Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I haven't disappeared, I'm still around

Fr. Jim's most recent homily (http://chernjam.blogspot.com/2012/09/being-unfriended.html) sparked in me part of why I've been away from my blog for so long.  I know that not many out there read it and those that do I probably don't even know, however one of these that used to read it along with most of her family have "unfriended" me and they honestly made up most of the audience who actually read it. Long story short I went to a wedding that the former best friend had decided that I didn't need to or should go to so she and half of her family no longer talk to me, some do and they probably hear about it all the time, but whatever.  I'm no longer hiding behind what happened.  Yes, most of the fault probably does fall with me, but I do no regret what I did.  I was the bigger person.

Fr. Jim's right it's a shock to find that you've been unfriended especially when it was left that you might actually be able to talk to the person and they just up and click a button and end a friendship.  Fr. Jim's homily adds to Fr. Derek's comment of God gives and He takes away what isn't good for us.  See I was such a horrible friend by going to the wedding that the countless trips and sleepovers and free babysitting I did for the former best friend was all forgotten.  Being there for her at her wedding and the insanity that surrounded it, doesn't matter anymore.  The 13 years or whatever it was wasn't matter because I disagreed with her on something for the first time in what was a best friendship.

I've had a lot of priests be a part of my life.  Fr. Jim's is mainly an internet friendship as it's on Facebook and blogs that we interact however I've come to realize that the world between Diocese of Paterson and Archdiocese of Newark is quite small and Fr. Jim and I have many mutual friendships as Facebook calls them.  Oddly Fr. Geno makes that an international world now as he's working on the Council for Evangelization.  Fr. Geno is one of these priests that no matter how hard one tries to shake they can't.  I will forever "blame" Fr. Geno aka FG for who and what I am.

FG started the youth ministry program that I was a part of in high school and am now proudly helping to run at the parish.  When he left the parish I was at Seton Hall, so I wasn't overly attached to the home parish, but I still looked forward to FG's homilies and masses when I came home on the weekends.  We in essence went our separate ways after my freshman years at SHU until our worlds reconnected a few years ago at a "small" place known as St. Paul's Inside the Walls.

Bishop Serratelli tasked FG with building an Evangelization Center, and that they did.  Through St. Paul's I got to see the crazy priest that I knew in high school acting in much the same way as he did back then.  Before he left for Rome and the Vatican FG had an overnight retreat for certain young adults that were hand picked to be there.  The topic was friendships in Christ and how they affect our lives.

During the retreat Fr. Geno talked about trust, friendships, prayer, and of course God.  Looking back on it, God was giving the grace to finally say goodbye to the 13 year friendship that maybe one day will return but for now it won't.  Fr. Derek in one of our "classes" on catechesis as Evangelization talked about the Dark Night of the Soul and how the further away God seems the closer we are to Him.  During one of these sessions he said something along the lines of "God gives us friendships and sometimes He takes them away.  God takes away things that might seem good for us but may not be."  I thought of the former best friend and said yes yes He does.  Fr. Derek's comment came before Fr. Geno's retreat, but they all tie into me reading Fr. Jim's blog and saying, yes it is odd and a shock when you get de/unfrieneded on Facebook.

I've been busy with St. Paul's and learning more about Evangelization and ways to get people back to and into the Catholic Church.  I'm spending my Sunday evening with the greatest joys in my life, the parish teens, showing them that being Catholic is serious but it's also alot of fun.  I'm one again teaching in the Confirmation program, I'm still an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and active at the parish on a few committees, so yes I'm busy and don't usually have time to sit and blog. Work is work and keeps me busy from 9am-7pm.

I'm still around but when I'm not in front of the computer (or iPad and wireless keyboard) I'm at work, or at the parish or at St. Paul's sharing and learning more about the Catholic faith.

So with the drama of the last year and a half finally out on the internet I hope to return to blogging but I know it won't be conssistent.

Friday, August 31, 2012

election 2012

I wrote the following 4 years ago during the last presidential campaign season my thought have not changed just that I failed in not electing Obama as president.  I will start pryaing earlier and more often for the outcome of this election.  God help us if we have 4 more years of Obama in office, I fear for Catholic hospital, school, parish and other organizations as they will no longer exist with him in office, but no one seems worried about that.

Dear Mr. Obama,

I wish to tell you, that I find your stance on abortion deplorable and utterly offensive to women. When you speak for and to the youth of this country and the women who you wish to give national coverage too, I want you to know that you do not represent me. There is no way in hell that I would vote for a person who believes that killing babies under the guise of abortion and women's rights is correct and morally acceptable. Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to not, that's right NOT get you elected. I will pray that your Christian heart is turned so that you can see how evil abortion is. Don't expect me to believe a word that comes out of your mouth. It is insulting to believe that someone who was given the right to live by his own mother would turn and tell a woman what to do with her body. That's right I'm turning the classic pro-abortion argument back on the movement, Planned Parenthood was created to get rid of "your people" aka the blacks in this country. Yes, Margaret Sanger was a racist and wanted to see the African-American population killed off, hence why Planned Parenthood killing centers are usually found in inner-city neighborhoods.

I also find it absurd that one day you would be behind your pastor and the next day resign from your church as if it was some political office. Religion is not something to toss around lightly, especially a belief in Christ and His teachings.

May God have mercy on you, me and this country for what it is doing.

A concerned 28 year old female

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confirmation and part of why I heart my Bishop

Confirmation was about a month ago at the parish and yes as I do with most of the blogs, I type the highlights of what I want to talk about and then step away from the computer.

I've known my bishop for awhile.  I still remember my first encounter with Fr. Serratelli on that March for Life Bus in January of 1998.  I remember when he became Msgr. Serratelli and I certainly remember taking a summer session week long course with him my junior year so I could have enough credits to be a senior and get the hell out of Seton Hall.  Yes, I was insane enough as an undergraduate to take a graduate level course with a man who knows Scripture like the back of his hand.   Wonderfully for me, I was naive enough to not realize what I was really doing and when it came down to it, then Msgr. Serratelli was very nice, and kind and maybe it was because I was an undergraduate but I enjoyed that class and was not one bit scared of the oral exam he gave as a final.  I remember sitting in the Seminary dinning room and hearing him say "It's like Daniel entering the lion's den. Imagine we're over in Campus Ministry having a conversation."  Thus began my personal interaction with the man who is currently my bishop.

I take great joy in saying I know the Bishop of Paterson and I take even more joy in knowing that he knows my name and hasn't forgotten it like he usually blames his miter for.  Fr. Geno's comments at his Mass of Thanksgiving about our Bishop, well it's a sort of lack of comments, because FG didn't say much, but his reaction while mentioning Bishop Serratelli showed his love and passion for the man he calls "boss" (for a few more weeks) and the man I call "Pappa Arty, I mean Bishop" This action reminded me of how much I love my bishop and how much it pains me to hear people talk disparagingly about him.  I know Bishop moves the priests around a lot and that my parish seems to get the brunt of it, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like us.  I'm tired of people complaining that this one doesn't do this and this one doesn't do that.  Own up to your actions and thoughts, get to know the person, attempt to get to know the person before you just say he doesn't like us so I don't like him.

I know my personal connection makes it for a lack of better terms, personal, when someone attacks Bishop.  I know it's that time of year and we're bound to have yet another change in staff at the parish, but we just have to deal with it.  Maybe Bishop only wants the guys to have a year or two at a bitchy parish and then move them on, I mean really nothing can be worse than a place that complains about everything.

Oh well before I get totally off topic the original intent of the blog was about the homily Bishop Serratelli gave at Confirmation.  I only remember portions of it, but Bishop does not preach for long but he gets his point across.  Bishop started his homily out with the legend of Quo Vadis, where Peter while leaving Rome meets Jesus and asks "Lord, where are you going?" to which Jesus replies, "To Rome to be crucified again." Of course Peter gains his confidence and returns to Rome to where he faces his eventual martyrdom.  This story always reminds me of Seton Hall and my Latin class, so Bishop had hooked me in.  The basis of his homily is that we should always be living our lives as a follower of Jesus, meaning that the sacrament doesn't end at the ceremony but that it continues on.  The comment live your life as a follower of Jesus struck me as yes Bishop was preaching to teens who face far more issues than I did at their age, but it's true for all of us.  It reminds me of the question "Is there enough evidence to convict me of being Christian, or in my case Catholic?"

That is what stayed with me from Bishop's homily. It's not in his preaching, though it is good, that Bishop excels, but at his questions and answers session. In the question and answer session you get to see Bishop's passion for teaching come out, you get to see the personable side of him come out.  It always leads to the vocations speech, but hey he's the bishop, he's got to talk about vocations. This time it wasn't the vocation to priesthood or religious life that he spend his time on, but the vocation of marriage. Bishop spoke about how one is called to marriage in the same way that one is called to religious life and how each vocation comes with it's ups and downs.  He spoke of how no vocation is easy, but that there is joy in the vocation.  I remember thinking this is what he was talking about at the Chrism Mass of how if the priests are on fire and are full of joy that the lay people will follow suite.  I sat there as he said the vocation will not be easy, you'll have to do things you don't like, give things up, but there will be joy.

Joy seems to be a buzz word right now.  Fr. Geno mentioned it, Bishop has mentioned it and our Holy Father speaks of how there is a poverty of joy in the world.  As I type this I keep looking down and seeing the memorial card for Fr. Jim Sheehan, who passed away last August after a battle with cancer.  The picture on the card shows the joy in which Fr. Jim served the Archdiocese of Newark.  Looking back on all the priests I have meet in my life, the ones that I have come to know and love have much joy in what they do and in life.  Bishop Serratelli may not always enjoy his job, but he is a joyful person, same goes for the pastor of the parish.

I can't help but think that some day soon I'll be doing work for and in the Church.  I know it won't be easy but it is joyful work.

May God continue to bless and watch over my wonderful Bishop, priests and of course the Holy Father.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I heart my Pastor

I realize that I jumped from we're getting new priests to my pastor's homily from Ash Wednesday.

Fr. Ray is my favorite pastor, mainly for his I don't give a damn attitude.  I know he cares he just seems able to let the annoyances roll of his back the way water rolls off a duck's back.  I love that he says Mass and does liturgy correctly as in from the Roman Missal and doesn't care what others think about that.

Let me start from the beginning as that is a good place to start. When Fr. Ray first came I was torn because the man has a very thick exterior and I couldn't actually tell if he liked me or not and I couldn't tell if I liked him or not. I was leaning towards liking him, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure. I try to always look for the bright side and aspects of the new guys who come to the parish. I was constantly fighting the majority of the parish in liking the poor man and I still am. I finally got the chance to sit and talk with him on our youth ministry  retreat.

I was starting to see myself join the ranks of those it liking him, but I understand the man is busy running a parish, working as the archivist for the diocese and also as a professor at the seminary at Seton Hall.  So as someone who has had a church job and also multiple jobs at once, I know it is not easy to focus on one job all the time, so I was desperately looking for that one on one time and got it in the form of the Sacrament of Confession at our retreat.  I had finally seen the personal side of the pastor and loved it.

I was tasked with promoting my pastor when he first came to the parish by a priest in the diocese whom I love dearly.  So I took on that task and continue to do so today.  I will defend my pastor and his "lack of being at everything the parish does" because I know deep down he actually likes what he does and that he likes me. 

This was the first year I was able to partake in the Triduum fully at the parish and it was amazing.  Everything was done out of the Roman Missal and it was the first time in quite a while that I enjoyed being at the parish for said events.  At the Triduum and after our Lenten Tuesday night Catechism meetings I realized that all it took to get to know the pastor was to go to the events he was running.  He much like our dear Bishop is a teacher and full of knowledge, a knowledge that I one day would love to have.  I'm on the parish Liturgy Committee and I took those minutes I had in the "confessional" to finally get my say out about how annoyed I was with some of the things the committee was saying and how I felt about the state of the Confirmation program and about evangelization at the parish.  I laid it all out including the story of how I came to be on the Liturgy Committee and how I was the only one who would sit next to the pastor, and oddly at the next meeting Fr. Ray sat next to me and I know he wanted to sit next to me at the last meeting too, but the Committee is much like Church, your seat doesn't change and no one moves from their said spot.  So when Fr. George left and Fr. Martin came in Fr. Martin sat in the corner which is now Fr. Ray's spot whether he wants it or not.  

I'm tired of hearing people bitch and moan about the pastor, I keep wanted to say have you asked him to come over, he's not a mind reader.  He can't know what you're thinking of that you want him at everything.  We can't expect him to be at everything, it's just not possible. 

I know where I stand as at the end of Easter Vigil I make a point of saying hello and Happy Easter to the priests and deacons. I had talked to both vicars, and seen my top two deacons so I decided I should go say hi to the pastor as I probably won't see him tomorrow. I walked out and as he was talking to two of the Sisters who teach in the school, he turns and says, "Happy Easter Mary" and leaned in for the classic greeting/kiss.  It had taken 9 months but he finally used my name and despite all my joking of "oh no he actually knows my name" it was great.  The conversation then followed about the light that was on me as lector during the Vigil, it was a touch blinding as no other lights were on.  

The next day, other wise known as Easter Sunday meant that I was lector and EM at our gym Mass.  I got there early and no one, other than the choir, was in the gym which was weird but I went with it.  I was going over the prayers of the faithful as there was no deacon at the Mass and I would have to read them.  I apparently forgot how to read and just skimmed them as I didn't notice that one was repeated, I just noticed that it was crossed out, I asked our vicar if he knew why it was crossed out and he said no, maybe Msgr. knows.  Fr. Ray, in cassock and surplice, looked at me and said "it's repeated" I said, oh guess I should have read the whole page.  He followed up with she changed what I had written, I said I'm not surprised and went to but the binder back.  Fr. Ray was over to greet the people who were at Mass, a first for a pastor of our parish to actually do.  

A few weeks later we had Confirmation,  I as a catechist in the program was there to support my teens from youth ministry and those I actually taught.  I had gotten a random email asking me if I would serve as a "cup bearer" at Mass.  I said I'm around to serve as EM if necessary.  I walked into the sacristy and Fr. Ray greets me with "Miss Woolley, what can we do for you?"  I was thinking oh no he knows the last name too.  All kidding aside, I knew he knew my name, he just never called me by it.  The conversation continued with me asking about the set up for EMs and we discussed what would happen.  

I've found that since the youth ministry retreat Fr. Ray and I are both more friendly to one another, maybe it's the I understand your issues with the parish Father, I have the same ones or it's that I said but I like your ideas.  

His homilies are excellent, I haven't blogged about a homily since Fr. Brian was here.  For me it's just nice to have a pastor I feel comfortable being a smart ass around, I certainly couldn't do that with the last pastor, and Fr. George and I was friendly but we didn't see eye to eye on everything, I have a feeling that Fr. Ray and I would and do see eye to eye on everything.  

At the Triduum it just dawned on me that he had very quickly become my favorite pastor and that was a spot long held by Fr. George, who do a lot for me and to keep me in the parish.  I nearly walked away from the parish while it was under the last pastor, but I kept at it and because of Fr Ray I stayed.  When Fr. Ray came I had heard you're going to love him, he's great for your parish, and all of that good stuff from people who knew him.  I tried and keep an open mind and heart about it and sure enough I got to know the man slightly and lo and behold he is great for our parish and I do love him, now I hope he stays. He's not afraid to come and say and teach Church teaching.  He'll call out the New York Times on an ad, he'll tell you why abortion is wrong.  Maybe that's why I like him, he's authentic Catholic and not afraid to teach and defend Holy Mother Church.  

Hear that Bishop Serratelli, no moving my pastor, you can take one of the vicars, just not the one I like and send us the awesome deacon we had over the summer.  ;)  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ash Wednesday

So I started this post back on Ash Wednesday so I wouldn't forget Fr. Ray's homily.  I didn't forget the homily  but I am glad I wrote it down so I can blog slightly about it.

Let me back up a touch seeing as I have been away from here for nearly a year.  See a fair bit has happened over the past year and most of the stuff (read: blogging, crocheting, watching tv) brought with it good but sad memories, friends have come and gone.  Now that a year has past since that eventual day and there seems to be no returning to that friendship, why not at least try to get back to what I enjoyed.  The lack of blogging also stemmed from the lack of quality homilies at the parish as I used to blog about that the priests spoke about.

Our new pastor is amazing, I love him dearly, he has become my favorite pastor of all time and he's only been here 9 months.  It's like we had to give birth to the friendship or something.  More on him later, literally as I'm sure he'll play a big part in this blog.

I've been busy with work and more importantly youth ministry at the parish.  The teens of our parish are truly a gift to the parish and most especially the 3 of us "adults" who work with them on a weekly basis.  The teens can make me smile no matter my mood.  Anyway, I'm going to turn this into an Ash Wednesday, Triduum, Easter blog of sorts.

So Ash Wednesday I went begrudgingly to Mass, mainly because I knew I was going to surrounded by those that show up simply to get something and no matter how many times I say to myself, "at least they are here, maybe they'll return to the church." the bitch in me wins out and I grumble to myself and whine about how badly   people don't know the responses, how crappy the music it and over all how annoyed I am.  Then our pastor comes along and gives a homily about 3 types of people.  Now the homily was a while ago but I'm going to try and remember it as best I can.

So he talks about one of his first assignments as a priest and how there was a fire at the parish that gutted the church building.  He spoke of three types of people who came that night to see what was going on.  The first group of people were spectators, those that just show up to see what's happening, the next group are those that show up and lament over what they don't have anymore and don't come back, and the final group are those that show up and start planning the future and how to rebuild. I sat there thinking, how the hell is he going to get away with calling out those who are apart of groups one and two without pissing them off and I told him as much afterwards and that I was impressed with how well he got his point across.  He compared us to the groups: group number one those that just show up for the ashes, group number two those that come one or twice and don't come back and the third group those that come week after week. I sat there knowing that there were plenty of people there that only showed up to see what was going on, and plenty more who were out because they were getting something from the Church, I also knew that there was a good portion of group number three there too, as I and a few others who are very active in the parish were there.

Fr. Ray did a great job of saying while we all should fall into group 3 we don't always and he went on to explain how we fall into those groups.  Seeing as that homily was over 40 days ago and I still remember the basic idea of it I'm pretty damn impressed with his homily skills.

Ok I lied, I'm tired so this is only going to be an Ash Wednesday blog.  Hey at least I'm actually typing again.  ;)