Last weekend, a group from CNEWA visited Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, New York, at the kind invitation of the pastor, Father Charles Mangano.
My colleagues Norma Intriago and Chris Kennedy, supported by parishioners Deb Johnson and Joe Gioello, had a wonderful chance to meet the good people of the parish — answering questions, passing out copies of ONE magazine and providing brochures and prayer cards. We also set up a display and a couple tables in the vestibule to offer even more information.
On top of that, I served and preached at all the Masses for the weekend. It was Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of “rejoicing.”
As I mentioned in my homily:
This Sunday, we turn with greater expectation and joy toward the East and the place where Christ was born.
As you look East, look as well on the people of the East, in the land we call Holy. Tradition tells us that the wise men, the Magi, who first paid homage to the Christ child, were from Persia, the land we now know as Iraq. These people were among the first to hear that salvation had come into the world.
Twenty centuries later, their descendants — despite bloody and brutal persecution and against incredible odds — still hold fast to that bright promise of the first Christmas.
I concluded by asking people to help our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to remember the message of the angels at Christmas: “Do not be afraid” — and to offer them during this holy time of year the priceless gift of hope.
We always find these parish trips uplifting and rewarding, and are grateful for the new friendships we make and the partnerships we develop with many of the people we meet. The commitment and faith of those we encounter are truly humbling. So many people want to do something, but don’t know where to turn. One parishioner clasped my hand after Mass. “I pray a rosary every day for those people in Iraq,” he said, adding “thank you for coming here and spreading the word and giving me another way to help.”
If you’d like us to visit your parish — to speak at Masses or to prayer groups — just drop us a line at the address below. Our development director, Norma Intriago, will be happy to coordinate a visit.
Meantime, thank you to Father Charles and all the staff at Curé of Ars for making us all feel so welcome!