Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
HAPPY EASTER! As we celebrate the eighth day of Easter, I take this opportunity to remind us all that we celebrate the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus for the entire 50 days of Easter! We continue to bask in the glory of what we celebrated last weekend, namely, that Jesus Christ has Risen from the Dead. So, once again, Happy Easter!
Easter this year was different to say the least. From the many people I have heard from whether by phone, text, email, or a note in the mail, it is clear we all experienced a different kind of Easter celebration than ever before. This year there was a strangeness surrounding Easter. Things were unusually quiet. We could not celebrate as we “normally” would have. Families could not gather for an Easter meal. Kids could not be seen playing in yards with their extended family and friends as they have in the past. It felt strange.
For us, your priests, it was no different. We could not gather with family and friends to celebrate the joy of this central holiday. The church was practically empty except the few who were there to help us. The rituals and their words were the same, but they sounded more solemn and somber perhaps than ever before. It was very strange for me after 17 years of leading the people of God in a joy-filled celebration of this announcement. It was very strange for Father Federico as he marked his first Easter as a priest of Jesus Christ to do so without the throngs of people who normally would have gathered with him at the altar of God.
And yet, despite it all, Jesus Christ still rose from the dead. ALLELUIA! We need to hear this GOOD NEWS today perhaps more than ever. Jesus Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is triumphant over sin and death!
As I reflect on this unique experience of Lent and, in particular, Holy Week, I am filled with gratitude to so many who pitched in and helped enhance our livestreamed celebrations. I wish to take a moment to express my profound gratitude:
To Father Federico, our deacons, Sister Patricia, and the entire Pastoral Staff. I am so thankful to them for all of their work. From organizing and leading various programs throughout Lent, to collaborating with one another and volunteers to make sure events and activities went smoothly. For all their efforts which often go unseen, all they do to discern the needs of our parishioners in our weekly meetings, and for their advice and counsel to me, I am especially grateful to each of them.
To our parish staff…we are blessed with a dedicated team who work hard each day to serve the parishioners of our parish, to assist the clergy, and to ensure our buildings and grounds are cared for and properly maintained, I say thank you to each of them! These are strange times for them as well; many of them are now working remotely from home, and yet they still strive to help meet the needs of our parish family in a variety of ways, and for that we are thankful.
Thank you to Julia Atwood and all involved in our music ministry.Julia was working diligently with a special choir for Holy Week but with the social distancing in place that choir did not get a chance to share their gifts yet!I thank Julia for the evening of song she led on our livestream during Holy Week as a kind of mini-retreat, as well as for all she did to provide the music with Laura Intravia for the liturgies of Holy Week. Their gifts enhanced our celebrations and for that I thank them. The music was superb!
Thank you to all those who helped in preparing our liturgies. I thank our “Team Holy Spirit” made up of Sandra Centorino, Victoria Clarizio, Frank Johnson, and Steve Tine for all that they did to ensure we were ready and able to livestream all of Holy Week and the Sundays to come. They utilized their God-given gifts and talents to make it possible for us to celebrate together virtually. To them I say thank you! To our maintenance staff, our sacristan, and others who helped in a variety of ways to ensure we were ready and prepared I say thank you! Here is a look at the mini-network they have had to set-up in the church to bring these services and Masses to you via livestream. It is quite impressive!
A word of special gratitude to Krista Ostuno, head of our Decorating Committee who normally has many hands helping her to decorate our altar but this year did it alone. She made sure our altar was properly decorated for Easter and for you the people of our parish family. Seeing the altar so beautiful really helped us feel the joy of Easter. Thank you!
This weekend we celebrate, as we do every year on the Sunday following Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II declared this Divine Mercy Sunday while he was Pope. This devotion is a popular devotion in the life of the church and perhaps it is part of your own regular prayers. This devotion was initiated through the writings of now Saint Faustina, a young Polish nun, who sought to remind others that God is merciful and forgiving and we too must show mercy and forgiveness. This is what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition, but her writings call us to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. As our Gospel this Sunday reminds us nothing could stop the Lord from sharing His mercy and peace with His disciples, not even a locked door. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” I want that peace, don’t you?
This Sunday at 3 PM we will gather virtually for the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to conclude the Novena we began on Good Friday. Please join us on Facebook, YouTube, or our parish website! For information on the Plenary Indulgence attached to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday, please see our Apologetics article on page 12 of THIS bulletin!
See the schedule on page 6 for what you can expect to find on our various social media tools at 1PM each day!
Each Sunday we will livestream the celebration of Mass at 11AM live from Saint Bridget Church.Please continue to join us as we do what we can with the tools of social media to bring our family of faith together.Join us when you can!I know we all LONG for the day we can be together once again in church, but until then please know that Father Federico and I are going to do all that we can to connect with you spiritually and virtually.
COMING SOON! We will be offering TWO PROGRAMS VIA ZOOM for you to join us. This is another attempt for us to remain connected during these unprecedented times.
We will be offering a Book Study on the book given out at Christmas Rediscover the Saints, and a Bible Study on the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Book Study will take place on three Tuesdays, April 28, May 5, and May 12 at both 10AM and 7PM, and the Bible Study will take place on three Thursdays, April 30, May 7, and May 14 at both 10AM and 7PM. To sign-up please visit our sign-up genius at:
Rediscover the Saints:
Acts Bible Study:
Once you have registered, you will receive an email with an invitation to the ZOOM meeting. These will have a waiting room and we will have a facilitator watching the waiting room to bring you into the ZOOM meeting as soon as possible. We hope you will join us for both of these studies in this new format.
This past Thursday we also received word, which was anticipated after the Governor’s announcement that the closing of schools was extended to May 20th, that the cancellation of public Masses and liturgies in the Archdiocese will remain in effect until further notice. I have to admit I was holding on to hope that we would be able to be together sooner than later. It really saddens me that this continues to be extended. But it is done so for the safety and well-being of one another. Let’s pray that this is helping to keep the curve down and bring an end to the spread of this horrible virus. See the announcement from the Archbishop’s Office in the inset below.
Please continue to pray! Continue to pray for one another. Let us pray for our parishioners who are dealing with Coronavirus and for their families. Pray for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one during these difficult times. Pray for those who are alone and feel isolated. Pray for those who are working to care for others such as health care providers, doctors and nurses, aides, EMTs, first responders, police and fire personnel, all whom are the heroes of our day. Pray for those workers who are showing up every day to do their jobs of grocery store workers, postal workers, bank tellers, gas station attendants, etc., who are providing essential services for us despite any fears they might have. Pray for all who are in need of our prayers that in some way the Risen Lord may bring them hope, peace, and comfort during this time.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic.With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer!Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you!Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ!