Dear Parishioners of Our Beloved St. Paul:
Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! As everyone is well aware, the publication of the bulletin must follow a strict schedule to which even the pastor must subscribe. Thus although you, dear parishioners, read this after the Apostolic Visit of the Pope to the New York Metropolitan area, I am writing the article while the Pope is still in Cuba. My hope and prayer is that the visit was a successful one, grace filled and safe for all. How proud we all are that some of our own parishioners won tickets in the lottery to see the Pope.
All of the pastors of the diocese received a directive from the Bishop that all Church bells in the diocese from Floral Park in the west to Montauk in the east should ring their bells at 5.00PM on Tuesday, September 22nd to welcome the Pope to United States. Surprisingly the Pope had never once before been in our beloved country. (Both his predecessors Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had visited our country before they had been elected Pope and they were very familiar with the nation, its culture, and were both fluent in English). So indeed it was most fitting that the bells should have rung out to welcome the Pope who had never once set foot in the United States! But, sadly, no bells rang here at St. Paul. No joyful peel was heard in Brookville, Jericho, Muttontown, Locust Valley, and Glen Head. That is because, as I have written before, our fifty year old bell system gave out two years ago and we have not had the resources to replace it. The cost of the repair of the old system would have been more than a new system.
Last week some of you may recall that I wrote about St. Junipero Serra who was just canonized on Wednesday. In his great mission work he wished that the hills and valleys resound. Although he was always strict with himself, when it came to the worship of God, nothing was too extravagant for the God who created all beauty. Whenever he would found a new mission, he would first erect a Cross and then string up bells. He would ring the bells endlessly and the other Franciscan friars would scold him, “Why do you tire yourself in this way?” one of them asked. “There are no Indians in sight. It’s a waste of time to ring bells.” St. Junipero answered, “I’d like these bells to be heard by all the world.”
How I have prayed and hoped that St. Paul’s would be given a voice again and its bells would ring again. How dismayed my heart is every time a beautiful bride’s car arrives at our Church, and no bell peels out to greet her. How sad I am when our dear parishioners walk behind the mortal remains of their loved ones as they are carried out of the Church after the Funeral Mass to silence. No bells toll which are so comforting and bring joy to all who mourn. How sad that Holy Mass begins by checking various time pieces rather than the resounding of bells. How sad that on the night of the Great and Holy Vigil of Easter, the night when Heaven is wedded to earth, the bells do not ring out that Christ is risen. How sad that as we leave Church on Christmas morning no chimes tell us this is the day of Joy to the World. How sad that at noontime the bells do not ring out the Angelus to remind us just how much God did so love the world that He gave us His only begotten Son.
Since my arrival here two years ago, with your assistance and encouragement we have accomplished much. New doors have been placed on our beautiful Church, the parking lot has been illuminated by low energy cost efficient LED lighting, and we have converted from expensive and high maintenance oil energy to natural gas. (How happy I am never to see another oil truck again!) A new carpet has been placed in the sanctuary of the Church so that we need no longer be embarrassed at weddings and funerals. Trees have been cut back, and the lower hall has been repainted, refurbished and renamed in honor of Msgr. Costa. The sacristies and stairwells of the Church have been painted. New flooring has been placed in the Church sacristies and the Daily Mass Chapel as well as the parish Office. All the Church windows (the three Stained Glass Windows and the Narthex Window) have been washed crystal clean. A new shrine to St. Paul has arisen on our grounds, the barn and rectory have been power washed and interiors painted. Concrete work has been done to shore up many years of damage and the light poles have been reinforced; all the drains have been cleaned and cleared of years of debris. The parish office has been redone to make it a cheerful and welcoming place. New ornaments for the Church and chapel adorn the houses of God reminding us of the Beauty of Holiness. A state of the art sound system has been installed in the Church and new LED lighting has been placed to illuminate the Church’s west window (facing Rt. 107) and its façade so those passing can see the light on the hill. The weather worn and battered image of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross has been restored and replaced. And all of this has been done without touching one cent of our parish reserves. We have finished our last two fiscal years in the black! What a grace this is. We have accomplished so much together without touching our reserves. In many parishes this could never have been the case.
It is my prayer, which I have confided to St. Joseph, that we will have bells at St. Paul. This of course can only happen with your help. And it can only happen if you want it. I will be speaking to the parish Finance Council about this matter and hope that with the efforts of us all, St. Paul’s will have a voice again. It is my hope that the resources will become available to make this fond dream a reality.
In prayer this past week in the darkness of the chapel I was begging Our Lord for the wisdom to see what God’s will would be in this regard. After all, what the priest may want to do for the people may be very different from what the parishioners want the priest to do for them. I believe that we all know that all of the items listed above were done with the support of the parishioners for the first priority of the pastor and the people is the same. We all want to beautify the House of God and work for the building up of St. Paul’s. I know that all of you have accepted me and welcomed me as your Father in Christ. I know that all of you know that I am doing the best I can for our common goals which is why I welcome your input. The priest has a divine vocation and acts in the Person of Christ, but, as you know all too well, the priest is also a man. And so although my service here has taken a physical toll on me, it has given me a greater joy than can be known on earth.
Father Paul Landolfi, S.M. Everyone knows Father Paul and his many years of service to St. Paul. The Marianists are of invaluable service to us. They maintain our magnificent fields, they administer our religious Education Program on the Confirmation level and the Chaminade students teach in it. They assist the single priest assigned to this large parish all the while asking for nothing or any recognition like true religious. On Sunday October 11, 2015, Father Paul will celebrate the 9.30AM Mass on the occasion of his sixtieth anniversary as a priest. Afterwards there will be a reception for Father Paul in Monsignor Costa Hall. It is my hope that many parishioners will turn out to congratulate Father Paul.
Gala: We are now in the midst of planning for our annual parish Gala Dinner Dance. As always, I am most grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her dedicated committee who plan this wonderful event. This event is the major fundraiser for our parish. Please see the bulletin for details. The parish gala will be on Friday October 30th. It will be a Dinner Dance at the Milleridge Inn Cottage and its theme will be Casino Night. Our friends the M&M Twins (Marco and Michael Posillico, whom I have known for 25 years) will present a wonderful evening of entertainment. St. Paul’s depends on this fundraiser. It is my fond hope that many parishioners will come together for this fundraiser so that we may continue to exist as a viable and vibrant parish.
Parish Ministry Fair: Please see the bulletin about our ministry fair which will be October 17th and 18th. This is a wonderful opportunity to see all the good things that have been happening here at St. Paul’s and how you can be part of it.
St. Agnes Medal: How happy I am to announce that Mrs. Doris Mardovich of our parish will receive the St. Agnes Medal on October 25th at St. Agnes Cathedral. Mrs. Mardovich is a founding member of our parish and has been a dedicated servant of St. Paul since its inception. We congratulate her and her family. Her dear son, Edward, who perished on September 11, 2001, has a street named after him in Jericho. As far as I am concerned, you all deserve the St. Agnes Medal.
May God Bless You,
May Mary Keep You
Monsignor James F. Pereda