Since the end of the grace-filled Christmas Feasts our parish has received many blessings. As everyone knows our Holy Father the Pope has appointed a new Bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. His Excellency Bishop John O. Barres is now the fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre. We welcome him and pledge our support and prayers.
Bishop Barrres is a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, where he served with great distinction as a parish priest, chancellor and vicar general. In 2009 he left the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, to become the Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania where he has served with great dedication until his appointment as the Bishop of Rockville Centre, We pray that God will grant him many years as he serves as our Bishop.
Bishop Barres attended Princeton University and did his preparation for the Holy Priesthood at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (My own alma mater). After his ordination to the priesthood he went to Rome where he received a J.C.L. (licentiate in canon law) from the University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce). Interestingly, our own Father Lee Descoteaux holds the same degree from the same University. Bishop Barres also received his S.T.D., (doctorate in sacred theology) from Santa Croce. He did his doctoral dissertation on Father Jean Jacques Olier, the founder of the Society of St. Sulpice who lived in the 17th century. In addition to these highly prestigious pontifical degrees the Bishop earned the M.B.A. from New York University. He attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and his parents, both of whom were converts to Catholicism, were graduates of the Yale Divinity School. Bishop Barres was baptized as an infant by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the famous Catholic Bishop who had his own television program.
I have known Bishop Barres since 1983, shortly after his graduation from Princeton when I was a young priest. We studied together in Rome and it is a joy to have him as our Bishop.
We also know that at this very same time, we have welcomed Deacon Raymond P. D’Alessio to St. Paul’s. He was assigned to us by Bishop Murphy and it was one of the last acts of Bishop Murphy before his retirement. We welcome Deacon Ray in the charity of Christ. He will serve as Deacon and Pastoral Associate here at St. Paul’s and will be of great assistance to me and to us all. As the weeks, months, and years pass, we will come to know and love Deacon Ray.
Last weekend Mr. Richard O’Hara, one of the members of our Parish Finance Council, spoke at all the Masses. I am most grateful for Mr. O’Hara’s doing this since he had to be at the Church all morning. As Mr. O’Hara reported, our parish is operating with a surplus in our day to day operations. Or as is said, we are in the black. This is due to your weekly contributions and our other sources of income: Parish Pre-School, Religious Education, donations at the time of the administration of the sacraments, and our fund raising activities. The Diocese reimburses St. Paul’s Parish close to $25,000 a year for my service as Judicial Vicar in the Diocese.
Our reserves are substantial but not exorbitant. These reserves are not from collections, but rather from individuals (some of whom are not parishioners) who have given to us over the years. These are our benefactors for whom Mass is offered each month. It is my firm intention not to use any of our reserves. Once spent, reserves can never be recovered as the pariah financial survey sheet bears witness.
Since my arrival as pastor in June 2013 we have together accomplished many capital improvements to our buildings and grounds without spending a penny of our reserves. These include the conversion from oil to gas in all our buildings, the installation of the new doors on the Church, the new illumination of the parking lot, the state of the art sound system in the Church, the remediation of all mold in the rectory and the installation of new air conditioning in the Daily Mass Chapel and the barn, to name just some of them.