Tomorrow we usher in the New Year 2024! January has its name from the Greek God Janus, who presided over doors and beginnings – appropriate for the beginning of the year. Janus was usually depicted with two faces – one looking backward and the other forward. Our Christmas spirit continues as we celebrate another New Year with a sense of joy and hope. At this time, it is very healthy to look back to the year that was and look forward to the year that is.
For me personally, as I look back, there are many events and people that I am thankful to God for, and in particular, the wonderful parishioners of St. Matthias. The most recent occasion was the way the 40th anniversary of my ordination was celebrated as a parish event. I was so very touched by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers. The church was packed with our parishioners and some of my family and friends. Many of you communicated to me your inability to attend and greeted me with joy. Thanks to Joe Mancuso who livestreamed the Mass (so it is available anytime on our YouTube channel) which was a joyful experience with some cultural practices adding to its beauty. The entrance procession with some 20 Indian women in colorful dress, the offertory procession with various objects presented at the altar accompanied with a commentary of symbolism of each object, and a hymn in my mother tongue of Malayalam by the Indian choir were all attractions that augmented the worship. The meaningful homily of Msgr. Bill Belford, pastor of St. Teresa’s in Staten Island (my first pastor in a New York parish when I first came to the US) focused on the vocation that we are all called to – especially in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. The felicitation given by Didi Molano of the Pastoral Council, representing the whole parish community. The soul-filling music that Joan Seamon directed with our Choir and the Bell Choir was appreciated by all. The food in the cafeteria was varied, plentiful, and delicious, accompanied by song, dance, and words of felicitation – all emceed beautifully by Joe Percoco. All these were meticulously planned and executed by several dedicated parishioners and friends. I am grateful to the Committee that first met to plan this event: Alma Valdez, Anne Marie Francis, Emile Capuno, Fran Johnson, Claudette Gaspard, Menchie Ventura, Rita DiNicola, and Frank Rees. Many others gave of their time and talent – too many to name here. In a very special way, I am immensely indebted to Alma and Jaime Valdez for their goodwill and graciousness in sponsoring this event. Echoing the words of Mother Mary, I too say, “My soul glorifies the Lord…for He has done great things for me… Holy is His name.”
You too will have many things to be grateful for looking at 2023. In the same spirit, let us all look forward to this New Year and make a plan to correct where we failed and to rededicate ourselves to be better with new resolutions with the grace that comes from the Lord. Some of us may be discouraged by the short-lived resolutions every year. That’s why we need the Lord’s help for this. We have a special Mass to begin 2024. Come and dedicate this New Year at the Lord’s Table tomorrow, January 1st at 10 AM. I believe goals are attainable for all of us if only we persist and see His grace. My prayer for you is – to paraphrase the words of St. Paul: May God who began the good work in you bring it to perfection!
Blessings for the New Year to you and to your families!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal