Thursday, September 29, 2011


It is time, once again, for St . Andrew Catholic School’s Oktoberfest Family Fun Day. Please join us on Saturday, October 1, starting at 9am for fun, food, and festivities.  

Sixth graders Maddie and Aaron looked very festive today in Bavarian dress to promote Oktoberfest. The whole class will join them in dressing up on Saturday as they bake homemade soft pretzels.
State Representative Todd Rock will be joining us at 3:00 to draw the winning raffle tickets. Don’t miss this special treat! Also, Lesley Quesada designed custom photo cutouts of a boy and girl dressed in traditional German costume, which will make for some memorable photo ops.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have signed up to help this Saturday and to all who have donated money towards the food. For those who still need Active Tuition hours or for anyone who would like to volunteer, there are still some open slots! See the sign-up sheet on the school website. And don’t forget to drop off Bake Sale items on Friday.

We hope to see everyone there!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tithing Reaffirmation Weekend

This weekend our parish reaffirmed its commitment to tithing as a means of stewardship and discipleship.  Here are the talks from this weekend:

Witness Talk – Susan & Don Pyatt

We are Susan and Don Pyatt and we are proud members of Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish and family.  Father Bateman has asked us to speak to you today to briefly share with you our personal experience since we made our commitment to tithe.  Perhaps like many of you, we understood the definition of the word “tithe” but never truly considered it to be a “Catholic” practice…until the presentation by the McKenna Stewardship Ministry in September 2009.  Suddenly, the word “tithe” took on a whole new meaning…a life of its own…a spiritual life. 
We admit that this whole idea of committing to the concept of tithing was very scary indeed.  Let’s face it….when we talk about money, we are talking about our basic survival in this world.  It is how we put a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs.  And shamefully, in this world, it has become the only yardstick by which we measure our self-worth.  So we discussed, we argued, we fretted and we prayed… can we do this, can we survive this, is this right for us? You see, at the time, we were a one income family instead of two.  But finally, agreeing that if we take our relationship with God seriously, then we must take this step.  Because we are so much more than the money we make….because it is a total affirmation of our trust in God.  And because it is right and just. 
And so now, two years later, we can stand here and tell you that it was the best decision we ever made and the blessings just keep on coming!  A few weeks after we made our decision to tithe, we became, once again, a two income family.  We are now a “Catholic” couple as Don came into full communion with the Church in April 2010.  We have a new found freedom that has lessened our money anxieties and raised our spirits!  And, as hard as it may be to believe, we have given up nothing financially….and it feels like we have more…like the loaves and fishes….miraculous!  It is right and just.  Don and I will be forever grateful that God brought Father Bateman to this place and that Father Bateman gifted us with tithing….to completely and unconditionally trust in God in all things.  God Bless you. 

Tithing Talk – James Clement

            Hello, my name is James Clement and I want to share with you my tithing experience and how it has helped me grow closer to God.  There has always been a presence of tithing in my life. I first learned about tithing from my parents, but the terminology they used was charity and almsgiving.  Dad would always give the youngest child in our family the envelope to place in the offering basket at Church.  Even though it was not really my money, he allowed me to participate in his giving.  That is the first principle of tithing: what we are giving is not really ours but ultimately God’s.  We owe our very being, our existence, and thus all that we possess to Him.  He doesn’t even charge interest!  In fact, he only asks for 10%, the first 10%.  In this way, we can participate in God’s charity and giving just as my dad, in a sense, gave me the opportunity to participate.
            I decided that when I made any amount of money from any source, I would give 10%.  My first true opportunities came 6 years ago when I helped a friend with a paper route.  It wasn’t much of an income, but it was a start.  The beginning was sort of rough.  I would usually give the last 10% or less to God.  Though this was not a perfect tithing, God saw my desires and blessed me with a mowing job the following year that paid better.  This time I would give the middle 10% or so and usually a week or two after I made the money.  Still, I was getting better and God saw this and blessed me with a job to detail cars with a friend, which I still do by the way, on top of the mowing.  By my senior year in high school, I had 3 lawn jobs, animal sitting jobs here and there, and detailing cars here and there.
            Since seeing God working in my life and blessing with more income, every single time I received any money, I immediately saw it as an opportunity to give 10% away, a way to help someone in need.  My tithing would consist of 5% to the Church, and 5% to charity.  Charity being any cause that helps one grow closer to God: Pregnancy Ministries, Pro-Life Ministries, or a family who is financially hurting, just to name a few.  This giving needs to come from a good, infinite desire to help someone else and to give glory to God; it does not seek attention from others like the Pharisees in the streets.  I placed complete trust in God.  He has repaid the favor 10 fold each time and it wasn’t necessarily a financial reimbursement.  In fact, the best gift God has repaid me has been in my spiritual growth.  I grew closer to God and learned to place all my trust in God.  I attribute this tithing for spiritually and mentally preparing me for the death of my mother 6 months ago.  All seemed lost and I felt at times unable to continue on.  I asked myself, “When do I wake up?” and “Will our family or even I be able to push through?”  But I continued to place my trust in God even in the moments of doubt, what else could I do?
God answered, and he answered most generously.  My family grew closer together.  I was offered a full time 8 to 5 job this summer internship with Penn DOT.  I was still able to go to World Youth Day which had a tremendously positive spiritual impact on my life, more than I had originally expected.  College does not seem so overburdening anymore, and in fact, I love my classes.  I accepted the position of Sophomore Retreat Leader, which has a huge load of duties on top of school, extracurricular activities and work.  But I was thrilled to accept the position and secretly wanted an opportunity like that.  I am not overwhelmed anymore.  I still have my small worries, but peace has come into my life!  I see God in everything and everyone I meet, even if it’s small.  These are just a few of the many abundant blessings God gave me and in return, I want to keep giving more and more so God can keep surprising me!
How are we supposed to give?  That’s the second principle.  Each person will be able to give in different amounts and in different ways according to one’s capacity.  Do not worry; there are plenty of unique ways to give.  If you consistently pray to God, talk with Him, and ask for guidance from Him and others, the tithing will become good habit instead of being observed as a burden.  It will take time and it may be hard to adjust at first, but once you do and do so with a genuine heart with complete faith, God will work wonders in your life even in the roughest of times.  God will never give you more than you can handle so long as we ask for his help.  Jesus tells us not to be afraid.  Furthermore, scripture tells us that God will never be outdone in generous.  This is the only time you can, and rather are encouraged to test God, with a good heart of course.  So go ahead, give the first 10% and test God to out due you in generosity!  I attest to this truth!  Let go and let God.

Tithing Talk – Andrew Knepper

“Death itself died when life was slain on the tree.” What a powerful statement, right? This statement is actually my favorite antiphon in the Divine Office. While it is just a few words, it carries a great deal of meaning and complexity. In fact, I believe this antiphon perfectly sums up our great faith. It's about Christ dying for us so that we may have eternal life. It's about perfect love defeating all of the evil we, as sinners, have ever committed. Ultimately this antiphon is the paramount mystery—or paradox—of our faith. It's so important, in fact, that it's the first Glorious Mystery in the Rosary!
Of all of the mysteries that our faith holds, I've found a common denominator among them. And Scripture tells us this little tidbit of knowledge, too. What is this tidbit of knowledge? Well...If we give of ourselves, then we receive so much more in return. Just think...
v      if we give our entire being to God, we receive eternal life.
v      if we give ourselves totally to our spouse, we receive the fruits of sweet love.
v      if we give our time, talents and love to friends, we receive the gift of friendship
v      and the list goes on and on and on...

Well, there is another area—an area that has impacted me a great deal—in which we also can give of ourselves. And this is through the giving the gifts of material wealth to God. Now, this of course seems to be a tall order, but hear me out...  I first heard about tithing from one of Father Bateman’s homilies while I was in college. I remember Father Bateman emailing all of the college students asking us to read THIS homily because it was particularly important! Well…being a college student…I procrastinated. One day, I finally opened up Father Bateman’s email and decided to finally read his tithing homily. I didn’t exactly treat this homily with an open mind at the time—I didn’t think it applied to me—because I was a poor college student! Makes sense, right? Well…I soon found out that tithing is much different than I thought and the great thing about it is that it helps us—all of us—no matter our current state in life!
Father Bateman’s words inspired me to begin tithing. And in college I “started” although I was far from practicing it perfectly. When I graduated, I decided that I would try much harder to practice tithing…and I did. After I took my first full-time job, I started to tithe. This experience has been one of the most important of my life….Let me explain:
Tithing has allowed me to grow towards a more virtuous life. Technically all of MY money is really God’s money, but tithing has allowed me to share some of my portion with our Church and with those organizations who lend a helping hand where it’s most deserved. Tithing, in a nutshell, has allowed me to think less about me and more about my brothers and sisters in Christ and most importantly about God. Tithing has allowed me to tear down the material bonds that encompassed me for many years. I personally believe that tithing allows us to realize that there ARE needs beyond our own and as soon as we come to this realization, we reach a whole new level of spirituality.
Since I have started tithing, I have gained a new outlook on life. No longer am I focused on my plans or what I can do for myself. Now, tithing has allowed me to open my heart to God’s eternal call to communion with him and all of the great things that come with this journey. I’ve also realized that I am completely dependent on God. Without God, I am nothing. I’ve realized that if He does not will my next breath, then I will die now, in an instant. But dependency on God is a beautiful thing. There is a piece of art that depicts Christ, holding a lantern, knocking on someone’s front door. But there’s a catch! This front door has no door knob on the outside but only one on the inside. What does this mean? As Scripture tells us, we have to invite Him into our lives. And tithing has allowed me to do this more perfectly. I am truly free and able to live my life in the light of Christ and according to His will.
In closing I want to return to the antiphon that I mentioned earlier: “Death itself died when life was slain on the tree.” This paradox signifies that Christ gave Himself—all of Himself—for us. And He is now asking us to give of ourselves to receive His love and redemption. After all, this is what our Faith is all about. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that tithing will help you enter more fully into the mystery of our faith. It will allow you overcome the burdens of materialism while allowing us to materially (and spiritually) support our Church and our brothers and sisters. I hope that as you go home today you will consider the spiritual fruits of tithing and will take this small step that will yield great eternal rewards.

FROM THE PASTOR – September 25, 2011

I offer my thanks to our parishioners (Andrew Knepper, Susan & Don Pyatt and James Clement) for taking time from their families to share their personal experiences with us.  I know you’ll be inspirited as I have been.  They have volunteered to share with us today how stewardship has had a profound impact on their lives.  You know them – they are part of our parish family – and they are evidence of how our response to God, difficult though it may seem, opens us up even more to God’s great gifts.  They will be in the rear of the church after Mass to answer any questions you might have for them. 
   Today in our country, the Catholic Church continues to depend on all kinds of fundraisers for support.  Despite all the effort, it never seems adequate.  That is why I’m re-presenting, for your consideration, an approach to Church support that has its foundation in God’s inspired word.  We call it “God’s plan for Giving.”  And I truly believe that becoming a tithing parish has been the backbone of our parish’s spiritual growth and life.

Tithing in the Bible… Tithing is mentioned more than 40 times in Scripture.  Many Old Testament stories recount how God asked that the first ten percent of the land’s produce be set aside as a sign of gratitude for His goodness.  The early Church didn’t have a tithing system, but as it grew, so did its material needs.  Gradually, the Old Testament model of tithing was adopted.  A number of regional Church Councils and finally the Council of Trent made the “tithe” Church law.  With the later separation of Church and State, the law of tithing was abandoned.

And Today… In our time, the difficulty of raising funds for the growing needs of the Church has led to a modified and voluntary system of tithing.  Since 1977, more than 1000 Catholic parishes, most of them east of the Mississippi River, have become tithing parishes.  For example, my former parishes of Sacred Heart in Lewistown and Saint Jude in Mifflintown, Saint Joseph’s in Hanover and Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Palmyra.  And we know the impact that our introduction of tithing two years ago has had on our own parish!

What is a Tithe?  The word tithe means tenth.  A tithe is the first tenth of a wager earner’s income regardless of economic situations or forecasts.  As I heard one person put it: “Tithing means equal sacrifice.”  It’s giving back to God something God gave in the first place.  Tithing is not any tenth; it’s the first tenth of one’s income – salary, dividends, interest – income from any source.

How Does Tithing Work?  Five percent of one’s income is given to God through the parish church.  The other 5% can be used for the Bishop’s Annual Lenten Appeal, Catholic school tuition, care of one’s parents, special diocesan collections, and your own favorite, private charities.  The spirit of tithing, the most important part of the program, means giving to God, not to me, your pastor, or to this church.  And it means giving to a point of sacrifice, for the word sacrifice means “to make holy.”  The spirit of tithing means not caring what anyone else gives.  It is spiritual giving in every sense.  What you give to God is between you and God.  The ideal tithe of 5% to God’s church and 5% to His other words can best be explained by an example:

If your income from all sources before taxes is $300 per week, the 5% Sunday Mass offering would be $15.00.  You might give the other 5% to private charities, parish school tuition, and diocesan extra collections. 
Tithing is really very logical.  Everything we have comes from God, and when we give back the first 10% of our earnings, we’re saying to Him, “Thank you, God, for letting me use the other nine-tenths!”

What Are the Benefits to the Tither and to the Parish?  You know from our own parish experience over the past two years that when a parish adopts this method of giving, its spiritual and material status is greatly improved.  There are even entire Dioceses where, after adopting tithing, every child attends Catholic school free of cost – the stewardship of all the people of the diocese makes a Catholic education possible for anyone who wants it.  While I don’t know that that will happen here at St. Andrew’s tomorrow – it IS possible.  But what tithing will immediately do for you, individual, is tell you what God expects.  But the most important thing is the spiritual effect.  Tithing helps establish a proper sense of values.  It helps us to remember that God comes before all else and that everything we have comes from Him.

What Do We Do Now?  Nothing.  Just listen with an open heart and mind.  No one will ever call on you to ask if you are tithing; you will never be asked to sign anything.  If you have already embraced tithing as a way of life, thank you for hearing and responding to the Lord’s invitation – I’m sure that you can resonate with our witnesses today.  If you have begun, but with less than a full tithe (10%) – I invite you to trust completely in the Lord – He will never abandon you.  If you have yet to implement the idea of tithing your lives, the Lord invites you to today to recognize, as Saint Paul says today, that we must “do nothing out of selfishness… looking out [only] for our own interests.”  Rather, have the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.  Seek God’s will through earnest prayer.  And when you pray, please remember that the true purpose of tithing is to secure not the tithe, but the tither; not the gift, but the giver; not your money, but you – for God.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Benjamin L. San Fellipo

Benjamin L. San Fellipo, 90, a resident of Quincy Village and member of Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish passed away at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, in Waynesboro Hospital, Waynesboro.  Born Dec. 9, 1920, in Washington D.C., he was the son of the late Frank J. and Ella F. (Knott) San Fellipo.  Ben was a graduate of St. Paul’s Academy in Washington, D.C., with the Class of 1939.

He served in the United Sates Navy as a Yeoman 1st Class where he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base in Falmouth, England, during World War II.  He and his wife, the late Mrs. Helen A. (Manley) San Fellipo, were married Nov. 27, 1948, in Washington D.C. She passed away Sept. 22, 2006.  Mr. San Fellipo was employed as a Military Personnel Management Specialist; Office Assistant for General Officer Matters for the Department of the Air Force in Arlington, Va. He retired Feb. 27, 1976, after 38 years of service and was the recipient of the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal, the highest award given to a civilian retiree.

In addition to being a member of St. Andrew Catholic Church, Ben was also a member of the Joe Stickell American Legion Post 15 and Fraternal Order of Eagles 1758, both of Waynesboro, Harry D. Zeigler VFW Post 6319 of Greencastle, National Association of Retired Federal Employees and National AARP.

He is survived by two children, Maureen A. Willett and her husband, Russell, of Titusville, Fla., and Francis J. San Fellipo and his wife, Ruby E., of Eldersburg, Md.; one granddaughter, Jennifer E. San Fellipo; and a number of nieces and nephews.  In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by three sisters, Mildred Harris, Mary Frances Loskill and Helen Stanley, and three brothers, Paul San Fellipo, Joseph San Fellipo and John San Fellipo.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, here at the parish.  Burial will follow in St. Andrew’s Cemetery, Waynesboro, where military graveside honors will be conducted by the Honor Guard of Charles Nitterhouse VFW Post 1599, Chambersburg. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School Support for School Choice

Click here to see facts vs. myths about school choice legislation
The notebooks and supplies have been purchased and the uniforms pressed- school is back in session! The state legislature is considering school choice legislation that would give families the ability to determine which school best meets the needs of their children.  There are two great ways advocates can voice their support for school choice:

1. Visit your state legislators in their district offices

The legislature is out of session until mid-September, so now is a good time to reach legislators in their home district offices. Bring your children or grandchildren, wear your school’s colors or a button that shows your support, and read the resources here if you'd like to learn more about the issue before your visit. The message is simple: we support school choice legislation that increases the EITC scholarship program and provides vouchers to families. You can also call your legislators in the district offices. Look up their local contact information by logging into the Advocacy Network.

2. Email your legislator and ask friends and family to do the same 

As legislators prepare to vote on school choice legislation when they return in the fall, it is critical that they hear often from their constituents. Follow the links below to send an e-mail message using the PA Catholic Advocacy Network. Forward the message to friends, family and neighbors. A strong show of grassroots support will reinforce the need to waste no more time passing school choice when the legislature returns to session. Many Catholic schools and parishes also have a supply of school choice yard signs. Check with your principal or pastor to see if signs are available.

Our Lady of Sorrows - September 15

I wanted to post something about Our Lady of Sorrows yesterday, but we had some internet problems and were "off line" nearly all day - so, a day late...

Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and in Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son. The memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows was introduced by the Servites in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady's Sorrows.  In 1817 Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile but finally liberated by Mary's intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.

This memorial dates back to the 12th century.  It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church.  In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of "Our Lady of Compassion."  Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday.  In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15.  The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ.  "The Seven Dolors," the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary.  The memorial is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th. — Excerpted from Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. Paul Haffner (Inside the Vatican, September 2004)
This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus.  In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance.  

Reflecting on this memorial at Mass yesterday, I shared this thought: How could Mary be a co-Redeemer with Christ?  Remember that redemption was won through Christ's Sacrifice (and victory) on the Cross.  Mary, standing at the foot of the Cross, connected her suffering to that of her Son.  And because Mary was holy, she was able to love perfectly - which enabled her to offer and connect her sufferings to Christ in a way no one else can.  

May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:
  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Triumph of the Holy Cross

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the  tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date. Constantine later built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of her discovery of the cross. On this same pilgrimage she ordered two other churches built: one in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.  

In the Western Church the feast came into prominence in the seventh century — after 629, when the Byzantine emperor Heraclitus restored the Holy Cross to Jerusalem, after defeating the Persians who had stolen it.

Christians “exalt” (raise on high) the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the God Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ — all in one image.

The Cross — because of what it represents — is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the “little” Sign of the Cross on head, lips and heart at the reading of the Gospel; praying the Stations (or Way) of the Cross; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday by kissing the feet of the image of Our Savior crucified.

Placing a crucifix (the cross with an image of Christ’s body upon it) in churches and homes, in classrooms of Catholic schools and in other Catholic institutions, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder — and witness — of Christ’s ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross.

We remember Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves — our souls and bodies — with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory of everlasting life.

Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life.
Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Action is Needed to Protect Conscience Rights!

In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the new health care reform law), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a rule requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.
The rule includes a religious exemption so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. It covers only a “religious employer” that has the “inculcation of religious values” as its purpose, primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. A great many religious organizations — including Catholic colleges and universities, as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the public – will be ineligible. Individuals and religiously affiliated health insurers will not qualify for the exemption.

The new rule would force insurance plans to cover “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage. The FDA-approved “emergency contraception” (EC) drugs that are covered by this mandate can work by interfering with implantation of a newly conceived human being. Also, the drug the FDA most recently approved for EC, “Ella,” a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486, has been shown in animal tests to cause abortion. Thus, the mandate includes drugs that may cause an abortion both before and after implantation.

ACTION: Please send an e-mail message to HHS by clicking here. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can send a message to HHS asking them to respect religious liberty and to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that such federal mandates do not violate Americans’ moral and religious convictions.

Recently Cardinal DiNardo sent a letter to Congress asking that they correct this in this health care law.  Here is a link to his entire letter to members of Congress.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Approaching 9/11 Anniversary Prompts Reflections on Tragedy's Spiritual Dimentions

Chief Joseph W. Pfeifer, director of the New York Fire Department's Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness, attends a meeting of representatives from the city's fire, police and emergency management agencies in Fort Totten, N.Y., Aug. 23. Msgr. Martin T. Geraghty (below) distributes Communion during Mass at St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside, N.Y., Aug. 23. Msgr. Geraghty was pastor of St. Francis de Sales in Belle Harbor in 2001, where funeral Masses were celebrated for 12 victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
RYE, N.Y. (CNS) -- As Chief Joseph W. Pfeifer of the New York City Fire Department sees it, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a global trauma and the 10th anniversary of the attacks provides a transformative opportunity for the world community to pause and think about the tragedy's spiritual dimension and its aftermath.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Pfeifer was chief of the 1st Battalion, one of the first on the scene and in charge of directing firefighter response in the north tower of the World Trade Center. He met his firefighter brother in the lobby of the building as Lt. Kevin Pfeifer responded to the second alarm. They exchanged a few words, and Kevin headed up the stairs. He helped evacuate workers and directed other firefighters to safety, but he was killed in the collapse of the building.

"People were angry at God and they had every right to be, but that was not my experience," Pfeifer said in an interview with Catholic News Service. "I was walking back to the firehouse from the site on the second day, when we knew there would be no more survivors. It was completely dark except for the lights we had brought in. There was no power and there was smoke everywhere.

"Instead of anger, I felt an encounter, as if I was coming back to an old friend, or putting on an old sweatshirt. I had wrestled with God and spirituality before. I had had the experience of being in a conflicted place and trying to understand what it means," Pfeifer said.
"How do you encounter spirituality and what is your personal experience of God? Mine was very much on West Street, walking back in complete sadness, but it was a place I'd been to before."

Pfeifer graduated from Cathedral College in Douglaston, N.Y., and studied two years at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., from which he later earned a master's degree in theology. He said he was familiar with wrestling with God and trying to figure out what he was called to do with his life. He is now the chief of counterterrorism and emergency preparedness for the New York City Fire Department and addresses groups of people in many parts of the world.

Pfeifer said there is transformation through trauma.

"We used to think the 9/11 attacks were just New York and D.C., and Pennsylvania, but they were more than that," he said. "It was a global trauma, an entire world encounter and transformation occurred" when people could see that all local acts of terrorism, whether in Ireland or Israel or Afghanistan, were represented at the World Trade Center.

"It gave the victims of terrorism an international voice and showed that terrorism is a crime against humanity," he said.

People encounter spirituality in different ways, he said, and the 10th anniversary will allow people to connect their individual experiences with those of people in a larger group.

One such larger group devastated by the Sept. 11 attacks lives in Rockaway Peninsula at the southwest tip of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Rockaway is a relatively isolated section of the populous borough of Queens. Generations of New Yorkers have escaped the summer heat on its Atlantic Ocean beaches and more than 100,000 people are now full-time residents of the handful of communities that span the narrow 10-mile stretch. The barrier peninsula is known locally as the Irish Riviera because it attracted so many New Yorkers of Irish ancestry.

Rockaway is home to firefighters, police officers, emergency responders and financiers and the collapse of the World Trade Center tore a huge hole in the heart of the peninsula. Seventy residents were killed in the disaster. Many of them worshipped at one of the eight Catholic churches that punctuate the flat, sandy neck of land.

Pfeifer is a longtime summer resident of Breezy Point and worships at St. Thomas More in Rockaway Point. He described one of several memorials on the peninsula that includes quiet spaces to encourage reflection.

Msgr. Martin T. Geraghty was pastor of St. Francis de Sales in Belle Harbor in 2001. Twelve of the World Trade Center victims were buried from the church. On Nov. 12, three days after the last funeral, Msgr. Geraghty was celebrating the 9 am Mass when an American Airlines flight bound for the Dominican Republic crashed one block from the church, killing all 260 people on the plane and five on the ground, including parishioners.

"At Christmas 2001, a friend from Michigan asked if I was 'over it yet'," Msgr. Geraghty said. "I told him it'll never be over for us. It has been a defining moment in the lives of families here."

He said, "There is an ongoing role for people. The message of the Gospel didn't become irrelevant that day. We're just at the beginning: 2,000 years hasn't been long enough for our tribal human hearts to absorb the message of Jesus Christ."

Msgr. Geraghty said tribal human hearts is his way to describe that human beings have only had a short time of mindfulness since their creation and still have a long way to go.

"We're at the beginning of this. God is calling us out of tribalism into a different understanding," he said.

Rosellen Dowdell is the widow of Lt. Kevin Dowdell, who was a New York firefighter. She is a parishioner at Blessed Trinity Parish, which includes three churches in Rockaway.

"I've never blamed God," she told CNS. "I've always looked to God for an answer. I guess I always hoped there was solace in going to Church and being in the presence of God."

Msgr. Michael J. Curran, pastor of Blessed Trinity, said 10 years after the disaster, "So many of these families, who have every reason to be angry at God, have not given up. They are still faithful. I'm more aware of the spiritual strength of people. Folks are not fair-weather friends of God.

"The question of 'why?' is still out there, but they are willing to trust God and keep him at the center of their lives. Nobody has just slammed down their bat and ball and gone home," he said.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Icon of the Nativity of the Mother of God.
The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated at least by the sixth century, when St. Romanos the Melodist, an Eastern Christian who composed many of the hymns used in the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox liturgies, composed a hymn for the feast.  The feast spread to Rome in the seventh century, but it was a couple more centuries before it was celebrated throughout the West. 
The source for the story of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel written about A.D. 150.  From it, we learn the names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, as well as the tradition that the couple was childless until an angel appeared to Anna and told her that she would conceive.  (Many of the same details appear also in the later apocryphal Gospel of the Nativity of Mary.)

The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  Perhaps because of its close proximity to the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not celebrated today with the same solemnity as the Immaculate Conception.  It is, nonetheless, a very important feast, because it prepares the way for the birth of Christ.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bishop McFadden Blesses New Parish Buildings

Today, Bishop McFadden once again visited our parish of Saint Andrew the Apostle (his third visit since becoming our bishop in July of last year) to celebrate the 10am Mass and bless our new parish buildings.   At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop McFadden blessed the crucifixes which will hang in the various rooms and offices of the new buildings.  Then, in procession, we all walked from the church to the parking lot between the two buildings - where Bishop McFadden said the prayer of blessing over both buildings.  Then he led the people of the parish into each building as he walked from room to room, sprinkling holy water. It certainly is an important day in the life of our parish.  As one of our intercessions said during Mass this weekend, "May the physical growth of our parish be a sign of our spiritual growth in faith, hope and love."