June 2021 E-Newsletter

June 2021


In this issue:
  • Father’s Day Blessing
  • St Thomas The Apostle Social Concerns Ministry
  • St Thomas The Apostle History
  • Welcome to Fr. Jonathan Yabiliyok
  • Annual Appeal Update
  • Is it time to come back? – Reconciliation
  • Feast of Saint Thomas – July 3
  • Farewell from the Website/E-Newsletter Minister
  • Communication Committee – What Is Next

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Father’s Day Blessing


God our Father, in Your wisdom and love You made all things.

Bless all men who are fathers that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers.

Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.

Grant that we their sons and daughters may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect, through Christ our Lord.

Amen


Commemoration and Celebration of “Juneteenth”: Marking the End of Slavery in the U.S.

This weekend June 19th marks the end of slavery in our Country with the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 6, 1865. The occasion will be celebrated with parades, festivals, speeches, prayer services, and educational events. It has become known as “Juneteenth” in the African American Community, first celebrated in Texas on June 19th 1866 on the first anniversary of a Union General arriving in Texas to enforce Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863). As Black Texans moved to other states, they brought Juneteenth with them. The celebrations gained popularity during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and many states have followed Texas’s lead by making Juneteenth a holiday commemorating the end of slavery, including New Jersey.

Just as June 19th brings pride and joy, another event that happened on May 31st through June 1st in 1921 casts a long shadow on race relations in the U.S., the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Without provocation, a white mob launched an assault on the thriving and prosperous African American community in Tulsa that left hundreds dead and injured, and homes looted and burned to the ground. Most of the dead who could be found were buried in a mass grave. There was nothing left of the town. It was uninhabitable. For decades afterward news and information about this massacre was stifled with few survivors to speak for the dead. This horrific massacre is only one of many in our history that are not commonly known.

This weekend let’s celebrate with our African American brothers and sisters on June 19th, mindful of the long road they have been traveling for freedom and equality, as well as all citizens’ roles in solidarity with them in this unfinished journey.

In October the Social Concerns Ministry will be offering a series of programs on Catholic Social Teaching, the first principle of which is “The Dignity of the Human Person and the Sanctity of Human Life, that every person has a unique and special dignity in light of the fact that he or she was made in the image and likeness of God; and therefore entitled to certain basic human rights”. Several of our popes have applied this cornerstone of Catholic Social Teaching to present- day society, some particularly with regard to race relations. A written record of such addresses starts with Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), then Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), Pope St. John XXIII (1958-1963), Pope St. Paul VI (1963-1978), and continuing through Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI to Pope Francis today. Pope Leo said,,”For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself”. (Galatians 5:14)

Let us continue to strive to achieve social justice for African Americans and all vulnerable persons in our lifetimes. Below is a Prayer offered by St. John Paul II that speaks to this issue.

Lord God, our Father, you created the human being, man and woman, in your image and likeness, and you willed the diversity of peoples within the unity of the human family. At times, however, the equality of your sons and daughters has not been acknowledged and Christians have been guilty of attitudes of rejection and exclusion, consenting to acts of discrimination on the basis of racial and ethnic differences. Forgive us, and grant us the grace to heal the wounds still present in your community on account of sin, so that we will all feel ourselves to be your sons and daughters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

SOME RESOURCES:

For additional information on the subject of Catholic Social Teaching relevant to this subject see:

“Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism” (2018) http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/upload/open-wide-our-hearts.pdf

Pope Francis’ third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship (overview & summary) https://www.usccb.org/resources/fratelli-tutti-overview-summary

Some historical scholarship and articles relevant to this subject:

The Union Army and Juneteenth, 1865, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (Short history & teacher discussion questions to grade school, middle school and high school students) https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-resources/spotlight-primary-source/union-army-and-juneteenth-1865

Nearly two dozen Black massacres in American history: A searchable database of race massacres shows the depths of America’s struggle to live its principles of equality, by Eileen Rivers, USA TODAY (Updated May 31, 2021)[see chart] https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/opinion/policing/2021/05/30/massacres-reparations-discrimination-race-racism/5237713001/

Eric Foner, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, (NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2019)

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Melvin Washington, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. (NY: Harper & Row, 1986)

Questions, concerns, or to join the Social Concerns Ministry contact Barbara Albert by email babstraveler.ba@gmail.com or phone 201-247-2798.


Welcome to Fr. Jonathan Yabiliyok

Fr. Jonathan Yabiliyok, a priest of the Diocese of Zaria, Nigeria will be joining us as a summer priest from July 7-September 7. Father Jonathan was ordained in 14th June, 1997 and received a PhD from Forham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in 2019. Please be sure to say hello and introduce yourself to him.

St. Thomas the Apostle History

Click on any picture for a larger image


On June 25th, 1939 the first parishioners of Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish gathered to worship in a rented 60 x 100 foot tent that was erected on the current property. The first mass said by the first pastor Fr. Herron in the tent. If you have heard the term the “tenters” at St. Thomas, it comes from those early days of our parish that started with just 300 families.



Graduation Class from Saint Thomas the Apostle in the early 1940s.



Herron Hall Mass when the current school building was both the church building and the school



Ground breaking for the current Saint Thomas the Apostle church building was in September 1956 with the pastor, Monsignor Magnier, digging the first spadesful of dirt. The first mass said in the current church was February 21, 1960.

More pictures and documents about the history of Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish are located at https://www.stachurchbloomfield.com/web/parish-history/


Annual Appeal Update
Saint Thomas the Apostle Appeal Status
Four months ago on February 14th was our Pledge and Collection Weekend and we have made great strides to our parish goal. Please continue to drop your pledge and collection envelopes in the collection basket at mass or place them in the lock box at the top of the Parish Center steps. Thank you to those who have already made their gift to the 2021 Annual Appeal. Our goal of $99,856 can only be achieved through YOUR generosity! Under the new Archdiocese guidelines, if a parish does not reach their goal the balance must be made up as an expense in the 2022 parish operating budget year. To date the amount pledged is $87,842.

Will you join your fellow parishioners in supporting this effort that strengthens many important programs and ministries across the Archdiocese of Newark including our own parish school? Click here for a playlist of the videos produced by the Archdiocese of Newark

If you have not yet made a gift, there will be pledge forms available at the doors of the church, or you can visit https://www.rcan.org/sharing. Please be sure to credit our parish if you donate online. Your gift will truly make a difference. Thank you for your prayers and support.


Is it time to come back? – Reconciliation


Reconciliation is available at Saint Thomas on Saturdays at 1:00PM.

For reconciliation resources at Saint Thomas please click here

Click here for symbols of reconciliation around our church and parish center.


Feast of St. Thomas – July 3rd

My Lord and My God Window at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

St. Thomas, our parish patron Saint, was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was a Jew from Galilee called by Jesus to accompany him on his mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God. When Jesus’ life was threatened as he went to raise Lazarus from the dead, Thomas said to the others, “Let us also go, that we may die with Jesus’.

Thomas doubted that Jesus had truly been raised from the dead. The Resurrection was proven to Thomas when Jesus appeared to him. Thomas said, “My Lord and My God”.

St. Gregory the Great once said, “The unbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. Our doubts are answered by the demand of St. Thomas to know that Jesus’ resurrection was real.

In John 14: 1-7 we hear St. Thomas again. This Gospel is part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse given at the Last Supper. It is often heard at funeral Masses, as it is a source of comfort and hope. Thomas could not comprehend what Jesus meant when he said, “I will come back again and take you to Myself, that where I am you may also be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas’ question is, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we now the way?” Jesus replies, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

According to tradition, St. Thomas preached the gospel in India and was martyred there.



Links to Scripture about St. Thomas the Apostle:

Farewell from the Website/E-Newsletter Minister

One of my favorite hymns is “Jerusalem My Destiny” that includes the line, “Let no one walk alone, the journey makes us one.” Today, I continue my journey with fond memories and much thanks to the Saint Thomas community for allowing me to minister as the website director for the past 14 years. The digital outlets that the parish had set up allowed some comfort and connectedness during a time of isolation so no one would feel totally alone. I feel blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to have many pieces in place when they were needed, especially during the pandemic. I am humbled to have been part of that.

My mom always said I was good at pushing buttons, but she may have meant her buttons and not computer keys. Like my father (Happy Father’s Day Pop), I show that I care by doing things for people and doing them relatively quietly. He takes after a Saint Francis of Assisi slogan, “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words,” and I follow in their footsteps, Francis being both their first names and my middle name.
It was, and still is, a great experience learning about the parish: its history, its ministries and, most importantly, the people that make up the Church, the People of God. My goal and hope was to provide a reflection of the parish so that people looking for a place to pray, worship or be part of a community would find it and join us. I also had in mind to build the website as a teaching tool since I was teaching religious education at the time (see page 3 of the 2008 newsletter) and as a possible evangelization tool for those wishing to reach out to friends, family and neighbors about our wonderful parish community. In the words of Jean Baptist DeLaSalle, patron saint of teachers and founder of the religious order that taught me in college, “You teach others more of what you love than what you know.” So, hopefully, the website also reflects a love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

“Lord, take me where You want me to go; let me meet who You want me to meet; tell me what You want me to say; and keep me out of Your way.”
— Fr. Mychal F. Judge, O.F.M. FDNY Chaplain
(see footnote)


Now seems like the right time to start pursuing other things in my life, passing the baton to other parishioners as the baton was passed along to me in 2007. St. Thomas has a rich history of communication going back to the founding of the parish in 1939 (see our page of scanned historical documents). I hope I built well upon that foundation and that it gives a good framework to continue with the ministry in service of the parish. You may have seen the advertisement in the bulletin and heard the announcement from the altar. We have a few replies already and I will help transition the team as they need me. If a dyslexic engineer with atrocious grammar and the social graces of Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory” can support a parish communication committee, then anyone can help. (Note to self – God has a sense of humor.)

Some thank yous…

Thanks to Father Charles for initially entrusting me with the task and letting me run with it and to Father Larry for allowing me to continue. Thanks to the other priests and other mentors, too many to mention here, who gave me tips and ideas to try out.

Thanks to those who helped with the printed newsletter from 2007-2009: Angelique, Renee, Laura, Lauren, Laurie, Pat, Eileen, George, Anna, Fran and Tom.

Thanks to those who helped with the electronic newsletter from 2014-2018 and 2020-2021: Jim, Jeff, Angelique and other guest writers including ministry leads.

Thanks to the social media team from 2014 to present: Lysa, Robyn, Patricio and Kim.

Thanks to the recording team formed in June 2020: Dan, Tom, Ann Marie, Patricio and Kim.

Be well. God Bless. Peace.

TFR

Digital media stats over the past 14 years
  • 3 major website designs/redesigns with over 2000 unique posts and pages over 14 years. Too many updates to keep track of and about now 6,000 visits and 20,000 pages viewed per month (we had 2,000 visits 6,000 pages pre-pandemic).
  • Facebook – 497 people likes, 554 followers, 2,364 people checked in
  • YouTube. 450+ subscribers, 300+ videos posted. Our first mass during the pandemic had nearly 1500 views.
  • Instagram – 160+ followers since last year we started the account last year
  • Google business- 300-600 searches per week
  • Twitter feed and a LinkedIn group
  • E-newsletter- 50 issues, 500 emails in the database, 300 opens per issue.
To paraphrase John 21:25 “There are also many other things that the parish of Saint Thomas has done, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world web would contain the pages and posts that would be written.”

Footnote
A prayer I like to say in the morning and when I am engaged in some activity at church. It is a reminder that God is calling us to be present and to make God present to others where they are in their lives. It is a prayer by Fr. Mychal F. Judge, Franciscan Friar and chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Fr. Mychal died on September 11, 2001 while ministering to victims of the attack on the World Trade Center.

Image of Saint Francis from the Christ the King Window at Saint Thomas the Apostle. Image of Jean Baptiste DeLaSalle from Teresa of Calcutta Parish.

Communication Committee – What Is Next

The parish will be creating a new email list and system, and possibly including a texting list, sometime in the Fall of 2021. The parish will either import the email addresses from this system into that one or send one last email from this platform with information about how to register in the new system. Things are still being discussed.

Mass Times

Weekend Masses – Saturday 5:00PM,
Sunday 8:00AM, 10:00AM and 12:00PM
Weekday Masses – Monday-Friday 11:30AM
Reconciliation – Saturday at 1:00PM

Mission Statement

The Roman Catholic Faith Community of St. Thomas the Apostle recognizes God’s call to be a sign of His Kingdom in the communities we serve.

We respond to this call by:
  • Leading people to a deeper relationship with Christ by providing opportunities for spiritual growth, renewal, education, the celebration of the Sacraments, and the worship of God in the sacred liturgy;
  • Encouraging a commitment to justice and to service of those in need;
  • Promoting good stewardship of our time, talent, and treasure;
  • Building a community of hospitality and support in the daily living out of Christian ideals by nourishing mutual respect and understanding within our Church, our families, our community, and other faith traditions.