Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! May I express sincere gratitude to all of you, the dear parishioners of St. Paul’s, for making my formal Installation as the Sixth Pastor of St. Paul’s a day that I will never forget, and which will encourage me throughout the rest of my days.
The sights and sounds, but, above all, the many parishioners who assembled that day, joyfully reflect the firm faith, abiding hope, and ardent charity, which I have come to know, is the hallmark of St. Paul’s. May God bless and reward each and every one of you.
There is always the danger in leaving someone out, but I must express sincere gratitude to all the priests, deacons, seminarians, and altar servers who made the day so special. Sincere gratitude to the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, the Knights of Columbus and, of course, our faithful Squires. (Please read the article about our Squires and their fundraising efforts for Bobby Nawrath in the current issue of the Long Island Catholic.) I was very happy to welcome that day New York Supreme Court Justice Timothy Driscoll and the members of the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of which I am the chaplain. Sincere gratitude to our wonderful musicians who lead us in the praise of God: our organist, Gary Ducoing, and our cantors Eva Ponce and Cecelia Hayden. Their dedication was augmented by the presence of the St. Paul’s Centerstage singers and the choir of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Sincere gratitude to our parish staff, the Pastoral Council, and the Finance Council. May I thank Paula Maturo and Jeanne Marie Urban for the fine job they did on the programs and memorial cards. (The picture on the card is a print of the famous Spanish painter Diego Velazquez’ The Coronation of the Virgin). Sincere gratitude to our trustees Mr. James Black, Esq. and Mr. Michael Maturo. I would like to thank Mr. Black and all on the Picnic Committee who worked heroically to make sure we had an enjoyable evening. Our own Bart Piscitello and so many others were behind the scenes. And, of course, we thank our father and lord, the good St. Joseph, who gave us the best weather of the year. You will be happy to know that all our left overs were given to the Little Sisters of the Poor. When I stopped by the novitiate on Monday, Sister Maria Carmen (22 years old) told me with a great smile; Guess what we are having for supper? HOT DOGS!!! You made the Little Sisters very happy. May God bless and reward you.
May I thank all of you for your kindness and generosity for your many gifts and encouraging presence. The only gift I ever desire is that we all help one another find the way to Heaven and that you will always pray that I will be a priest after the Heart of Christ. It is really Our Lord Jesus Christ who is our true pastor and shepherd. Just pray that I will not get in His way. He must increase, but I must decrease!
Today we celebrate Catechetical Sunday and I will have the distinct honor to commission our catechists at the 9.30 Mass on Sunday. Sincere gratitude to Mrs. Louise Shannon and to Brother Joseph Bellizzi, S.M., the catechists and staff for their selfless dedication in the formation of our young people. St. Paul’s has one of the finest catechetical programs I have ever seen and there is a great love for God in the hearts of the catechists, staff, and students.
After the 9.30 Mass we will have the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to our beloved priest, Father James Williams, S.M. As you know, Father James has served St. Paul’s selflessly for over thirteen years. He is not a visitor but an integral part of our parish family. Please pray for Father and bid him a fond farewell as he returns to his doctoral studies in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Before we know it, Father will be back with us again when the academic year is completed.
This week Mrs. Linda Curro will speak briefly at the time of the Announcements. I have asked Dr. and Mrs. Curro to begin work on establishing once more a Parish Pre-Cana Program. This will assist so many of our young couples preparing to receive the sacrament of marriage. They will be looking to our wonderful married couples for assistance in this important endeavor.
Our St. Paul Pre-School has begun class once more and we thank Mrs. Gayle Crimarco, Mrs. Debbie Oliva, and their dedicated staff and teachers. Monsignor Clerkin was particularly proud of the Preschool and I can see why. The first day of class naturally brought tears, but now there are only smiles!
We are very grateful to the anonymous donor who generously gave two new flags to St. Paul’s to mark the 12th anniversary of the attack upon our beloved country. A new American and Papal flag now fly proudly on our beautiful grounds.
And finally, you will notice that our parish has been enriched by the presence of our sacristans. These are young men in High School who serve us all by opening the Church and preparing all the things necessary for Mass. They have been trained during the summer and we are so blessed to have them. At a time when the newspapers daily carry stories of the crimes of young men, it is a wonderful reminder to us of how many good young men there are, especially in our own parish. We are very grateful to Paul, Christian, Stephen, Christopher, and Christian (in training). May God bless them as they serve in the House of God and assist the priests in such a practical way.
Now that the excitement of these days has faded next week I hope to continue our long interrupted series on a plan of life to grow in holiness.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda