January, 2023

St. John Neumann Catholic Community
Staffed by Oblates of St. Francis de Sales

Current Mass Times

Saturday: 5:00pm


7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:00pm (español), 5:00pm

Monday-Friday: 9:00am

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:10pm

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Saturday: 10:00am-10:30am (English)

Sunday: 3:00pm- 4:00pm (español)

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Pastor's Perspective

Happy New Year!

 “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life

                                      is thank you, it will be enough.”

                                      (Meister Eckhart)

Dear Friends,


Happy New Year!


As I write this column, I have just finished formulating several personal goals for the New Year. As part of this process, I took some time to reflect upon this past year, including highs and lows, both in my personal life and for the parish.  Though this list could be lengthy, I will just mention a few. One of the highs this past year was St. John Neumann’s first annual Fall Festival. God blessed us with the most beautiful weather that day. We had over 500 people attend, which included many children participating in good old-fashioned fun and enjoying good food prepared by the Knights of Columbus and our Hispanic community. It was great to see many families, both new and seasoned coming together as one community, especially after all the challenges of the past several years. Another high on a personal note was for my family, as we welcomed our newest member, a healthy boy named Colin, who was born on Halloween.  

There were also a few low points. The vandalism on our Church property last June was certainly troubling and sad.  A personal low for my family and me was the sudden loss of my oldest sister last May, which created a huge void. We as a parish also suffered the loss of a number of parishioners, as we seem to do every year; this gives us reason to pause as it also creates a void in our faith community.  

These are just a few examples of some of the highs and lows for me and the parish this past year. I am sure you could add your own items to this list. Yet, through all this, the virtue of gratitude is what resides in my heart as I simultaneously look back at the past and look forward to the future. For me, one of the hallmarks of living a Christian life is gratitude. To be honest, there are days that I find this most challenging. Yet, sometimes in these moments, it proves to be most profound and helpful in living my life as a Christian. It is why I used the quote above from the mystic Meister Eckhart.  

As sudden and difficult as it was to lose my sister, through her death, I learned a lot of beautiful things about her that I never knew. This has helped me appreciate so much about her life and challenged me to be a better person. Bottom line, though I grieve her death, I am so grateful for the gift that her life was to so many people in unique and special ways.

Though the destruction of our parish property was senseless and a very sad statement about how people express their differences, it was heartening to see not only our parish community coming together but we also received so much support from other faith communities and civic organizations both near and far. I was grateful for the support, prayers, and love showed to our community during a challenging time.

One last high that I would like to share is the Synodal Listening sessions that took place at SJN last spring. Though in some ways challenging, these sessions also affirmed our parish life. I believe some common themes have given us valuable food for thought.  We compiled the feedback from the sessions and sent it on to the Diocese. This past fall, the Pastoral Council reviewed the reports synthesizing common themes from the sessions it believes the parish would benefit from by exploring further as we strive to be a welcoming and loving community. As I mentioned in the January 1 bulletin, we will begin to share some steps the different areas of parish life will take to address these common themes. I communicate this to you here because this Synodal process will continue at the universal Church level and the parish, giving me reasons to be hopeful for our future as a faith community. It also causes me to be most grateful for all that SJN has been and will continue to be as a witness to living the Gospel and being a welcoming community.

My prayer for all of us is that as we begin this new year, we embrace gratitude as an essential ingredient to living our Christian lives, especially in times of challenge and adversity.

Live Jesus,

Fr. Joe  

Save The Date For These

Upcoming Events at SJN

Madonnas of Color - Tuesday, January 24, 7:00pm: Join Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS, for a talk about his latest book, "Madonnas of Color," and explore how art depicts our Lady across the world. This event will take place in the Brown-McCarthy Auditorium.

SJN Parish Lenten Mission - Sunday, March 12 - Tuesday, March 14: More details on the mission's theme and speaker will be forthcoming.

Live Jesus! 2023 - Saturday, March 18: "Live Jesus" 2023 will take place at St. Paul VI High School,  42341 Braddock Rd, Chantilly. Speakers will include Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS; Sr. Susan Louise Elder, OSFS; and Dr. Thomas Opfer, Ph.D. Registration will open soon.

Look for details on all of these events in the weekly SJN bulletin.

Catechetical Corner

2023 – A time to show hesed to others!

by Jean Lupinacci


My two sisters and I are praying together with the devotional book “Three Wise Women: Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna” by Dandi Daley Mackall for the Christmas season. This week the Hebrew word hesed came up, pronounced Khed’-sed. Hesed appears in the Old Testament over 250 times and is translated into English in several ways: loving kindness, faithfulness, grace, love, mercy, loyalty, unfailing love, and compassion. The devotional journal prompted us to choose which translation of hesed best described our relationship with God. And then to identify what relationships with family and friends have characteristics of hesed since we can also use the word in connection with human relationships.

This exercise generated a lot of reflection and conversation for us. I have always felt God near me, even if in the background, waiting, accepting, and loving me. If imperfect love exists in my human relationships, I can always turn to God for perfect love filled with love, mercy, and compassion. Also, God’s hesed is a model of what I can have in my marriage and other relationships. Specifically, I have learned that God’s mercy is the perfect model for how I can act with others. I learned that through the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The father in the story shows mercy to the son, who returns home after spending his inheritance. The father was waiting for his son and caught sight of him from a long way off, ran to him, embraced him, kissed him – and immediately forgave him. In the past, I have identified with the prodigal son in the story,

but I can also identify with the father in the story and focus on showing mercy to others.

One sister describes hesed as unconditional love. She has learned that God loves her wonderfully throughout her whole life. She has that love for her husband and her family and sees it as a great gift. As she reflects on hesed she wants to be less judgmental and more merciful to others. She wants to listen more with her ears and see more with her eyes but speak less with her mouth. She feels well-loved by God, family, and friends and wants to do the same for others.

My other sister understands hesed as all-loving sprinkled with grace, kindness, mercy, and compassion. She wakes up praying each morning and trusts that God will show her this way to be with her family and friends. She would like to show this more outwardly as God does for her but realizes it is hard to do as humans with egos. She wants to take God’s gift of love and presence in her life and give it back to those around her.

In 2023 let us all consider what God’s hesed means to us and how we can express it in our human relationships. How do we show mercy, kindness, love, loyalty, and compassion to others? Who in our lives needs this from us? Who is suffering? Who is feeling unloved? Who has been betrayed? Let us do as my sister says –understand God’s hesed for us and give it back to those around us.

Peace and Happy New Year!


Clergy Spotlight

Fr. John W. Crossin, OSFS

This month, we are spotlighting Fr. John W. Crossin, OSFS.

Where are you from and what lead you to the Priesthood?

“I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was born and raised there. I knew I wanted to become a Priest when I read St. Francis de Sale's “Introduction to the Devout Life” on a high-school retreat.“ “Years later, also on retreat, I discerned a call to write a book on ecumenical ethics rooted in St. Francis de Sales!!

What do you do for the Parish?

I am in residence here at SJN. I celebrate Masses and I hear confessions. I also serve as Chaplain to the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales group that meets here at the parish. And, in addition to all of those things, I provide spiritual direction to over 20 people.”

What is Spiritual Direction?

“Well, it's just what it sounds like. I meet with the folks once a month,

one-on-one, and we talk about their spiritual journey. We discuss where they are at and how they are progressing, and I advise them on achieving their goals and what they should read, etc., to get there. Of course, I ground all the direction in the teachings of St. Francis de Sales. The goal is to help people lead a full spiritual life.”

What do you do in your free time? I wrote a book!

Free time? What free time? No, actually I have spent the last two years writing a book, "Moving into the Ecumenical Future: Foundations for a Paradigm for Christian Ethics," and it was recently published. It explores 'some necessary foundations of any paradigm for Christian Ethics.'" The book also explores the importance of virtue ethics in achieving these goals. "I also place emphasis on how moral acts and virtue ethics can help us in peacebuilding." "In fact, I'll be hosting a talk about the book, and a signing, here at SJN on Saturday, February 11 at 11:00am. I invite any teen or adult with an interest in Christian ethics and ecumenical issues to attend.”

What is your background in ecumenical issues?

“I have a deep background on the subject, most recently serving as Executive Director, Secretariat for Ecumencial and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "I also hold a doctorate in Moral Theology, particularly emphasizing the Christian ethics of St. Francis de Sales. I have also spent eight years on the Vatican-World Council of Churches Joint Working Group. In addition, I have written multiple papers on the topics that Christian ethics and Ecumenical thought produce.”

Will you write another book?

“I don't know, it took me over two years to write the last one. I suspect I will probably write a follow-up to this book. It is more likely to be a collection of essays that I have previously written that expand on the ideas that the book presents.”


A Catholic First

The First Christian Rock Song

by Duane Hyland

If your parents raised you as mine did me, they might have taken a dim view of heavy metal or hard-rock music. And those music genres offer images and lyrics that are usually not Christian or moral. But, one group’s music is getting a new look from music historians in their effort to determine the first song in the genre of Christian Rock. The band? “Black Sabbath.” Yep, that band - “Singer John “Ozzy” Osbourne, guitarist Anthony “Tony” Iommi, bassist Terence “Geezer” Butler, and drummer William “Bill” Ward.” Mostly, they were known for driving beats, heavy guitar riffs, and their on- and off-stage antics. But now, they are widely recognized for another thing - writing and performing the first authentic Christian rock song, “After Forever,” found on their album “Black Sabbath: Master of Reality.” 

The song is an expressive anthem of Christian beliefs; it challenges us to think about salvation, asking: “Have you ever thought about your soul? Can it be saved?” It tells us that we have to change our ways, urging: “Well, I have seen the truth, yes I’ve seen the light, and I’ve changed my ways, and I’ll be prepared when you’re lonely and scared at the end of our days.” It also acknowledges that publicly professing a love of God, especially in today’s world, has its risks and that we could lose friends or social status because of it, proclaiming: “Could it be you’re afraid of what your friends might say, if they knew you believe in God above?” While reassuring us that the people who would condemn us for our faith “should realize before they criticize...That God is the only way to love.” The song ends with a reminder: “Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone. Open your eyes, just realize that he’s the one. The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate.” It ends by asking us, bluntly, after we have heard and considered the Word of God and Christ’s message - “will you still jeer at all you hear?” And warns that if we ultimately reject Christ, “... it’s too late.”

When a journalist asked the group’s Bassist, Terence “Geezer” Butler, a Catholic, why he wrote the song, Butler replied: “lot of it was because of the situation in Northern Ireland at the time. There were a lot of religious troubles between the Protestants against the Catholics. I was brought up strictly Catholic and I guess I was naïve in thinking that religion shouldn’t be fought over. I always felt that God and Jesus wanted us to love each other. It was just a bad time in Northern Ireland, setting bombs off in England and such. We all believed in Jesus — and yet people were killing each other over it. To me it was just ridiculous. I thought that if God could see us killing each other in his name, he’d be disgusted.” And I doubt anyone could argue with that.

To listen to a discussion of Black Sabbath’s “After Forever” and its place in Christian rock history from the Catholic perspective, and the song’s ability to “reach people where they are at,” click here

While Black Sabbath will always be controversial - given some of their antics and a few of their songs, “After Forever” earns the title of the first Christian rock song. The band, perhaps, is showing us that God will use unusual means to get His Word to us!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
John 15:1-2