December 24, 2015—A View from the Rectory

From my rectory window, the seasons change, but your goodness is constant. In my View, I often reference ‘our parish family’. During this season of Advent I have witnessed anew some of the best of our ‘family’ traditions.

Again, this year for Thanksgiving, our Saint Casimir Thrift Shop provided complete meals for 120 families and the Church of the Resurrection Food Pantry did the same for approximately 100 families. The parishioners of Saint Casimir Church coordinated with Holy Family Parish, Sewell, to support two Giving Trees that provide Christmas gifts for children in our Woodbine community.

Our Knights of Columbus (9113) and the Women’s Auxiliary continued their Feed the Needy Project that began in 1986, and has continued every year since, to assist families in need at Christmas. Approximately 180 families are included in the special deliveries each year, the Saturday before Christmas. Included in this special delivery is a Christmas morning breakfast and a full dinner for Christmas day.  

It is our parishioners who volunteer to make deliveries to each home. Additionally, the Knights coordinate with the Cape May County Toys for Tots to provide gifts for all the children. Some of our students in our Parish Religious Education Program will assist the Knights in choosing appropriate gifts.

On Christmas day, members of the Knights of Columbus, and their families, will go to the Covenant House in Atlantic City bearing gifts and serving meals.

What is most encouraging to me is not only these traditions of service that endure, but in a particular way, to note the traditions of service beginning through our younger parishioners. During Advent, our students made sandwiches for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, they made Christmas cards for those in the nursing home and they went Christmas caroling to home-bound parishioners.

Perhaps the best of all traditions is that Christmas has a way of bringing to Church individuals and families who, for various reasons, have not been to Mass or the Sacraments for months or years. What a wonderful and grace-filled opportunity to put aside past differences and old habits and begin anew that prayerful relationship with the Lord and His Church community. I extend to all of you an open, grateful heart of welcome.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, bless you, your families and loved ones at this blessed time of hope and grace. May Mary, the Mother of the Child Jesus and our Mother, watch over you and our Parish Family of Saint Maximilian Kolbe always.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Fr. Pete

Christmas and New Year’s Schedule

December 3, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

Bambinelli Sunday, December 17, 9:30, Church of the Resurrection. I invite all the families of our parish to bring your figurine of the Baby Jesus which will adorn your nativity scene to this Mass to be blessed.

Bambinelli Sunday is a beautiful tradition started by Pope St. John Paul II. “Bambinelli” is the Italian plural of “bambinello” which means “little baby [boy].” Bambinelli Sunday is celebrated on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. Thousands of people come to St. Peter’s Square bringing the Baby Jesus figurines from their crèches and nativity scenes; then, at the time of the Pope’s Angelus address, he blesses all the little figures of the Child Jesus.

Families also traditionally spend their Advent season making small sacrifices or doing good deeds for the Child Jesus, represented by adding a piece of straw to His manger for each good deed performed. When Christmas day arrives, the Baby Jesus is placed in the empty crèche made comfortable by these acts of charity.

Fr. Pete

November 26, 2017—A View from the Rectory Window

As I prepare this View in anticipation of Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting upon these past six years. In this reflection, I find myself looking back and I note within myself a mixture of emotions; I am profoundly grateful to have walked this journey of faith with you, but can it really be six years already?! How often, and how unfortunately, it is in looking back that blessings are discovered. And for this reason, how often, and how unfortunately, since it is only in looking back that blessings are often discovered, they may also be as often missed.

For example, isn’t it true that at the heart of our national Thanksgiving celebration is the idea of giving thanks for the past goodness we have received? And yet, I ask you to consider how our faith tradition challenges us to see that ‘Thanksgiving’ is the call to be attentive to the present moment and giving thanks to God for who we are and what we have when things are, or are not, going well in our lives. Isn’t the very heart of our identity as a community of faith the ‘Eucharist’ which is best translated – ‘Thanksgiving’.

Our beautiful faith tradition invites us to experience one of the most important qualities of ‘Thanksgiving’ which is the ability to say “thank you” to others and to take no one and nothing for granted. Consistently, in His preaching the Lord invites us to know that those who possess the virtue of gratitude are truly rich. They not only know they have been blessed, but they continuously remember that all good things come from God which is the source of their constant blessing.

In reflecting upon these past six years with you I recognize I am truly rich. In my time with you I hope we have also recognized how people bound together by gratitude are always discovering and awakening abundant sources of strength. The more thankful a person is, the richer he or she is within. Thankful people store up in their grateful memory all the good experiences of the past, just as the French proverb states: “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”

I take this occasion to speak of my gratitude to you knowing that my gratitude is your blessing to me, for I know that Thankfulness is a way to experience the world, a way to perceive, a way to be surprised. Thankfulness is having open eyes and a short distance between the eyes and the heart.

May this Thanksgiving open our eyes and hearts to all the blessings that are ours,

Fr. Pete

November 19, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

In the sanctuaries of our churches you may have noticed the addition of an icon of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. It is my hope that when you come before these icons you do not view them as ‘nice pictures’.

For, an icon is not a painting in the sense we normally regard pieces of art; nor is it just art with a religious theme. When you look at an icon, it is meant to make you aware that you are in the presence of God. An icon is a window out of the obvious realities of everyday life into the realm of God. Every paint-stroke has a meaning hallowed by centuries of prayer. Icons are religious images that hover between two worlds, putting into colors and shapes what cannot be grasped by the intellect. Icons are a visual form of prayer in line and color that seek to tell us something true about God and the saints.

Icons have been called windows to heaven or doorways to the sacred.

When you are standing in front of an icon, it is as if you are looking through a window into the heavenly world of the mystery. But this is a two-way window. As you look through the window, you are also being seen with the eyes of love by those in the icon. It is like you become a part of the mystery that the icon seeks to express.

An icon is meant to help us open ourselves to God’s love. Rendering the invisible visible. Icons are the visual equivalents of the Divine Scriptures.

In the Church of the Resurrection, alongside the icon, is a relic of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. The veneration of relics is an ancient custom dating from the reverence shown at the graves of the martyrs even in the time of the apostles. Miracles have been worked by God in association with relics. Not that some magical power existed in them, but just as God’s work was done through the lives of holy people, so did His work continue after their deaths. Just as people were drawn closer to God through the lives of holy people, so did they (even if through their remains) inspire others to draw closer even after their deaths. In all, relics remind us of the holiness of a saint and their cooperation in God’s work; at the same time, relics inspire us to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind of faith-filled life.

The story of how Saint Maximilian’s relic was obtained is this: Someone was cutting Maximilian’s hair (usually it’s a friar; once it was a barber in Rome when Maximilian was a seminarian; another story places the haircut in Japan; yet another has the haircut happening after Maximilian’s death and before his cremation in Auschwitz). The anonymous barber, recognizing that Kolbe would one day become a saint, decides to preserve the hair clippings (or beard clippings). Maximilian Kolbe finds out about this and is outraged (or amused or disturbed) and tells the barber to throw the hairs into the stove. The barber obediently throws the hairs into the stove. But some of the hair doesn’t burn, or the barber snatches it out of the fire after Maximilian leaves the room, or the barber obediently throws the hair into the stove, but the crafty fellow doesn’t light the fire! And so these relics of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, cremated in Auschwitz after giving up his life for a fellow prisoner are preserved.

I believe it is God’s special favor that this relic now adorns our church. May Saint Maximilian Kolbe inspire us and pray for us.

Father Pete

Keep Christ in Christmas Poster Contest

The Knights of Columbus Council #9113 Marmora is sponsoring a “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster coloring contest.  The purpose of the contest is to help youth develop a greater understanding of the true, spiritual  meaning of Christmas.  The contest is for ages 5 to 14.  There will be prizes awarded for 1st and 2nd place winners in each of three age groups.  Winners from our council will go on to district level, and possibly state or international levels!  Posters are due by December 12th.  For more information, please contact Doug Saul at 856-207-0424 or doug.funny79@hotmail.com.

Keep Christ In Christmas

November Parish News

November 5, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

Through the generous commitment of over 285 families, to date, the Capital Campaign has advanced to the point where I am enthused to announce we are in the process of making plans to move into the architectural/planning/construction phase.

More than a building, we are building up the Body of Christ, providing a welcoming home for our parishioners, our community and the future of a parish family that will also be our legacy in faith.

We have entered the final month of our Capital Campaign. Before this opportunity passes, I ask you to join us. It is my greatest desire, not to build buildings, but to unite a community in a common purpose that reflects our gratitude to God for all that is ours. Our Lord promised that if two could agree what to ask for in His name, it would surely be granted to them by His Father (Mt. 18:19). Imagine, what could be accomplished if, as an entire parish family, we committed to this common goal.

Our Parish family of Saint Maximilian Kolbe is a vibrant, diverse, and growing parish that nurtures and serves those who come to us without distinction. We are blessed to have many ministries, over four hundred students in our Religious Education program, a growing number of weddings and baptisms each year, and thousands using our churches and facilities every week. Our facilities are used to provide food for the hungry and the Eucharist for our souls, we provide clothing for those without and we clothe our children through baptism in the promise of immortality. We counsel those who are lost, grieving and searching and we ourselves are strengthened by the Word of God. In our facilities are experienced community for those who are alone and those who seek to belong – young or advanced in life’s journey. Furthermore, our doors are opened to many groups within the community such as AA meetings, youth events, Easter Seals, and so much more!

My invitation is not about the size of your gift, it is about your gifting us by your support. I ask your support. Please join us in this defining moment in the life of our parish.

If you have any questions in this regard, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Fr. Pete

October 29, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

Monsignor James J. Zegers Council 9113
PO Box 1048, Marmora, NJ 08223

Why You Should Consider Joining Council 9113 of the Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus was founded over 130 years ago in Connecticut by Father Michael J. McGivney and a small group of Catholic gentlemen to provide for their families. That small beginning has grown into a worldwide fraternal organization of more than 15,000 councils and two billion members bound in faith and doing a multitude of charitable works.

That growth has been based on three principles: Charity, Unity and Fraternity. A fourth principle, Patriotism, was added as the organization grew. The first principle, Charity, is exercised through Knights donating their time, energy and resources to help their community, the Parish, the Church, and global humanitarian causes. The second two principles guide us in conducting our good works as we work together in a united purpose to help others while supporting each other in life and in faith. Patriotism, the last principle, was added to emphasize the Knights’ efforts to serve our country.

Locally, Council 9113 raises funds that are used to: provide meals and gifts to local families each Christmas; help the mentally and physically challenged; assist families and widows facing hardship; support our military overseas; conduct programs for veterans; help our Church and Parish materially and spiritually; and support other local and global programs or disasters needing aid. We raise those funds by sponsoring events including a horseshoe tournament, a golf outing, bus trips to sporting events, and other collection activities. Many volunteer hours are needed to support our activities so we need your help.

Your reward is great when you help those less fortunate than yourself. Therefore, we ask all Catholic gentlemen, 18 years old or older, in Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish to come join us. Help us help those in need.

Please join the Knights of Columbus, Council 9113, next Sunday, November 5th in the pavilion for hospitality. There will be representatives present at that time to answer any questions you might have.

Father Pete

October 22, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

I remain humbled and inspired by your generosity to our parish family and the people we seek to serve. I am grateful and proud to be a member of the parish of Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

Within this bulletin, I provide you with a summary fiscal accounting of our parish for the fiscal year July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. I have also directed that within this accounting a status report be made of the present parish capital campaign for a new parish/community center.

I also make available for your consideration, some of the efforts of our parishioners to care for those who are in need of spiritual, emotional, and/or physical assistance. It would not be possible to present the full scope of our efforts in one summary sheet. For this reason, I ask pardon of those who may feel that their efforts went unnoticed or unacknowledged. At the same time, I trust that our efforts are not done to win the praise of others, but rather, are in response to all that God has given us.

The Parish Finance Council, the Parish Pastoral Council and I have sought to be prudent stewards of the resources entrusted to our care. You can read about these efforts in greater detail in the Pastoral Council Minutes found on our parish website. I know that transparency in this regard is one of our foremost obligations to you. I hope this brief report reflects our intention to be faithful to this obligation.

I would encourage you to contact me at the parish office (609) 390-0664, if you have any questions in this regard. Also, at the next open parish council meeting which will be advertised in the bulletin and with a pulpit announcement you will be able to make inquiries or present observations to the entire parish council.

I again thank you for all that you do to ensure that our parish family strives to make a return to the Lord for His goodness to us and that our expressions of faith befit what we profess and believe.

May Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us,

Father Pete

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