St. Thomas January 2015 E-News

Confirmation – 'It's not your Mother's Baltimore Catechism'

On November 21, I sat down with Tim Dennin, Coordinator of Youth Ministry, to discuss the Confirmation program. Over the course of the next two hours I learned more and developed a deeper understanding and gratitude for this sacrament then I ever imagined possible ... and I was a Catholic School girl 'nn' years ago. I also learned what a fabulous program we have here at Saint Thomas, and wrote this article to share it with you.
--- Linda Davis


We all know that Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments through which Catholics pass in the process of their religious upbringing. Specifically, Confirmation is the moment when young confirmed adults (the confirmandi), receive the Holy Spirit in a new way and accept the gifts of the spirit in order that we have such a concern for church and neighbor. The sacrament of confirmation gives us a special grace and special power. The Confirmandi willingly renew the baptismal promises made by their parents and become an independent, fully responsible adult in the catholic community. They perform community service/projects, get their own offering envelopes and take adult responsibility and ownership.


What is striking to me about this whole process is that there is no memorization and regurgitation of incessant questions and answers. If I were to venture a guess no one in the prior era understood what we were memorizing. The process now allows for an understanding of Christ's life on earth.It allows for the real life practice of Christianity. It allows the confirmandi to apply the seven works of mercy both corporal and spiritual to their own lives which is by far a much more valuable lesson then rote memorization.

It is very refreshing and faith renewing to see how the preparation and execution of this sacrament has dramatically evolved for the better.

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Advent Giving Tree 2014

Thank you to all who participated in the Advent Giving Tree Program.

Some of the many gifts the St. Thomas Parishioners gave this Christmas.

The generosity of the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish is incredible. Once again people came through with presents and gift cards. It was great seeing people gathered by the trees looking and studying the different tags. Some parishioners were looking for something particular on the tree that they wanted to purchase for a charity. Many people took multiple tags.

We collected over $4,400 in ShopRite, Target & Kohl’s gift cards for our parish and 95 very large bags of gifts and a bike for the organizations listed below.

  • Dr. Lena Edwards Charter School - Jersey City, NJ
  • Interfaith Hospitality for the Homeless of Essex County - Montclair, NJ
  • National Alliance for Mentally Ill – NAMI Essex NJ Inc. – Montclair, NJ
  • Newark Beth Israel/St. Barnabas Health Care Center for Hemophilia – Newark NJ
  • St Rose of Lima Parish – Newark NJ
  • St. Joseph’s Social Service Center, Elizabeth NJ
  • The Pope John Paul II Pavilion at St. Mary’s Life Center, Orange NJ

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St. Thomas the Apostle Christmas Tree Spectacular! A closer look.....
For decades the spectacular St .Thomas the Apostle Parish Christmas tree forest has enraptured countless parishioners and visitors alike. Banked in two rows on the reredos wall of the nave, the lit evergreen display is nothing short of breathtaking. More importantly, it is almost a guaranteed way to leave behind the hustle and bustle of shopping and the tinsel and tackiness of the secular decorations we are bombarded with from Halloween on behind and to "fall on your knees... and hear the Angel's voices!..." in preparation of the wonderful Christmas liturgical celebrations that follow. But "how do they do it?" so many ask each year. I can assure you this is not the work of Santa's elves, nor a lovely gift dropped down from heaven like manna. So how indeed...?

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the actual raising of the trees, it is interesting to take a quick look back. For many years, the parish had put up the regular 8-10 foot evergreens along the wall on both sides of the Crucifix. In December of 1989, James Gasparini became the St. Thomas parish Plant Manager , for many years now the Operations Manager [ and since 2011 the Business Manager as well] and that is where the story truly begins. St. Thomas has always had generous Christmas decoration collections funded by parishioner memorials of loved ones . In those early years the focus was on many stacked poinsettia plants and the large hanging wreaths, as well as the normal sized trees. But when Fr. Peter Funesti became a parochial vicar here in the mid 1990's under Msgr. Bill Hatcher, Fr. Peter's flair for the dramatic had finally found the engineer to realize his wishes. Jim Gasparini. That is when the trees in the back row grew to 25' tall. Fr. Peter would not back down and accept anything shorter. One year the two largest trees nearly reached the ceiling! Msgr. Hatcher, and for many years now our Pastor Fr. Charles Miller have supported and encouraged this tradition and so it remains. And we are all so grateful.

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Rosary Society Scholarhships Announced
The Rosary Society is pleased to announce the following recipients of this year's scholarship awards:
Angeles Selecky
William Monroy
These scholarships are awarded to students who attend our parish school, and provide service to the parish. In the past two years a scholarship award was given to a female student; this year through the generosity of the members of the Society they were able to expand the program and award an additional scholarship to a male student.


Christmas Concert

St. Thomas Annual Christmas Concert
Kim Mesiti Singing at the Christmas Concert, Posted on YouTube.
Click here for the audio only...
Christmas Trees Being Put Up

More Christmas Tree Pictures at

The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity - January 18–25, 2015

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus' prayer for his disciples that "they may be one so that the world may believe" (John 17:21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Theme for 2015: Jesus said to her: "Give me to drink" (John 4:7)

For more information about the week of prayer for Christian Unity, please visit

Catholic Schools week - January 25–31, 2015

National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2015 is January 25 - 31. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2015 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

Please visit our Parish School Website at

For more information about Catholic Schools Week, please visit

Feast of the Presentation: February 2nd

Jesus is presented at the temple 40 days after his birth.

Luke 2:22-32
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord," and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons," in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.

It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."

<!-- The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted(and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. -->

St. Bernadette Feast Day: February 11th

Bernadette Soubirous was a young French girl who saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin in a cave in Lourdes, France in 1858. The Blessed Virgin told St. Bernadette to pray for sinners and to have a church built on that spot. When asked many years later what the Blessed Virgin Mary looked like, St. Bernadette replied, "She was so beautiful, that to see her again, one would be willing to die". Eventually, St. Bernadette became a Sister of Charity and died at the age of 35 years old after a painful illness. St. Bernadette was canonized, not because of the visions she had, but because of the patience and trust with which she bore the trials which resulted from them.

Pope John Paul II's Prayer To Our Lady Of Lourdes
This prayer was said during the Holy Father's August 15, 2004 visit to Lourdes, France. The Pope asked her among other things to "be our guide along the paths of the world."

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, We join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.


Lent 2014: February 18th - April 2nd

Lent is a time of good resolutions and new beginnings. Lent is a season of repentance and a season of hope.

The word Lent means springtime. This word comes from the same root as lengthen. Daytime lengthens during Lent. The northern hemisphere turns toward the sun, the source of life, and winter turns into spring. In Hebrew, the word for repentance is the same as the word that means to turn, like the turning of the earth to the sun, like the turning of the soil before planting.

Calendar of Lenten Events at St. Thomas
Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:30PM
Reconciliation on Saturdays at 11:00AM.
Pray the Stations at home the rest of the week with this video.
Prayer Life Resources on the STA website
Prayer Life Resources external to the STA website

Click on any of the links for more information and the option to download to your electronic calendar.

Parish Events:

Blood Pressure Screening in St. Peter's Room
Sunday January 18 @ 8:00AM to 12:00PM

Sunday Hospitality in St. Peter's Room
Sunday January 18 @ 9:00AM to 12:00PM

New Beginnings New Year's Retreat
Saturday January 24 @ 9:00AM to 3:00PM

Wedding Music Showcase
Saturday January 24 after the 5:00PM Mass

Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Hour
Monday January 26 @ 11:00 AM - 8:30PM

Celebration of First Penance
Saturday January 31

23rd Annual Irish Night
Saturday February 28 @ 6:30 PM - 10:30PM

Meeting Dates:

Shawl Ministry
Sunday January 18 @ 11:30AM

Support Group For Those Grieving The Death Of A Loved One
Sunday January 25 @ 11:45AM-1:00PM

Rosary Society Meeting
Monday February 2 @ 7:00PM

Support Group For Those Grieving The Death Of A Loved One
Sunday February 8 @ 11:45AM-1:00PM

Support Group For Those Grieving The Death Of A Loved One
Sunday February 15 @ 11:45AM-1:00PM