26th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

October is Respect Life Month, promoting respect for human life in light of our intrinsic dignity as having been created in God’s image and likeness and called to an eternal destiny with him. This year, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities invites Catholics to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Month by embracing “radical solidarity” with women facing difficult or challenging pregnancies. St John Paul II, who coined the term “radical solidarity” in reference to the care owed to vulnerable pregnant women, said: “In firmly rejecting ‘pro-choice’ it is necessary to become courageously ‘pro-woman,’ promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women. … The only honest stance, in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman.” While our efforts must remain strong to end legalized abortion, it is our responsibility as Catholics to surround mothers in need with life-giving support and personal accompaniment.

Today is Respect Life Sunday, when thousands will join the Life Chain which is a peaceful, prayerful demonstration in opposition to abortion, other attacks on human life, and an end to all violence. Pro-life individuals throughout the USA and Canada will join the National Life chain in about 2000 cities. We can get more info at www.Lifechain.org. In our area, the Life Chain will be held in Somerville, along Somerset Street, anywhere from the corner of Route 206 down to Veteran’s Memorial Hwy. The Life Chain continues up Mountain Avenue past Immaculate Conception Parish. Everyone is welcome to join.

Our newly commissioned Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) had its first meeting recently and it was decided that important matters discussed by the PPC concerning the parish should be communicated to the parishioners. Accordingly, the Co-Secretaries of the PPC have prepared a report that you can read elsewhere in this bulletin.

One of the matters you will see therein is about having a basketball court for our students. It is sad that ours is the only parish that I know without a parish gym nor a basketball court for our school students to play. Some of our parents, through our Principal Mary Lynch, proposed the idea of a basketball court without any enclosure in our parking lot so that our students could play in a junior school-level court. After consulting with the PPC and the Property Management Committee, I have happily agreed to have this long-felt need for a basketball court without any enclosure so that the present parking spaces will not be lost. Thanks to the parents who have come forward to sponsor this project.

Today we have the Blessing of animals, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi who showed us the right attitude of care for all of God’s creatures. Francis had pets, a lamb, a pheasant, a rabbit, a cicada, a dog, and a wolf! He was as polite and considerate to an earthworm, a slug, a bird, a beetle, or amole, as amusedly tolerant, understanding and warmly loving as one would be to one’s brother and sister. Indeed, he addressed them as his brothers and sisters! I look forward to seeing a variety of pets brought to be blessed as in the past years

Your brother in Christ.

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

Do we need a “National Eat Dinner Together Day”? Well there is one, and that’s this Monday, September 25th! The fourth Monday in September has been declared “Family Day — a day to eat dinner with your children,” by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. This is a national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce youth substance abuse and other risky behaviors, as research consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs. For more ideas, visit their site: https://casafamilyday.org/

Nothing brings us together like eating together. Good food, great conversations, and loads of laughs—that’s what family dinners are made of. But in today’s culture, we all know that family dinner together has become an easy casualty. Grabbing dinner on the go can be bad for our wallets and our waistlines, but most importantly we miss the opportunity to bond and grow as a family.

Throughout the Bible, we see that mealtime was a time for being together and enjoying each other, and it was also a time for teaching and imparting wisdom. The Old Testament prophets often compared life in the new heavens and earth with the picture of a divine banqueting table (Isaiah. 25:6; 55:1–2). In the New Testament, we regularly find Jesus reclining “at table” during His earthly ministry, engaging with real people, furthering His kingdom work, fostering true community, demonstrating reconciliation with God, and building genuine fellowship among His disciples (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 11:37; 14:15). From Sarah hosting the angels to the Passover meal observance to Jesus changing water to wine for a wedding feast, there are so many biblical examples of mealtime fellowship. Jesus often compared the Kingdom of God to a banquet!  Eating together was a big deal to Jesus because it was a chance to deepen friendships, welcome strangers and serve the poor. No wonder Jesus chose to be food for us in the Holy Eucharist, to be the best spiritual nourishment for us.

Parents will vouch for the formative value of eating together as this is a great opportunity to instill important values in the lives of children. Listen to what a young man remembers about his family’s practice of eating meals together: “It was therapeutic: an excuse to talk, to reflect on the day, and on recent events. Our chats about the banal—of baseball and television—often led to discussions of the seriousness—of politics and death, of memories and loss. Eating together was a small act, and it required very little of us—45 minutes away from our usual, quotidian distractions—and yet it was invariably one of the happiest parts of my day.”

Such is the formative value of eating together. If kids are not used to talking to you about their day at an earlier age of 8 or 9, we can’t expect them to do it at 12 or 13. Yes, let us make a greater effort to have family dinners more often.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


24th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

Today’s second collection is our quarterly collection for the Maintenance of our Parish Facilities. This was initiated over two years ago with the goal of saving some money for unforeseen repairs and unexpected breakdowns of our physical plant components that are aging. This is different from the 60th Anniversary Fundraising that began recently with specific goals like constructing the new bathroom, renovating the physical worship space, etc. Thanks to many of you whose enthusiastic response raised the thermometer in the narthex to 70% of the $200,000 goal that we had set. If you have not responded, this is the right time to make a contribution. Please consider.

Last Sunday in my homily, I spoke about the “Ministry of Invitation” to help those alienated from the church to return. Let me expand on that: A study by Life Way Research Inc. showed the importance of inviting others to church. Here are some findings from that study:

  • 67% of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member.
  • 56% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a friend or neighbor.

Such is the power of personal invitation that it is now called a MINISTRY in itself. This ministry is the duty of every member of the Church. In his book Evangelism in the Early Church, historian Michael Green argued that evangelism was the prerogative and duty of every church member. Green argues that “Christianity was supremely a lay movement, spread by informal missionaries … the spontaneous outreach of the total Christian community gave immense impetus to the movement from the very outset.” So let us be conscious of our duty as lay ministers and missionaries to our own people.

One may ask, “Why would people respond to an invitation?” Because people are looking for true fellowship and true community. Several missiologists have stated this truth: “In our post-Christian nation, people who are skeptical of the faith are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message. Therefore, introducing people into the relational network of a local church community becomes an important aspect of their journey to the faith.”

We are very fortunate that our St. Matthias Community is truly a welcoming community. Thank you to those of you who have invited others to our Sunday worship or to our parish events, or by distributing/sharing our parish bulletin. How wonderful if the rest of us can follow that good example!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


Our “Spread the Light” Tree Campaign is in Full Swing!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Our annual Christmas Tree “Spread the Light” campaign is in full swing! We would like to thank all of the parishioners and friends of the parish who have already arranged for their trees.  If you have not signed up to sponsor a tree, please consider doing this soon.  The cutoff date to sponsor is mid-October. There are forms in the back of the church and on the website. You can either pay at the parish office or through Parish Giving. 300 trees have been ordered so don’t miss your chance to honor a loved one, celebrate your family and or business, and generally “light the night” here at St. Matthias. The Deadline to Order Your Tree is October 13th. Join in this wonderfully moving tradition that helps support our church and brings joy to so many. For more information on how to order a tree, click here. Flyers are also available in church.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

For most of us, September 11th remains a lived experience. We have our stories of that fateful day that we might recall on this 22nd anniversary of 9/11. That is why we continue to keep up our annual tradition of the 9/11 Service that will be held tomorrow at 6:30 pm, here at St. Matthias. Thanks to the Fire Companies of Franklin Fire District # 1 who are hosting this service to honor the emergency service members who were killed on September 11, 2001, including our parishioner FDNY Firefighter John M. Collins, who graduated from St. Matthias School and Immaculata High School. Since this is held in our church at 6:30 pm, we will not have the weekly adoration tomorrow. I invite as many as possible to attend this memorial service as we have clear memories of this tragedy that left a deep wound and indelible mark on our nation’s collective memory.

But there is a whole new generation, born after 9/11, for whom 9/11 holds no memories. It has become a history lesson that could become folklore with the passage of time. That is all the more reason for us to keep this anniversary as an opportunity to enlighten our younger generation about this historic tragedy that struck our nation. They need to be present at the anniversary ceremonies so that they can understand the pain and agony – physical and emotional – of those who suffered and continue to suffer. I am asking our parents, especially those with children in St. Matthias School, to come tomorrow with their children to this year’s 9/11 Memorial Service at 6:30 pm.

I am grateful to Bill Cullen, a former fire Chief and John Hauss, Director of the Fire Prevention Office of Franklin Township and others who are taking the lead in organizing this important event.

Today is also ‘National Grandparents Day’ – a time to honor grandparents and grand-friends for their contributions to our families, neighborhoods and communities. You may remember we had already celebrated this in June with “the World Day for grandparents and elderly” that Pope Francis had instituted. It was on the Sunday closest to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. The US bishops Conference had postponed it to coincide with our national celebration of grandparents today — the Sunday after Labor Day. Celebrating it again is simply another reminder for us all to show greater understanding and respect to grandparents and elderly who are often ignored by many. It is an opportunity to publicly affirm the identity and importance of grandparents who play a vital role in families.

We know that Pope Francis has been championing the cause of all the marginalized of the society. He has condemned the “throw away” culture that tend to push aside the grandparents and the elderly. He has invited the world to respect them and learn from their wisdom. His exhortation is worth listening to: “From the elderly we received the gift of belonging to God’s holy people.  The Church, as well as society, needs them, for they entrust to the present the past that is needed to build the future. Let us honor them, neither depriving ourselves of their company nor depriving them of ours.  May we never allow the elderly to be cast aside!”

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

We are very happy to welcome Rev. Lancelot McGrath this weekend to our parish community. I am grateful to our Bishop Checchio for appointing him as our Parochial Vicar to assist me in the pastoral ministry. Obviously, it means involvement with Mass and other sacramental ministry, as well as parishioner visitations, involvement with parish organizations, visitation of the sick and homebound, emergency coverage, and general presence, especially spending significant amount of time visiting the school and interacting with the students, staff, and parents. A parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord in Monroe, wrote to me his appreciation of him: “Congratulations! You are receiving a part of my heart in Father Lancelot McGrath.” Another couple emailed me this: “While at Nativity, we have had the opportunity to meet Fr. Lance McGrath. He is a beautiful priest and so in love with the Lord. His faith is contagious, which you want in a priest. If we had to describe him, it would be gentle and humble.” Great to hear such good comments. In the name of all of us, I heartily welcome Fr. McGrath to St. Matthias.

It has been very hectic for me, during July and August, to be doing all the Masses, sick calls, funerals etc., while attending to other regular matters of our parish and school. But we were fortunate to get periodic help for weekend Masses from other priests like Fr. Nick Gengaro, Fr. Tom Lanza, Fr. Jose Lim, Fr. Peter Ssekajugo, and Fr. Joseph Kabali. That certainly gave us all a rich variety of priests with their own unique styles of homilies.

With the summer officially coming to an end, we are happy to welcome back all our students, staff and faculty. Our school is already alive with staff meeting,  Back to School socials, Faculty PD and other activities. The inaugural School Mass will be on Friday, September 8th. Thanks to the HSA team who have been doing lots of preparations for the new school year, in particular by making the playground very colorful and attractive.  Mrs. Mary Lynch, our Principal, has been working hard, directing these and other school activities. As I offer our support, I wish her and the entire School community God’s blessings.

Since Labor Day first became a federal holiday in 1894, the first Monday of September has been set apart to celebrate and value in American society the role of our workers and their work by providing, ironically and fittingly, a day off to rest and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.  But it is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the deeper meaning of our work, which the language of faith provides. The creation story shows our God working six days and resting on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:11) The Catholic Church proclaims the dignity, meaning and redemptive value of all human work. In 1981 Pope John Paul II wrote an Encyclical letter entitled “On Human Work” (Laborem Exercens) which beautifully presented this Christian vision of the dignity and meaning of human work, based on the biblical teachings.

Happy Labor Day! Happy Long weekend!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


Maui Relief

The death toll in Maui is 114 as of 8/21 but over 800 people are still missing. The wall of flames that ravaged this beautiful island has left survivors with nothing in their hands. Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is actively doing relief work on the ground. For those who wish to contribute to the relief effort, donations can be made online directly to CCUSA. www.diometuchen.org/mauirelief


21st Sunday of Ordinary


Dear Friends,

Today I wish to share with you some miscellaneous items:

Outside the Church:

Sprucing up the front and sides of the church was done recently, and thank you to the many who appreciated the new look with assorted evergreen shrubs including goldthread cypress, green velvet boxwood, and blue junipers, besides assorted deer-resistant perennials including Russian sage, coreopsis, and ornamental grasses.

Inside the Church:

1) Floor cleaning: A thorough cleaning of the floor was done with the help of a new machine that we bought and so the floor looks as clean as it can be.

2) Two adoring angels on either side of the Tabernacle. These beautiful statues are cast in fiberglass and come from Italy. It is a very visible way to make the Tabernacle more noticeable as the presence of Jesus is what makes a Catholic church unique and different from other churches. Bible testifies to the role of angels in worshipping God: “Angels glorify God…. Bless the Lord O you his angels…” (Psalm 103:20). The seraphim continually praise God for his holiness (Isaiah 6:2–3), and so do the four living creatures (Revelation 4:8). Also in Isaiah chapter six, we see that angels worship not only with a sense of humility but also with a deep sense of reverence. They chanted before God’s throne (in Isaiah 6 and later on in Revelation 4), “Holy, holy, holy”. Having two adoring angels is a visible sign to evoke a sense of reverence for the Lord in the Tabernacle. Let us give due reverence to Jesus in our midst by respecting that area around the Tabernacle as a sanctuary, by bowing or genuflecting to the Lord whenever we pass the Tabernacle, and by avoiding socializing there.

Feeding on God’s Word: The Word Among Us is a respectable Catholic publication promoting evangelization and faith formation. Their monthly publication features uplifting and thought-provoking meditations based on the daily Mass readings. The September issue is on seeking to do the Father’s will, and the title is “I Must Be in My Father’s House.” Next week please pick up a copy for your personal use to feed on God’s Word each day of the month.

The commissioning of our new Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) is today at the 10 a.m. Mass. The PPC has been meeting regularly to discuss and give recommendations to the pastor on matters concerning the well-being of the whole parish. PPC has a three-year rotation term of membership, with one-third retiring and one-third joining each year. Thus Anne Marie Francis, Rose Peng, and John Taylor are retiring while Sheila Tartaglia, Didi Molano, and Al Drabnis have joined as new members. Those who are continuing are Frank Rees, Marilyn Wegg, Stephan Busono, and William Isele. I am grateful to each of them for giving their time and talent to the good of our parish.

In today’s gospel, we see Peter confessing Jesus as the Messiah in response to that personal question Jesus asked: “Who do you say that I am?”  Whatever we do here at St. Matthias is meant to be an expression of our faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


ATTENTION – All High School SMYLE members!

“Fully Alive – National Catholic Youth Conference – November 16-19th – NCYC 2023

In our second reading from St. Paul, we hear “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

If you are in high school reading this, or know someone who is, I have the perfect opportunity for any high-school teen to “be transformed”!

In November, the National Catholic Youth Conference will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana from November 16-19th. The theme for NCYC 2023 is *Fully Alive*

The estimated cost is $1,100 which includes airfare, event fee, hotel (4 teens/room), meals, transportation, and T-shirts. (Students will miss 2 days of school).

If you’re interested in learning more about this exciting trip, please send an email to SMYLE@stmatthias.net by September 10th. The total cost is $1,100.00.

Each student will only have to pay 50% ($550) in two installments. To reserve a spot, the first payment ($275) is due Sept 10th. The final payment ($275) is due Sept 17th which is when we’ll actually book the airline, hotel, and pay the conference fee. We’ll be traveling with 8 youth and 2 chaperones from St. Joseph parish in Hillsborough.

The remaining $550 per person will be paid through fundraising (bake sales, etc.) and any donations offered by our generous parishioners.

I encourage you to support our youth through your monetary donations and/or prayers.

If we have enough replies, we’ll let you know next steps – including fundraising possibilities, and a required pre-travel meeting for teens and parents.

If anyone really wants to attend, but has financial concerns, please still email SMYLE@stmatthias.net

Deacon John


For a preview:

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

Today we are very happy to welcome Deacon Enock Berluche Sr. to our parish for the Mission Appeal, as part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan assigned from the Mission Office of our Diocese. He is a permanent deacon serving at the Parish of Sts. Philip and James in Phillipsburg in various roles: spiritual director for the Legion of Mary, moderator for the charismatic prayer group, coordinator of the Eucharistic adoration, and other pastoral apostolates. He is co-coordinator of African-American, Black and Caribbean Apostolate. He preaches Mission Appeal for Franciscans in Action and Source de Vie organizations for Haiti Missions. We warmly welcome him to our community.

This Tuesday is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary – a Holy Day of Obligation. Catholics are questioned probably more about our devotion to Mary than any other matter of our faith. Referring to the historical development of this dogma both in the East and the West, St. John Paul II has said: “The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin, “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries. There was a long period of growing reflection on Mary’s destiny in the next world. This gradually led the faithful to believe in the glorious raising of the Mother of Jesus, in body and soul, and to the institution in the East of the liturgical feasts of the Dormition [“falling asleep”—i.e., death] and Assumption of Mary. Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary’s Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin’s perfect union with Jesus’ destiny. There are, thus, passages in Scripture that resonate with the Assumption, even though they do not spell it out.”

We need to be convinced of a couple of points about our relationship to Mary:

  1. Devotion to Mary does not mean that we worship her as many non-Catholics mistakenly think. Anyone can be devoted to another person, a career, a job or place; but that doesn’t mean it becomes your god.
  2. Devotion implies a loyalty and trust in a person. We respect Mary as our human model of faith and heroic living that can help us navigate our own life’s challenges.
  3. Both in the gospel and in all the Marian apparitions throughout the ages, she always calls us to her son Jesus Christ. Her message essentially is: “Do whatever He tells you”(John 2:5)
  4. Excessive devotional practices have led to some misperceptions about Mary and so the Church has given us guidelines for a balanced Marian devotion based on Scripture and Tradition.
  5. Hence the question we can reflect on this feast of the Assumption is: what is its relevance for us today? One answer is that it gives us further validation to our hope in eternal life, a truth affirmed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ who is the Risen Lord. Therefore doing “whatever He tells us” will lead us there!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal