This summer’s occasions of grace

Bishop Dennis Sullivan stands with Jahni Garcia during a pastoral visit to St. Anthony of Padua School, Camden, on Sept. 3. Photo by James A. McBride
Bishop Dennis Sullivan stands with Jahni Garcia during a pastoral visit to St. Anthony of Padua School, Camden, on Sept. 3.
Photo by James A. McBride


Labor Day has passed. The shortening of daylight is a reminder that summer, in which for me there have been occasions of grace, is ending.

A visit with Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok from Uganda.

Four of his priests minister in our diocese. The Church in Africa is growing rapidly. African Catholicism enriches the whole church with its jubilant expressions of prayer and its thorough catechetical formation of the faithful. This young church can teach us about evangelization.

Visits to the farm worker ministry sponsored by two parishes, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Newfield and Holy Cross, Bridgeton.

Weekly, parishioners and priests go to farms to celebrate the Sacraments and visit the migrant workers. This ministry allows the farm workers to experience the care of the church and the parishioners to know about the lives of the seasonal workers.

Two celebrations of wedding anniversaries.

The 50th of a couple from Wildwood who are as much in love as on the day of their wedding in 1965. The husband gave a toast in which he expressed gratitude to God for the gifts of his wife and family. His words were better than any love poem as he spoke about the presence of God in his wife and in their marriage.

The 60th anniversary of a couple I have known from my first assignment. Another example of the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony at a time when some Catholic couples choose to live together without the benefit of the Sacrament and when the very definition of marriage has been changed by the Supreme Court. Their three children spoke lovingly about the sacrifices their Irish immigrant parents did for them.

Our group tour of Ireland to enjoy the Emerald Isle.

The guide tutored us in Irish history and on the issues that confront modern Ireland. You haven’t seen green until you visit Saint Kevin’s Monastery at Glendalough. You haven’t experienced the power of the ocean until you have stood at the majestic cliffs of Moher. God’s glory made visible in the Irish countryside. A glory that the Holy Father recently reminded us needs protection.

Two funerals.

That of Bishop Thomas Donato, an auxiliary bishop in Newark. The basilica of the Sacred Heart was packed. Crowds could not fit into the parish church in Bayonne on the night before. He was a priest and bishop loved and respected. A servant priest as each priest should be.

My cousin Mary Keane Lappetito who was the oldest of the first generation of our family born in this country. We were saddened by our loss but more saddened by the Alzheimer’s disease that robbed us of her for the past two years. Research on this terrible disease needs more funding.

Two school visits.

Saint Anthony’s Camden which is sponsored by the Catholic Partnership Schools. Their generosity keeps this school and four others open in Camden. These are schools where poor children have a chance at a better life because of the first class education they receive while at the same time they are formed in our Catholic faith. Neither of which are available in Camden public schools.

Bishop Schad School,Vineland. Just what a principal and a teacher need, the bishop on the first day of school! What a delight to welcome the children as they were exiting the buses. I thanked their parents for choosing a Catholic school. I recognize their sacrifices, as well as the sacrifices of the dedicated faculty. Catholic schools provide an education of the soul, mind and body. More families would choose them if vouchers were available.

The 50th anniversary Mass of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Sicklerville.

That is an achievement. This parish has developed into a dynamic community and continues to grow under the leadership of the Pastor, Father Michael Matveenko, and the staff. The Catholic parish works. It takes cooperation and communication between God’s people and a committed staff. Our task is to make it work even better.

Now onto autumn and the Apostolic Visit of our Holy Father. Exciting Autumn days filled with occasions of God’s grace are ahead.