February 2, 2020
The Presentation of the Lord
The Purification of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
Today I would like to write about various events and occurrences here at St. Paul.
CHRISTMAS: This Christmas was a very special one for us at St. Paul’s. It was our first Christmas in the newly renovated Church. The Church was decorated beautifully thanks to our Altar Guild. The Nativity scene was at the Altar of St. Joseph and readily accessible for all to see. So many knelt in adoration and wonder as they looked upon the Holy Infant, Our Divine Redeemer. In the Fatima Chapel there was another beautiful Nativity scene before which we could all pray It is an extremely artistic set. All the figures are made of porcelain and hand painted in Italy. It was a gift to our parish by a very generous benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Christmas was particularly special since our new chandeliers had just been installed in the Church a few days before. As you know, they are unique to St. Paul’s. The grate and design of each light matches the grate that is all throughout the Church. The material of the lamps is alabaster, and they spread the light through the Church. Before each Mass at Christmas the lights had been dimmed and then as the Mass began, they all came up reminding us that Our Lord is the light of the world. The former chandeliers, which were rather heavy and low, were offered to several churches. However, no one wanted them because it would cost $15,000 each to make them up to modern wiring codes. With the low and heavy chandeliers (made of plastic) gone, our attention is immediately drawn upward to God and the saints.
Once again, we had orchestral music at the Masses. (This, too, is through the generosity of a benefactor0. The orchestra and singers were particularly beautiful this year due to the relocation of the music Ministry and the absence of all carpets in the Church. The music resonated in a glorious way.
I am most grateful to the all the parishioners who have been so generous to St. Paul’s at Christmas and throughout the year. This year our Christmas collection was $78,554. This figure is approximately $15,000 more than last year. God has been good to us all. While speaking of Christmas I must bring up a matter which I have always intended to discuss with you.
GIFTS: I am most grateful to all of you for all your generosity to me and to St. Paul’s. I am grateful for each Christmas gift. But I must ask your assistance in a certain matter. Because of various health issues with which I will not bother you, my doctors have advised me to follow a special diet, routine and regimen.
Naturally with so many bringing cookies, candy, cakes, and so many foods there is an overabundance of gifts.
Some good volunteers helped me distribute many of these gifts to others. (After all, I did receive over 750 cookies). And so, without the desire to seem ungrateful, may I ask that all our parishioners refrain from gifts of food and beverages to me at the time of Christmas and throughout the year. I am amazed at the generosity of everyone and I am most grateful for your anticipated cooperation with this simple request. When I told a priest friend about all the sweets I had received and told him the people of St. Paul had been so kind to me with cookies, candy, cakes, etc. he joked with me and said, “They are not being kind; they are trying to kill you.” I know that was a joke, but may I thank you for your willingness to respect this request. The only gift
I ever desire is the gift of your prayers.
While on this topic, I would also ask your understanding and indulgence in another matter. So many parishioners invite me to their homes or invite me out to restaurants and country clubs. I am most grateful for all these kindnesses, and I am sure you all understand that I cannot do this for many reasons, one of which is that I must always be up very early in the morning and so late evenings are difficult. Also, in the priestly formation I have received, I have always been advised by my spiritual directors, to be available to the faithful for priestly apostolate and to refrain from socializing. We must remember that the life of the priest is different from the lives we may live. The priest must be completely dedicated to the service of God.
Worldly concerns and distractions are not part of the life of priests as they must be in family life. Thank you for respecting my plan of priestly life, and pray that I may be a priest according to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I do stop by at various celebrations of parishioners in the matter of the sacraments, but I cannot do anything other than “stop by.” The socializing I do would be with our various parish ministries.
With the little free time I have, I try to rejuvenate myself with prayer, reading, and study. Thank you for understanding and respecting this request. When I was a young priest my various pastors (all deceased, may they rest in peace) followed that rule and advised me to do the same.
SAINTS: How proud should we all be with the beautiful statues (all wood cut by hand and by the same artist) of the saints which adorn our Church. What a beautiful reminder that when we step into the Church, we leave earth and enter the Heavenly Courts. The saints join us in adoration of the One True God. Some have asked which saints are depicted in the Church. Although I have written about it before, we will place brass
plates near the statues identifying the saints. Always remember that although we do not know the saints, they know us. And that is what really matters.
USHERS BRUNCH: On Sunday, January 12th all our parish ushers enjoyed a delicious brunch together in Monsignor Costa Hall. It was a most enjoyable afternoon. Our ushers are so dedicated in their service to the Church. May God bless and reward them and those who in their own goodness provided the feast.
CENTERSTAGE: It has become the custom that, in addition to the summer production that St. Paul’s Centerstage presents, in the winter a medley of music from various musicals, plays and past productions, is presented in our own Monsignor Costa Hall. This year a delightful production was presented on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, January 24, 25 and 26. The Saturday evening was a Dinner Theatre and it was a very happy experience for all who attended. Thank you to all who made this possible.
PANCAKE BREAKFAST: Our Knights and Squires prepared and provided a pancake/sausage breakfast for all parishioners following the 9.30 Mass on Sunday January 26th. Many of our parishioners attended and it was so nice to see so many of the little ones who loved the pancakes, as did the adults! Thank you
Knights and Squires.
WINTER: The saints teach us that God has created the seasons to relieve the human race of the monotony of time. All the seasons are beautiful, for they have all been created by God. But we are aware that winter presents special challenges, especially for the elderly. Please do not put yourself or others in danger making the heroic effort to attend Mass. We are blessed that there are various Masses that are televised.
Adult children: Please remember that we are never dispensed from the Fourth Commandment, and so for your parents’ safety advise them not to place themselves in danger. Often, we hear on the TV and radio, if one need not go out, remain in the safety of your home. We pray for seasonable weather and for an abundance of the fruits of the earth.
MORNING STAR INITIATIVE: Many may have read in both the Catholic and secular press about the Morning Star Initiative. This is a bold program undertaken by Bishop Barres to revitalize our Catholic Grammar schools. The Bishop has asked the assistance of the Marianist Congregation to assist him in this great work of evangelization. As we here at St. Paul’s know very well, the Marianists special charism is education. Whatever endeavor they have embarked upon has been most successful. May God bless the Marianists in this work.
We are all sadly aware, that in 2019 All Saints Regional School in neighboring Glen Cove closed its doors as did St. Joseph in Ronkonkoma. In June of 2020 our neighboring Parish, Our Lady of Mercy, will close its school. This is usually due to decreasing enrollment, increased parish subsidies, and fewer parishioners using the schools.
DEACON RAY: February 1st will mark three years that Deacon Ray has been assigned to St. Paul. Does it not seem that he has always been here with the way he has embraced all our parish families and become such an integral part of every facet of St. Paul. May God grant him many more years in health and happiness.
Thank you for everything Deacon Ray and may God reward you.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda