will be a grace-filled year with good and happiness for not only our community, but the world according to his plan for us. Please remember not to let your guard down and to keep safe during these challenging times.