Friday e-Note August 11, 2017

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One of the most memorable narratives in the Gospels was Jesus walking on the water. The scene evoked multiple themes in Christian spirituality: fear and doubt in times of stress, an encounter with the divine in the midst of the stress, peace after the troubles pass. The flow of the narrative matches our life experiences. Bad times do end; God is with us even in the darkest moments.

In the reading from 1 Kings, Elijah escaped sure death and fled into the mountains. On a lonely peak, he encountered God in a way that surprised him. God was not in the fire, the wind, or the earthquake. But he was in the wisp of the breeze.

Psalm 85 is a audacious claim upon God. "He blessed us once," the psalmist seemed to say, " and he will bless us again." Is this presumption or a solid faith? Certainly, we who depend upon God can pray that he will bless us again and again, despite our present condition.

St. Paul wrote the church in Rome a very personal note about his relationship with his fellow Jews. He desperately wanted them to believe as he did. They enjoyed the blessings of YHWH but wanted the fullness of faith for them.

The gospel of Matthew related the story of Jesus walking on the water. His followers traveled by boat at night and are caught up in a storm. Jesus appeared and encouraged them. When he entered the boat, the storm dissipated. If we follow the emotions of the scene, we can easily relate to the stress of troubles, the fear and awe from God's presence, and the relief when the troubles have passed.

New Zealand Council of Bishops

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A

Sunday Reflection
To get out of a boat in the middle of a storm and start walking across the water was certainly an act of faith on Peter's part. He wasn't even sure that the person walking across the lake to him was Jesus, but he knew that if it was he would not come to harm. When he lost his nerve and began to sink, Jesus put out his hand and held him, at once. This instant action indicates that Jesus did not take his eyes off Peter as he embarked on his walk of faith across the water. 
There is a saying that every journey begins with one small step. Peter's journey across the water began with the step out of the boat. With his eyes fixed on Jesus, he believed he could do something which was physically impossible, and for a few steps on his journey across the water he did the impossible. But when logic took over he began to sink.
Sometimes Jesus calls us to make a journey in faith. The first steps on the journey may not be difficult, as we are buoyed by faith and the momentum which is often part of beginning something new. But there is often a "dip" period after the beginning, where the momentum flags, the easy things have been done and problems emerge. Critics appear and the return for the energy expended seems very little. Like Peter we begin to feel the full force of the wind. At this point the initial act of faith which prompted us to step out on the journey can be replaced by doubt.
It is in this "dip" period that we make the real act of faith, without the support of the enthusiasm and emotions which prompted us to begin the journey. This is the time in which we need to remember that when Peter was sinking amid his doubts, Jesus responded at once to help him. More than that, Jesus put out his hand to help him which indicates how close Jesus was to Peter during the journey across the water. 
Peter had no hesitation in calling out "Lord! Save me!" when he got into difficulties. When we start to sink, the temptation is to try to save ourselves. In trying to save ourselves we abandon the original act of faith which propelled us into making the journey. In calling out to Jesus to save us, we abandon ourselves into his hands in a true act of faith. 

 St Edith Stein
Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 in a part of Germany that is now Poland. Her father died when she was two, and her mother, a woman of deep Jewish faith, struggled to run the family business and care for her children.
By the time Edith was a teenager, she fell away from the practice of Judaism and considered herself an atheist. In 1911, she began studying psychology at the University of Breslau, then transferred to another school where she could enroll in the classes of Edmund Husserl, a well-known philosopher. When World War I broke out, she put her education on hold and volunteered as a nurse. She finally earned her doctorate degree in 1916, and accepted a position as Husserl's assistant.
After reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Edith felt a strong pull toward the Catholic faith. She asked to be baptized, and on January 1, 1922, she became a Catholic. Her family and friends found it difficult to understand this decision. As the Nazi party was growing stronger, they felt that Edith was turning her back on her Jewish religion at a time when Jews needed to encourage and support each other more than ever.
Edith became a leader in the Catholic Women's Movement. She taught in a school that was run by the Dominicans and translated some of St. Thomas Aquinas' writings.
In 1934, she became a Discalced Carmelite in Cologne. Her new name as a nun was Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She continued to write, but most of her work could not be published at the time because she was a woman and because of her Jewish roots. As the Nazi party became stronger and more threatening, she was forced to escape to a Carmelite monastery in Holland.
When Germany invaded Holland, many Catholics of Jewish heritage were arrested and deported to the concentration camps of Auschwitz. Edith was among them. She died in Auschwitz in the gas chambers on August 9, 1942. Pope John Paul II canonized her on October 11, 1998.
As a philosopher, St. Edith Stein was devoted to seeking the truth. Her faith in Christ gave her the courage to die for the Jewish people whose heritage she shared. Our faith should make us just as courageous when we see people suffering discrimination for their beliefs
Memorable Quotes
Whatever did not fit in with my plan did lie within the plan of God. I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details has been marked out for me in the plan of Divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God's all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me. - Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need. Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the rasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God's hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him - really rest - and start the next day as a new life. - Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Learn from Saint Thérèse to depend on God alone and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart. Then, like her, you will be able to say 'I do not regret that I have given myself up to Love'. - Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace. - Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

We are proud to present our new and improved website! 

There are many new features and Catholic content ...
  • Static content about the Catholic faith, what Catholics believe, becoming Catholic, the Sacraments and more. 
  • Daily Meditations: Readings to help parishioners and visitors find a way to set the day in context.
  • Faith In Action: Stories about real people and their experiences, plus guides and games for family activities.
  • Catholic News and Perspective: Regularly updated news items covering the most pressing Catholic issues.
  • Convenient links for electronic contributions applications
  • All masses will now be streamed live to the website and Facebook Live and then archived when completed for later viewing - after a week of technological hiccups, learning curves and Mother Nature, I thing we have it locked in... (prayer hands emoji)
  • Link to the Pastor's weekly eNote and a link to the Pastor's blog 
  • Photo albums from many of the parish events over the past year under the Parish Life Tab
  • Parish Calendar of Events
               ....TO BE CONTINUED...

Take a look and enjoy... 

May God bless your travels through our new site with inspiration and peace!

Let us pray for those in our parish who were recently welcomed through 
the Sacrament of Baptism...

May their lifetime journey in faith sustain them and light their way.
Let us celebrate with great joy those within our parish who have recently joined hearts and hands in the most sacred union of Holy Matrimony.

May God continue to bless them and keep them in his watchful care for the rest of their lives as the two of them became one in their new seamless union of love.
Let us pray for those in our parish who have entered into their eternal rest,


Eternal rest grant unto them
 O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them..
May they rest in peace.

August 10, 2017

Parents and Guardians,

I pray this mid summer note finds you well and I hope you are having an enjoyable summer.

I am pleased to see so many early registrations.  In light of the fact that we started the process later in summer in anticipation of our new registration enhanced website, Pat Smith needs time to organize the classes and do all the administrative paperwork in preparation for the new year.  That is why we gave 6 weeks to register with an  August 31st deadline. Last minute registrations create havoc even in a well structured program.

I  know that several families are leaving our programs because there are too many "extra masses" this year. I understand and we have always known that our program isn't for all families, however, I'd like to explain these changes that were made in response to the 4 meetings we had in June. 

Our program is primarily an  Sunday Mass based program with a online at home catechesis component.  Although I said we would not "take attendance" last year because we were all working as a team and because of the administrative burden that would impose on Pat,  we still did need to have the children sign in for safety and dismissal purposes. I understood that we were all on the same page insofar as the importance of the child's attendance at the 19 masses with the option of 3 absences. 

In May, I asked Pat to give me a snapshot of attendance for the year per class and per student because on many weeks in both programs it seems that attendance was down.  I was very disappointed at the findings of this report. 

In our meetings in June I expressed my concern with Mass attendance.  This program was designed as an 8 year program with the intent of having the children attend at least 19 masses per year for 8 years or 152 masses over the 8 years.  

To put this issue in context, we are aware that many children are not attending mass if there are no classes and that most do not return regularly to  Sunday Mass attendance at all after Confirmation.  This gives a very limited amount of opportunity to teach the incredible beauty of the our highest form of prayer as Catholics. 

As their pastor, I believe that our 8 year religious education program is equipping them with enough comfort, knowledge and familiarity with the celebration of the Mass, so that when they return to a church for Mass sometime in their adult life when life has let them down, they will not feel confused or out of place.  They will know and understand exactly what is happening because of their training at St Joseph Church which will allow them to bring their problem to God in prayer, in our highest form of prayer, for guidance, resolution and peace. This is a gift of faith that will carry and encourage them for the rest of their lives. 

So this year, in light of the fact that many parents said they needed more choices for attendance at Mass, Fr Silva and I agreed to add more masses to the schedule which would afford more opportunities to make the 19 class masses  in 34 weeks - 25 weeks of which have class masses scheduled. So built into the schedule, of 34 weeks, 9 are pre-scheduled vacation weekends - no class mass. Of the remaining 25 weeks - 6 more weeks can be used at your discretion.  That leaves 19 masses which I would like to strive for as the minimum attendance per year for 8 years or 152 teaching masses over 8 years. I am willing to add the extra masses for your children, I believe if you register your child/ren, that you agree. 

As was mentioned at the meetings in June, we are also willing to adapt the program, if possible, for families who have children in the morning (6th grade) and evening (7th/8th) program.  Please call me to discuss options.  A program needs structure which needs to be the rule not the exception, I think you'll all agree.

So we are looking forward to another wonderful year and encourage you to reach out to me with any issues or concerns you may have to see if there can be a solution which is mutually satisfactory. 

Peace be with you!

Fr O'Neill

You are probably asking yourself what this familiar sign from Route 7 and 133 has to do with St Joseph Pro Life Committee.  Well, a few months ago the RTL committee thought we should begin to bring our pro-life message from the church to the community.  Let's face it, for the most part we are preaching to the choir when it comes to the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death... "Life" is God's greatest gift to the world and it needs to be protected and defended. I am sure we would not get too much resistance about that from our SJC faithful but spreading the message needs to be ubiquitous... (like Geico).

We believe that the community at large is not as informed or convinced of what we believe and why we believe it, so St Joseph Pro-Life Committee, under the leadership of chairperson Pat Tharrington, want to bring our message public and to do so using local bulletin boards.

Recently, have gotten quite an education on the location bulletin boards and their monthly rental fees.  We looked in New Milford, Danbury, Brookfield and Newtown.  We seem to be able to get the best value for our investment right in our backyard from Dr Jenny Conner's office on Federal Road ... and the months of November and December are available.  

The monthly rental is $1100 and the one time set up for the ad itself is $850 and it is reusable.  This is much more affordable then some of the others boards on more heavily travelled roads.  To fund this endeavor, we have begun a program called the weekly  Five $ for Life Envelope Campaign.   

Beginning this week we will have gray envelopes in the pew holders requesting financial assistance for our Pro-Life Bulletin Board Campaign.  We are trying to raise enough $FIVE$ to fund the November/December bulletin boards to kick off this campaign. We will replenish these envelopes each week and give you a running count of where we are in our goal process.... once we make our goal, we will secure the current bulletin board contract and then go in search of another available board to target and for which to save. 

St Rose of Lima in Newtown does a similar program however, they have an archangel that ensures financially that they have always have a Pro-Life message on Route 6 for the community to think about... If this is your passion and you have the where with all, please let us know. 

Thank you for your support of this very worthy campaign!

Education in the context of Faith is Wisdom

Happy Summer to St Joseph School!

            YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!


St Joseph is going GREEN and the work continues...

This week there was a lot of work going on underground as the electrical contractors began to run the cables from the Rectory, Parish Center and the School to the church basement. The trenches were backfilled and over the next few days they will be raked, leveled and seeded. 

(Above) The installation of the solar panels began this week on the school gym roof and the flat roof over the classrooms.  It is amazing the design they utilize for affixing the structures to the roof... it is minimally invasive and is designed to use the weight of the panels themselves on one side affixed to concrete blocks which eliminates the need to penetrate the roof membrane. Pictures will be posted in the next issue. 

Next week they are planning to go to work on the inside walls and attic areas of the buildings to insulate thoroughly to make the buildings as energy efficient as possible.

Lastly, we are still considering the best approach to the HVAC for the church to make sure we have the highest amount of heating and cooling at our disposal while not upsetting the ambiance and decor of the church building itself.   

This is a very exciting time for our parish, and it is especially timely in that these upgrades will be completed as we celebrate our 125th Anniversary year of serving the community of Brookfield. 

I'll update again next week but feel free to talk to me after Mass or call the office if you have any questions or suggestions.

Thank you and God Bless you!

PROGRAM OVERVIEW (from previous eNotes)
In a nutshell, the Federal Government, in conjunction with the State of Connecticut, the Town of Brookfield, Eversource Utilities, and the Connecticut Green Bank have offered a solar program called - the C-Pace Program.  

Early last year the Diocese of Bridgeport reached out to pastors and principals in the Diocese and presented this program to us as a viable way to upgrade our aging infrastructure. The cost of the upgrades is offset with solar credits from solar panels installed on the school building and by the reduction of annual energy costs by upgrading the HVAC systems in our buildings to high efficiency systems while thoroughly upgrading the foundation, walls and roof insulation to maximum R-factor ratings. In effect we use less by maximizing insulation R-values while minimizing overall energy usage through high efficiency HVAC systems thereby reducing energy costs. 





Yours in Christ Jesus,


Rev. George F. O'Neill
(please excuse my typos etc...)