2nd Sunday of Lent

 

Dear Friends,

Today’s noon Mass is our celebration of the Annual Black History Month Mass here at St. Matthias. I am very happy to welcome the presider Fr. Alphonsus Kariuki, Pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Dunellen, Concelebrant Fr. Gilles Njobam from Our Lady of Piscataway in Perth Amboy, and Deacon Rick Fortune from the Cathedral of St. Francis. We are also happy to welcome the Cameroonian Catholics who will be the song leaders for this Mass.  We know that Black History Month is an annual celebration to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society – from activists, civil rights pioneers, and religious leaders.

The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) has a Subcommittee for African American Affairs which is the official voice of the African American Catholic community. This Subcommittee assists the U.S. Catholic bishops individually and collectively to attend to the needs and aspirations of African American Catholics regarding issues of pastoral ministry, evangelization, social justice, worship, development of leaders and other areas of concern. Bishop Joseph N. Perry, the Chairman of this Subcommittee, published a Lenten Reflection in which he wrote:

       We tread these forty days because we want to love God better, know ourselves better and love our neighbor better. Church is a group experience for Christians. We come together as a group because God created us to live in community and because Jesus modeled community as the way to God with his own twelve apostles and any number of other disciples, men and women, who were connected with his ministry. We know that if we try to journey alone, we will likely get lost.

        None of us is perfect. None of us knows the way all of the time. We all fail. We all need help. So, we come to listen to the Word of God and nourish ourselves with his Eucharist and share our strengths and challenges, our joys and sorrows for our own good and the good of all.
During Lent we discover out of the spiritual treasure troves of Church the fonts of God’s mercy and the richness of our fellowship with one another through the rituals of Eucharist, reconciliation, scriptural prophecy and life promised us in His resurrection.

The “spiritual treasure troves” that Bishop Perry mentioned above are what we offer here at St. Matthias. Besides the Holy Mass, we have devotions like the Stations of the Cross, Novenas, Adorations, Rosary, First Friday devotion/Holy Hour, etc. Our Lenten journey has a personal and communal dimension. Personally, we walk this journey by having personal practices, personal devotions and personal resolutions that will help us grow in holiness. But, it takes on an added meaning and benefit when we join the parish community and journey together. I am truly happy that many of our parishioners participate in the various devotions we have and reap rich spiritual benefits. Wouldn’t it be great if many more would do that?

Happy Lent!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

 

St. Martin de Porres and SMS Black History Month Contest

1st PLACE WINNER 

Congratulations to the 1st place winner of the SMS Black History Month Contest, Maren Williamson, for her digital artwork featuring Black Catholic saints and the first African Americans now on the journey to sainthood.  Below are a few frames of Maren’s work.  Don’t miss the digital showing at all Masses on February 25th.

 

2nd PLACE WINNER 

From the Artist, Isabella Matusalem:

My painting, Saint Martin de Porres in his youth is seen holding the Veil of Veronica, the veil Veronica wiped on Jesus’face before this death.  As shown on the Veil of Veronica, Jesus’ face is shown to be an African American male.  Near all four corners of the painting, the words “Damnant Quod Non Intelligunt”, a phrase first used by Quintilian, is shown; the phrase translates to “They condemn what they do not understand”.  Damnant Quod Non Intelligunt symbolizes to all of the Christian black African Americans who were condemned unfairly. The phrase can also connect to Jesus, who was wrongfully condemned.

(Acrylic, charcoal and alcohol markers on canvas).

 

 

 

3rd PLACE WINNER

Black History Continues to Flourish

by Lemi Bartholemieux-Doxy

In the bustling streets of history
where shadows of oppression cast their long gaze,
Black culture emerged,
A resilient phoenix rising from the ashes of struggle.
Langston Hughes, a poetic maestro, captured the heartbeat of this culture, a rhythm that
refused
to be silenced.
From the days of cotton fields,
where the echoes of sorrow were met with soulful hymns, to the pulsating energy of urban life,
Black culture has not merely survived;
it has flourished.
The roots of heritage run deep, intertwining tales of triumph and tribulation, creating a
vibrant
tapestry that defies erasure.

Zora Neal Hurston’s tales and Hughes’ poetic verses became anthems of resistance,
celebrating the beauty and strength of blackness.

As time marched on, the narrative evolved.
Gospel choirs filled the air with melodies of faith,
while the streets resonated with the raw beats of hip-hop,
Each verse a testament to resilience and the unyielding spirit of black culture.

In the quiet moments, under the ebony sky,
The stories persist-the struggles, the victories, the unbreakable bond that weaves
through time.
Langston’s legacy lives on, echoing in the whisper of the poetry
Black culture is not a relic of the past;
it is a dynamic force,
an ever-evolving symphony that continues to shape the world with its enduring presence.

 

Honorable Mention

Artist: Yuna Augatis

Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr. Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks in Stained Glass on canvas.

 

SPRING INTO MENTAL HEALTH 

Self-Care Fair

SPRING INTO MENTAL HEALTH

March 10th, 2024 at St. Matthias

Learning Techniques to Improve Your…

Mental Health

Physical Health

Overall Wellbeing

          A Better YOU Awaits!

Guest Speakers · Giveaways/Raffles · Refreshments

In Partnership With:

St. Augustine’s Church, Kendall Park ; Holy Family Church, New Brunswick ; St. Joseph’s Church, Bound Brook

Questions: Call the St. Matthias Parish Office 732-828-1400 or email smyle@stmatthias.net

1st Sunday of Lent

 

Dear Friends,

It was so gratifying to see hundreds of people receiving ashes during the four services in our church and to see hundreds more at the drive-thru ash ministry in our parking lot. That is an excellent sign of the human longing to turn to God. The reception of ashes is the first step to follow God’s ways. But, any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is building on sand. That’s why the gospel for Ash Wednesday is worth reflecting over again. Please read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. Jesus is teaching us: Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure that we are committed to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

In this context, a challenging question for all of us is: how do we make Lent a spiritual success so that we can be more happy? For making any project or goal a success, we all need some motivation. For Lent, the motivation is the awareness that we can be better persons, that we can go beyond our present unhappy state of mind and experience true peace and joy if only we are willing to make some changes in our lives. Keeping this motivation in mind, here are 10 suggestions or ideas to make Lent a successful holy season:

1.  Read the Bible…. (a chapter a day?)
2. Attend Mass Daily (or watch it on our YouTube channel before going to bed)…
3. Go to Eucharistic Adoration. … (6-8 pm on Mondays in our church)
4. Complete a Work of Mercy. … (visiting a critically ill person, bringing food for that family)
5.  Pray the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet… (can be done easily in car)
6.  Put Together a List of People to Pray for. … (especially those you know personally)
7. Make a Mini-Pilgrimage….(visit a nearby church or shrine like the Blue Army)
8. Do Spiritual Reading daily …. ((life of a saint or writings of Pope Francis)
9. Make simple sacrifices (give up an item of food, drinks, practice patience)
10. Pray the Stations of the Cross (privately or at 7 pm in our church on Lenten Fridays)

Here’s a prayer we can pray: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, loving you more, loving my family and friends more, especially reaching out to those who I am not so fond of. Therefore Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life. Give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love, practicing a Lenten program of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and to live in true fellowship with those around me. Amen.

Have a happy and holy Lent.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Come Celebrate Black History Month With Us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

DATE:       Saturday, February 17th

TIME:        6:30 pm via Zoom 

The St. Matthias Racial Justice Initiative is sponsoring a special at-home Black History Month Zoom movie night!  We will be watching the documentary film John Lewis: Good Trouble, followed by some reflection questions.  RSVP to matthiasracialjustice@gmail.com by Friday, February 16th.   If you forget to RSVP, no worries. Just join us. Here is the Zoom link:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/3647189959?omn=85156549693
Meeting ID: 364 718 9959

Please put on your pajamas, pop some popcorn, and join us from the comfort of your own home!  ALL ARE WELCOME!

Be sure to join us for the Mass in celebration of Black History Month, on February 25th, at noon with Fr. Alphonsus Kariuki (St. John the Evangelist in Dunellen) as presider.

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Dear Friends,

Today is World Marriage Day. This annual observance is to honor husband and wife as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of society. As I congratulate all the married men and women on this special day, I thank them sincerely for their faithfulness and sacrifice in living out their married life. Marriage is hard, and we live in a world that encourages comfort and happiness above pain and sacrifice. Yet, at the heart of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, there is a vocational call to a very different way of life. Our “yes” to the sacrament of marriage is not something that only happens on our wedding day. Ongoing marriage formation reminds us that our “yes” to this vocation is something that we give daily, and God will continue to give us what we need to grow closer to one another and to him. Therefore ongoing support and spiritual formation for married couples is a must. Last year, I had invited every husband and wife to spend a little dedicated time in prayer and reflection by participating in a seven-day virtual retreat focused on marriage at this link: http://www.foryourmarriage.org/marriage-retreat

This year I am suggesting that you read some good articles related to married life. There are many wonderful resources online, but I suggest one website in particular that has interesting reflections like: Then and now: What your vows really mean, How to unconditionally love your spouse, Understanding the inner lives of husbands, Is busyness affecting your marriage?, Redefining your marriage after the nest empties out. You can access these from https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/content/building-spiritual-intimacy-in-your-marriage

LENT is upon us! Mardi Gras is this Monday, followed by Fat Tuesday leading to Ash Wednesday. This year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are both on February 14! Does that change the rules of fasting and abstinence? No. In fact, our Bishop Checchio has already informed the whole Diocese: “This year, be aware that Ash Wednesday falls on February 14 (also Valentine’s Day).  The obligation to fast does remain in effect, so it is suggested that those who are planning a special dinner make that their one main meal of the day.”

As we receive ashes on our forehead, let it be a visible symbol of our acknowledgement of our mortality and our dependence on a God who offers us His merciful love always. May the weeks following Ash Wednesday help us to learn how to live the way of Jesus. That’s why I am inviting us all to consciously choose some of the opportunities that our parish is offering: Faith sharing in our LIVE LENT! small groups (the six sessions are on the Eucharistic themes), Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent at 7 pm in church, attending Monday evening adoration, etc. It is also very important that we decide on some spiritual practice on a personal level too.

Happy Lent!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

 

Take A Refreshing Pause This Lent!

Get Ready for Our Lenten Groups 2024

Start for the first time or continue with a St. Matthias Small Faith Sharing Group. We have about 15 groups that meet on various days/times of the week.

If you are new to this experience, please click here to sign up. online:

Facilitators will be contacting group members who have been part of their group. Each group likely will be meeting on Zoom usually on the same date/time. Groups will begin this week!  New members, please sign up ASAP! 

 

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Dear Friends,

Glad to be back: My home trip was a very happy experience, especially because I had not taken my home vacation for a year and a half. Though it was short (18 days in India), I was kept very busy with Memorial celebration of my father’s death anniversary, the wedding of my nephew, feast of the parish, gathering of the extended Orapankal families, visiting, praying with and bringing Holy Communion to my sick aunts and uncles, and spending time with my 91-year old mother. Obviously, it was not a typical vacation to relax or have a quiet time. I am very grateful to Fr. Lancelot for willingly shouldering the parish responsibilities in my absence, taking care of all the pastoral needs in an admirable way, especially the number of funerals and sick calls. Thanks to the parish staff who cooperated with him in serving the parish community.

Catholic Schools Week: Last Sunday we had the opening Mass for the weeklong celebration of National Catholic Schools Week. It was well organized with students of diverse backgrounds participating in the entrance procession, readings, handing out the thank you’s after the Mass, etc. Thanks to Mary Lynch, our Principal, who has been coordinating various activities and events during this past week with the help of the faculty and staff and thus promoting the mission of our Catholic School. Our Bishop Checchio wrote a letter to the parents and guardians on this occasion in which he reminded them:
“As parents, you play a primary, vital role in the success of our children. Your support, encouragement, and commitment to the values of Catholic education contribute greatly to the formation of well-rounded individuals who carry the light of Christ into the world. I am deeply grateful for your partnership in this sacred mission.”
I too wish to echo the same as I thank the parents for choosing St. Matthias School to give the children the best of both worlds: Catholic formation and academic excellence.

2024 Pro-Life Award: This year, in light of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, our Bishop had asked us pastors and pro-life ministries to nominate parishioners who have been laboring in the field and working in the parishes and local communities to promote the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death. Accordingly, we had nominated our parishioner Eileen King for this award and we, as a parish, can be very proud that she was chosen to be one of the 2024 pro-life honorees from across the Diocese of Metuchen. This award was presented to her on Sunday, January 21, at our Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.

In the name of the parish community, I congratulate Eileen King for this honor. We are grateful to God for her faith-filled service to life, which is truly a reflection of God’s unconditional love and mercy. This honor is also an invitation to us all to get more involved in life matters, especially by joining the Pro-Life Ministry in our parish. Please contact Fran Johnson at tfxj@msn.com if interested. Whether it be walking with moms in need, walking with the elderly, tending to the sick and dying, working with those with disabilities, or with those who struggle with addiction, efforts to build a culture of life and love are needed now more than ever in the world.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

 

A Sad Announcement

 

We received the sad news of the passing of Reverend Monsignor William J. Capik, who was our Sunday associate for several years. He died on January 27 at Incarnate Word Village in San Antonio, Texas. He was 94 years old and had been both the oldest and longest-ordained priest of our Diocese.

Msgr. Capik’s body will be received by Rev. Msgr. Sylvester Cronin on Sunday, February 4, at 4:00 p.m. at St. James Church, 184 S. Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, with public visitation to follow.  The Rosary will be recited at 6:00 p.m. Very Rev. Jonathan S. Toborowsky, VG will preside at the Mass of Commemoration at 7:00 p.m. and Rev. John C. Siceloff will be the homilist.  Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD MBA will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial on Monday, February 5, at 11:00 a.m. at St. James, and Very Rev. Jonathan S. Toborowsky, VG will be the homilist. The interment will be at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Perth Amboy.

Let us be joined in prayer that Monsignor Capik will find the fulfillment of his faith and the reward of his priestly labors in the presence of the Risen Lord. May our prayerful support be a source of comfort to his family.  May he rest in peace.

Knights of Columbus Annual Pancake Breakfast to Benefit SMS Tuition Angels

The St. Matthias Council, Knights of Columbus will hold its annual Pancake Breakfast in honor of Past Grand Knight Robert Norland on Sunday, February 11th from 8:00 am – 12:00 noon in the school cafeteria.

Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit St. Matthias School Tuition Angels. The cost is $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for ages 11-17 and children under 11 are free.