Thursday, February 27, 2014

150th Anniversary News

The year 2015 marks the 150th Anniversary of the founding of St. Stephen's Parish, the 50th Anniversary of St. Stephen - St. Edward School, and the 25th Anniversary of the 3rd Church of St. Stephen!

The following Anniversary events are confirmed. Mark these dates on your calendar!

 -          Opening 150th Anniversary Mass – Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 12:15 p.m. Celebrant is Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, Auxilary Bishop of New York and Episcopal Vicar of Orange County

-          Mass Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of St. Stephen’s Parish, the 50th Anniversary of St. Stephen – St. Edward School and the 25th Anniversary of the 3rd Church of St. Stephen – Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Celebrant is Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York

-          150th Anniversary Dinner Dance on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Kuhl’s Highland House, Middletown

We are now forming a 150th Anniversary Committee to begin planning these events. We also need to plan for an Anniversary Journal and a Parish Photo Album. Parishioners are welcome to join this committee. Our meeting dates at 7:30 p.m. are: Monday, March 24, Tuesday, April 22, Monday, May 19 and Monday, June 16.  Call the parish office to sign up.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pope Francis Letter To Families

Pope Francis wishes to communicate with all families and ask for their prayers regarding the upcoming Synod on the Family:

“Dear families,
With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.
This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.
I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he had finally 'seen' salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support… Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates our path; he gives us the Bread of life which sustains us on our journey.
Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord.”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Funeral Mass - James Hayes

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of James Hayes on Wednesday, February 19 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.


Father Michael will be away from the parish February 16 - 22. Father Micciulla will be away February 23 - March 1. Daily Mass for the next two weeks will be at 9:00 a.m.

President's Day

Monday, February 17 is President's Day. There will be one parish Mass at 9am. All parish offices will be closed on Monday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Congratulations Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger!

We received the news today that Msgr. Ed Scharfenberger, son of our own Ed and Elaine, has been named the new Bishop of the Albany Diocese. While it is a great loss for the Diocese of Brooklyn, Albany will soon be blessed with an outstanding priest and bishop. The Scharfenberger Family is very dear to the hearts of St. Stephen's parishioners, and we are so happy for them! Certainly there must also be great rejoicing in heaven today. We know that Jon will always support his uncle in prayer. May the Lord bless Bishop Elect Ed as he begins his new ministry.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pope Francis' Message For Lent

Note - This message was released on our Feast Day - St. Stephen, the First Martyr!

He became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich

(cf. 2 Cor

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9). The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean for us today?

1. Christ’s grace

First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: "though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …". Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus "worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin." (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says "that by his poverty you might become rich". This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), that he is "heir of all things" (Heb 1:2).
So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25ff ). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us. Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus’ wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him. Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his "yoke which is easy", he asks us to be enriched by his "poverty which is rich" and his "richness which is poor", to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother (cf. Rom 8:29).
It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.
2. Our witness

We might think that this "way" of poverty was Jesus’ way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case. In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor. God’s wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ.
In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual. Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.
No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.
The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion.
Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

 May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.
From the Vatican, 26 December 2013
Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Presentation - Let Your Light Shine!

Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

1)    Annunciation  2) Visitation  3) Birth of Jesus  4)  Presentation of Jesus  5) Finding Jesus in Temple

1)    Presentation – developed after the escape from Egypt – the first born is now dedicated to the Lord.

Joseph & Mary followed the teachings of their faith – and passed them on to their child.

Professor Bengston of USC – "How Religion is Passed Down From Generations."

Sure there will be many little Seahawk & Bronco fans rooting for their team – why – passion of their parents, especially dads. Why am I a Yankee fan – Dad.  Prof Bengston discovered parents still have huge effect on children’s souls.  Important for parents to model it – even more – to create close bonds with children – especially dads.    Live faith & be close to your children.

2)    Arrived at Temple – were met the faithful ones – Simeon and Anna

Each parish has their faithful ones – School had a Pancake Breakfast on Thursday: over 100 Simeons and Annas - teach religious ed – volunteer at everything – clean the sacred vessels and wash linens – count collection – raised money to build a church and keep the heat on

An opportunity for us to remember our older parishioners and to thank them for their faithfuilness. I want to encourage them to continue to give good example to the young. Also - notice how Simeon & Anna WELCOMED the young couple to the temple.

 3)    Feast of Presentation also known as Candlemas Day. Literal – Candle Mass. Blessed candles are available at the gift shop. Can bless candles after Mass anytime. Candle – a symbol of Christ – has to give of itself -  brings light into the world.  Christophers – Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness – going through parents things – found the candles lit on day of our baptisms – keep your light shining!

 Pass on the traditions -  with gratefulness to our elders – let your light shine!!!