St. John The Evangelist

St. John The Evangelist

R.C. Church, Center Moriches, N.Y.

Seventh Sunday of Easter: May 28 - June 3

5/28 Bulletin   5/21 Bulletin

“But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed - but glorify God because of the name.” 1 Peter 4:16

St. John's Pastor: Father John Sureau

May 28: Regarding Father McDonald

Dear Parish Family:

“What did I just go through?” This question was asked by a young adult client of mine who had visited me in my last parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Knowing that a funeral was about to end and so was our session, we walked over to the Sacristy to visit the guest celebrant. I knew what was about to happen to this young man. In a span of about five minutes, he was asked why he was not a priest, told he should consider ending the relationship with the girlfriend (“we can take care of ending that”), told to shave and informed that the person who was speaking to him had celebrated mass just about every day of his adult life. What did that young man just go through? He had just met Msgr. James M. McDonald.

On Wednesday, I received an encouraging email from Msgr. McDonald about our Mass for Healing on Tuesday. He offered his support and expressed his great love for St. John’s. He wrote me, “You will find, however, that there are no people like those of St. John. Even more - our Blessed Mother will help you as she did me.” Is anyone surprised that he would write this to me? Today, at his present parish of St. Aidan’s in Williston Park, Msgr. McDonald will celebrate his 50th anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. Whenever I think of him it is always with great awe and admiration.

Our paths have crossed in different ways over the years. He interviewed me before I entered the seminary. We both served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. When I learned of my assignment here, he was one of the first people I called. (Are you surprised that he had already heard about the assignment?)

Whenever we meet each other, there are often jokes back and forth about different things. I have been told that I am a “delayed vocation” and am “renewed” (not sure that’s a compliment). Any of you who attended the funerals of Ernie Vigliotta and Ben Pirraglia this past November know what I am speaking about. I often have a few quips back too! But he always, always, always ends with words of admiration, love and support and comments, “You’re not that different than me” (I think that’s a compliment).

One of the first people I thought of when I learned of last Friday’s events was Msgr. McDonald. I know of his love for Center Moriches and all of you at St. John’s. I also know how instrumental he was in getting our present building established and, yes, I know it was a challenging time for him and for the parish. My heart broke for him as I realized what was happening to the church building. My heart broke because I don’t think I know a more dedicated and committed priest or human being than Msgr. McDonald. He is often the first to write a note or send an email. If you’re sick or in the hospital, he’s there regardless of where you might be ailing. Calling others to the sacraments like no other. Supporting people through the annulment process. Celebrating weddings, funerals and baptisms wherever needed. Committed to celebrating of the Eucharist like no other.

Encouraging vocations anywhere and everywhere. Before he even knew me personally, he saw me a few times as a student and campus minister and asked, “Why aren’t you a priest?” While I did not know him well then, he certainly made an impression. I think of him during these difficult days at St. John’s. These days that are, at times, pretty overwhelming. I recall his amazing devotion. I remember his commitment to the people. I even smile at some of his classic lines and phrases. His presence helped to transform this parish through some pretty difficult times. His presence here on Tuesday was a good reminder that, indeed, we’re going to be OK!

In Jesus and Mary, let us pray in thanksgiving for the priestly presence of Msgr. McDonald. May today’s celebration be a source of joy and celebration for him as it is for the church.

May 19: Adressing the Tragedy at SJE

Dear Friends:

In the second reading at mass this Sunday, St. Peter tells us to be sure to "give reason for our hope". As I write today about our parish, at first glance, it might seem hard to give reason for our hope.

A life has been a lost. A building seriously damaged. A local community shaken. A parish community broken.

Yet, we are a people of hope. It's what the season of Easter is all about. We find light in darkness. We rise in death. We discover hope in despair.

Our parish community has been rocked in these past few hours. No question. But we will come through this because of the faith that makes us Catholic, a faith that transcends any building, that overcomes any tragedy.

We find reasons for hope in the many acts of goodness we have been recipients of in these hours. The hundreds of people who came to St. John's wanting to do something. The OLQA community for taking good care of our students. The staff at St. John's for working tirelessly to guide local officials. The incredible and amazing outpouring of service from the Suffolk County Police Department. The presence of Bishop Perez all day at SJE and the support of Bishop Barres - plus so many others who reached out to provide resources and express support. Yes - good reasons for hope.

Let us pray for and with one another in these days. Let us pray too for the man who barricaded himself in the church and whose life was lost today. Pray for his family and friends too. Prayer. Another good reason for our hope!

Our Lady Queen of the Apostles, pray for us. St. John the Evangelist, pray for us. Please be patient. Peace.

Father John

May 21: Welcome Alex Finta! Another Advocate

Dear Parish Family:

As we move closer and closer to the feast of Pentecost, the Gospels draw our attention to the working of the Spirit. In today’s Gospel, Jesus assures us of the presence of the Advocate who will come and will never leave us as orphans (John 14). We seek and pray for the coming of the Spirit to not only comfort and console us but to inspire us to be advocates for one another.

This week, I want to share some good news about and for our parish family. After consultation with the Sister Ann, the Pastoral Team and the Finance Council, I am excited to announce that Alex Finta has been hired as the new Associate Director of Parish Social Ministry at SJE! This is indeed good news and, to take from today’s second reading, another reason “for our hope” at St. John’s (1 Peter 3:15). Alex has served here over the past year as a social work intern. Since his arrival in the parish and in the school, he has gently made an impact on the lives of many. Recognizing Alex’s talent and his deep desire to minister to the poor and vulnerable, as a parish we did not want to miss this opportunity for Alex and for St. John’s.

As the Associate Director of Parish Social Ministry, Alex will focus his work on the “peripheries”, the “going out” of the Gospel. A few years ago, Pope Francis said, “….we must open ourselves to the peripheries, also acknowledging that, at the margins too, even one who is cast aside and scorned by society is the object of God’s generosity. We are all called not to reduce the Kingdom of God to the confines of the “little church” — our “tiny little church” — but to enlarge the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God.” This will be Alex’s focus in ministry. As he has done with our rapidly expanding Street Ministry, I expect Alex to carry this same vision and energy into some of our existing ministries and draw on his experience and wisdom to create more ways for you and me to bring the Gospel to those in need. This will be in many obvious and not so obvious ways as he tries to expand the ministerial dimensions of our parish.

We do an amazing job of ministering to those who come to our doors. For example, over the past two months, St. John’s served over 1200 individuals through our Outreach work, the Food Pantry and the Thrift Shop. We are indebted to Sister Ann and the hundreds of volunteers who make all of this happen. Alex has worked with Sister Ann pretty closely throughout his internship. With these existing ministries already in place, we hope to be able to do even more for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in our parish community. Look for some new programs and ministries developing in this area as well as ways St. John’s will be more present in the local community, particularly to those on the peripheries.

It’s pretty clear why we are making this addition to our staff. How are we doing this? Well that part is because of you! Through your presence, generosity and financial support (particularly in the Sunday collection, the Parish Social Ministry Collection and the Poor Box) you demonstrate that caring for the poor and vulnerable is a priority for you and for our parish. This is another concrete action we are taking to care for those on the peripheries.

On a personal note, it has been a privilege to work and serve with Alex throughout this year. He is a man of great passion, witness and humility. Not only has he shared his many gifts with our parish community, but he has been open to the wonderful spirit that makes SJE the amazing parish that it is today. I am a better person because of his presence here. I am pretty sure you will be too!
With the help of the Advocate (John 14:16), I look forward to being an advocate with Alex and with all of you for those who are most in need.

Come Holy Spirit!

May 14: Happy Mother’s Day: They Make Mothers Tough for a Reason!

Dear Parish Family:

In my first months as a priest, I remember talking to a mother of two adult children. One of her adult sons was giving her a hard time. (We sons can be a handful!) She was getting a little upset and I said, “Oh, Mary, I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. I hope everything will be OK.” Without missing a beat, she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry about me, Fr. John. They make us mothers tough for a reason.” She’s right! They make mothers tough for a reason.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the Church today! While I cannot help but think of my own mom and the amazing woman she is, our thoughts and prayers, today, are with all of the mothers of our parish community. When I think of my own mom, particularly over this past year, I’m in awe of the selfless and humble sacrifices she has made for my dad and for our family. Not easy but no complaints. It is what mothers
do.

For so many women, in the spirit of the Blessed Mother, they offer their gifts for the good of our parish in so many various ways. How blessedare we as we give thanks to God for mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers, mothers to be, and all the women of our lives who make God’s presence known to us.I cannot help to also think of those who find this day difficult. I think of and pray for women who have struggled to have a child or faced the sickness and loss of a child. I think of and pray for women who have suffered through a miscarriage or have endured difficulty and challenge in raising their children. I think of the moms who pray and battle and struggle with their children battling addiction. I think of and pray for the mothers who have had to make the difficult decisions that love requires, even when it means putting in some boundaries and limits.

Indeed, they make mothers tough for a reason. And we are all better because of it! Let us give thanks to God this day and always, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, for the gift of mothers in our lives and the life of the Church.

Father John

P.S. I want to thank you for your prompt and generous response to the Catholic Ministries Appeal. In our latest report, we have raised over $113,000 which is 114% of our diocesan goal. This is more than we raised in total last year. We reached the diocesan goal in about two months making one of the first twenty parishes to reach the goal. Last year, we were still trying to reach the goal in October. So thank you! I cannot tell you how happy and, honestly, how relieved I am that we have made our goal. While we are still short of our Challenge Goal of $130,000, this will be the last mention of the Catholic Ministries Appeal for this year. I will write to previous year’s donors who have not made a pledge and we will leave it at that. I have asked the diocese to no longer send letters to anyone and we will not include any additional envelopes in the Fall, as the practice has been in the past. If you haven’t made a pledge yet and planned to do so, can I ask you to please follow up as soon as you can? Again, I am so grateful for everyone’s support. It means a lot and makes a great difference.