14th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

Last Sunday’s 60th Anniversary Mass, presided by our Bishop Checchio, was a memorable event for everyone present in person or online. What was particularly touching was the presence of some of the original members of our parish who were there in 1962 to build up this parish that was led by our first pastor Fr. William McKenna. ( See some of the pioneers on the cover page.) As we honored them with a luncheon in our cafeteria after the Mass, it was exciting to listen to some of their stories and anecdotes about the challenges of those early years. Jeff Hentz, the Co-chair of the Anniversary Committee, interviewed some of these pioneers. These will be made available soon for us to view.

Speaking of the Anniversary Committee, I have only words of appreciation for the many events and ideas they have been meticulously planning and
implementing. Anne Marie Francis (Co-chair), Jeff Hentz (Co-chair), Dee Christmas, Pat Cullen, Joanne Diana, Gondee Tibay, Mary Frances, Emily Chavez, Sue Lenczewski and Msgr. Seamus Brennan deserve special gratitude from all of us for organizing these events – some of which will be happening
in the coming months.

Happy July 4th weekend to all! On this anniversary of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776, we celebrate the freedom we cherish. It was interesting for me to read that the first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. As we celebrate the positive aspects of our nation on this patriotic holiday, let this also be a time for us to express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties won for us by the first generation Americans.

Happy July 3rd to the Christians of India, who celebrate the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. This year his feast falls on a Sunday and therefore the Lord’s Day takes precedence. But our neighboring Parish of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Church on Elizabeth Avenue in Somerset, celebrate today as their parish feast with a 9-day Mass and Novena. I was the celebrant for one of the Novenas/ Masses. St. Thomas, better known by his nickname “doubting Thomas,” evangelized southern India.

Some parishioners here and elsewhere have asked me if I was converted or my parents were converted to Christianity. The truth is that I am proud to belong to the “St. Thomas Christian Community” that traces its origin to St. Thomas himself. How could Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles, have reached India? Merchants from the Middle East used to go to India to buy spices and so Thomas reached India in one of their ships in the year 52 AD. He converted several Hindu families and established seven churches. He was martyred near Chennai and his tomb is in the Cathedral of San Thom. In fact it is interesting
for us to know that there are only three Cathedrals in the world, built over the tomb of an apostle: St. Peter’s in Rome, St. James in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and St. Thomas in Chennai (India).

As we rightly celebrate our political freedom this July 4th weekend, let us not forget that the good news of freedom in Jesus Christ that St. Thomas proclaimed will always be ours.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal