On New Year’s Day I had the privilege of celebrating Mass at our sister parish of St. Therese Chapel in Gansevoort. I was welcomed warmly by the parishioners, who said that it was nice that their “pastor” finally showed up for work! Fr. Tuttle has kept the jewel of St. Therese to himself for 20 years!
When I met with the parishioners after Mass, I was given a booklet that was prepared for the 50th Anniversary of the Chapel called, “St. Therese Chapel: A History of the ‘Jewel of Gansevoort.’” The Chapel celebrated their anniversary in 2016. When I read through the booklet, I was inspired by the faith of the congregation that built the Church with very few resources. The Chapel stands as a symbol of the vision and sacrifices of the many devout Catholic families in the area. On July 25, 1966, it was decided to name the Chapel for St. Therese of Lisieux, called “The Little Flower.”
The story of construction of the building was unique. There was no campaign to raise money. The biggest share of the material and money was donated. All the labor was done by the Catholic men who worshiped there. On September 18, 1966, the building was blessed and dedicated to St. Therese. After the Rite of Dedication, the deed was presented to the Bishop, making the Chapel truly a Roman Catholic place of worship, a Mission of St. Clement’s Church, Saratoga.
Now, getting back to Fr. Tuttle. Here’s what the booklet says about him: Fr. Tuttle has officiated the 10 o’clock Mass at the Chapel faithfully and dependably for over 20 years. Rain, snow or zero degree weather do not deter him as he makes the 22 mile round trip every Sunday. He is a skilled woodworker who designed and handcrafted the Paschal Candle stand at the Chapel. He is also a skilled turkey soup maker and loves jelly donuts. Also of note, his homilies keep parishioners waiting with baited breath for one of his rare but really good jokes!
So the next time you pass through Gansevoort, stop by our sister parish of St. Therese and maybe you can try the turkey soup. No chance that there will be any jelly donuts left!
– Fr. Ed Faliskie
Tuesday, January 22nd, is a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”. The following is part of a homily I delivered on this day several years ago while stationed in Brooklyn, NY.
“You shall be what you are created to be.”
We gather in prayer tonight to beg of God a renewal of commitment, energy, and perseverance so that we may fulfill what the 2nd Vatican Council described as the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life. We derive wisdom from praying together so that we might more effectively convince our governmental leaders that the constitutional protection of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must extend to every human being from conception to natural death.
And we derive our strength from praying here. How appropriate it is that we gather here this evening in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. There is no radar so finely tuned as the ears of a mother to the cries of her children. Mary, our mother, surely hears us, and in that hearing, there is hope. She has known the pain and anxiety of bringing a child into the world. She has known the horror of the Holy Innocents’ death. She has stood beneath her Son’s cross. There is no pain Mary has not already withstood. Let us take our strength from her.
We gather this evening in love, not hatred, love never wrongs the neighbor. Hence love is the fulfillment of the gospel and the law. May the God of love, the creator of life, continue to show his care for us. May the Lord Jesus walk with us in our efforts for justice and peace. May he give us the fullness of life. May our loving embrace of one another this evening reach out to include all our brothers and sisters in all stages of human development and in all circumstances.
As we begin a new year, I would like to introduce you (or re-introduce you), to our Redemptorist saint, St. John Neumann. We celebrate his feast day this week, on January 5th.
John Neumann was born in Prachatitz, Bohemia (now present day Czech Republic) on March 28, 1811. He studied theology at the seminary of Budweis. Zealous for the missionary life and wanting to lead souls to Christ, he decided to leave his homeland and dedicate himself to the European immigrants in America, who were deprived of spiritual support. He left his home, and sailed to America trusting only in God. He was not yet ordained. He had no money, and he had no idea where he would go, or if he would find a Bishop to ordain him a priest. He landed in New York city, where he sought out the Bishop there to offer his services. The Bishop was in need of priests, so John was ordained a priest by the Bishop of New York, and was assigned to the pastoral care of people in the vast area around Niagara Falls, NY. Since he wanted to live in a religious community that corresponded more closely to his missionary vocation, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), being professed on January 16, 1842. He was the first Redemptorist vocation in the new world. He was a tireless missionary, busying himself in particular with the German immigrants, first in Baltimore, then in Pittsburgh. He filled the role of vice-provincial of the Redemptorists from 1846 to 1849, after which he became the parish priest of St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore. In 1852, at the age of 42, he was named the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia. He had a strong effect on the religious life of the growing United States by founding Catholic schools and promoting devotion to the Eucharist. He is considered the founder of the Catholic School System in the U.S. In two years, the number of students in the parochial schools went from 500 to 9,000. He founded a new religious institute: the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. In the brief space of seven years he built eighty-nine churches, as well as several hospitals and orphanages. He even started a bank for the poor in Philadelphia which still exists today (Beneficial Bank).
A worthy son of St. Alphonsus, like him, he made a vow never to lose a minute of time. As a Bishop he was holy and tireless. Uninterruptedly he visited his vast diocese, mostly on horseback. On one occasion he traveled more than twenty five miles of mountain roads by mule in order to confirm a young boy who was sick. He learned several languages so he could hear the confessions of immigrants flooding into the young country.
On January 5, 1860, he died suddenly of a heart attack on a street in Philadelphia at he age of 49. He was beatified during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized on June 19, 1977. In the homily on the occasion of his canonization, Pope Paul VI summarized the activity of the new saint in these words: “He was close to the sick, he loved to be with the poor, he was a friend of sinners, and now he is the glory of all emigrants.”
St. John Neumann is buried under the altar of the lower Church at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia, PA., where he continues to intercede for all of us, especially the poor and marginalized.
Fr. Ed Faliskie, C.Ss.R.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The appearance of the Virgin Mother of Jesus at Guadalupe, near Mexico City, is the event that serves as the foundation for this feast. It is one of many events over the centuries in which Mary appears to the poor and dispossessed, asking them to speak to the powerful a word of warning or correction.
The Archbishop of Mexico was a representative of the wealthy, powerful, Spanish conquistadors. The Spaniards brought a version of Catholicism to the New World, but then corrupted its practices by using ecclesial leadership positions to reward men who were more loyal to the crown’s power than they were either to the Church or, more importantly, to Christ. The appearance of the Mother of God to an impoverished native American was a clear statement of God’s favor bestowed on the poor and humble instead of the rich and powerful.
This liturgical feast, then, of the patroness of the New World (the Americas) and especially of Mexico, reminds us that wealth is given to be shared so that everyone has their human dignity honored by virtue of their basic needs being met.
The readings of the Mass point to Mary’s role as a key sacrament and voice for the presence of the Lord. The stories of the Annunciation and the Visitation are both options for our meditation – pointing to Mary’s compliance with God’s Will and her servant love toward her cousin, Elizabeth whom she went out of her way to visit. The text particularly illuminates the role of the pregnant Mary as the bearer of God.
It is this same pregnant Mary who appears in the dress and visage of an Aztec Princess, the compassionate mother of the Aztec people, when she comes to the Native American Juan Diego on his way to Mass. Mary appears to him carrying Jesus in her womb, to bring the good news of salvation, and its attendant hope. She asks him to bear her message to the powerful Spanish Archbishop. The message was not lost on that biblically literate man that Mary’s visit brought God’s mercy to this people that he was bishop for, but had apparently neglected in his pursuit of his own power interests.
Such is Mary’s message today through the people of Mexico and the people of God throughout the world – all those who align themselves with Mary and with the poor to whom she comes to give hope and strength. Let us pray that God will let the message of God’s mercy be the voice of our hearts and mouths as Mary points us to the coming Emmanuel – God with us!
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word ADVENTUS which means “an arrival.”
We prepare to celebrate the greatest arrival – the arrival of God – made – man, Jesus Christ. The 17th-24th of December all have Special masses and Gospels from Matthew and Luke. In the breviary for these days, for evening prayer pray the “O” antiphons:
O Sapientia O Wisdom
O Adonal O Sacred Lord
O Radix Jesse O Root of Jesus
O Claris David O Key of David
O Oriens O Raident Dawn
O Rex gentium O King of Nations
O Emmanuel O Emmanuel
The first letters of the titles, from last to first, appear to form a Latin acrostic which translates to “Tomorrow, I will be [there]”, mirroring the theme of the antiphons. Father Saunders wrote, “According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, Tomorrow, I will come. Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, Tomorrow, I will come. So the O Antiphons not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.”
Advent is a time to make sure there is room in the inn -> our hearts and souls, for the Lord Jesus.
It is with a heart full of gratitude that I announce the retirement of Mr. Don Garrant as Parish Administrator at St. Clement’s Church. Don has worked tirelessly on behalf of the parish for the past 22 years. He brought us through two very successful capital campaigns. He established an endowment fund of over a million dollars to make our parish more self-sufficient for the next generation of parishioners. He led us through a full parish census. He led the Buildings and Grounds Committee and guided us through significant capital improvement projects from the con-struction of the new entry of the Church, to the addition of a new Baptismal Font and railed stairs to the altar. He added an air conditioning system to the Church. He supervised the extension of, and repaving of, the campus parking lot. He supervised the painting of the interior of the Church, with the addition of new lighting as well as a new audio system, bringing a much richer sound to our services. He led us through the transition of several new Redemptorist pastors. He has faithfully served as a member of the Parish Finance Committee.
All in all, Don has been at the forefront of every important decision made in the parish for the past two decades. Pastors have come and gone, but Don has been the face of the parish. We could never thank him sufficiently for all that he has done for all of us. He has been a model parishioner, attending Mass nearly every day. His kindness and welcoming spirit have permeated our halls for the past 22 years!
And so, on behalf of the parish of St. Clement’s, I wish to thank Don for all his many efforts on our behalf. We wish him all the best in his own transition, and promise to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.
As a direct result of Don’s retirement, I have asked Mr. Randy Rivers to take over the responsibility of Parish Administrator. Randy is presently the Coordinator of Youth Ministry and Confirmation Preparation. He has a good working knowledge of the parish, and is presently a member of the Parish Leadership Team. He also has a good working knowledge of the Diocese of Albany. We wish Randy all the best as he takes up his new responsibilities. His primary challenge will be guiding the parish in our transition from the pastoral leadership of the Redemptorists for the past 100 years, to the pastoral care of the Diocese of Albany. Don has graciously agreed to help Randy in any way he can as he transitions into this new position. Don will remain on staff until the end of December. I’m certain that with our support, Randy will do a fine job. I have no doubt that this process will indeed make us an “Amazing Parish!”
With every best wish,
Fr. Ed Faliskie, C.Ss.R.
We are the Church.
On Friday, November 9th, the Church celebrates the Feast of The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
In the year 313 the Emperor Constantine declared in the Edict of Milan that Christianity would no longer be persecuted. Now, Constantine and his mother lived in a palace in Rome that had been owned by the Laterani family. Constantine turned a wing of that palace over to the Church. This was the first Christian Church in Rome. It was dedicated to Our Lord the Redeemer and to St. John the Baptist. Therefore, it is known as the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
From that time, on to the present, St. John Lateran has been the Cathedral Church of Rome. The popes themselves lived there until they moved to the Vatican Hill in the late middle ages. The Cardinal that administers Rome for the pope continues to do so from St. John Lateran.
The first basilica would have been modest, a simple structure, but then as time went on rebuilding and refurbishing would provide a great, beautiful edifice for worship. Still, from the very beginning the Christians knew that it was the people not the building that made the Church.
St. Paul put it this way to the Corinthians and to us: “You are God’s building. …. Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.”
We are the Church. We are a people of love in a world of hatred.
Sometimes you just want to run to a Church to get away from it all. The Church we run to is not just a building, it is the people.
The people who first walked into St. John Lateran were elated to have their own building, but they knew that they already had their own Church. They had the courage to remain faithful to Christ throughout the persecution of the Romans and the mockery of their world.
We who walk into St. Clement’s every day are elated to have this building, elated to call this God’s house, but we know that we, not the building, are the Church. Like our spiritual ancestors we pray for the courage to remain faithful to Christ.
We are the Church,
All Souls Day, Friday, November 2nd, is when the Church remembers all those who have died.
It is important that we realize that the Doctrine of Purgatory is about the value of prayers for the dead. The prayers of the Church, particularly those of Christ on the cross, cleanse or purge the faithful departed. Purgation refers to being cleansed of the affects of sin. Why, then, would those who have had their sins forgiven, need prayers of purgation? This is because all sin occasions a negative result. For example, a man may commit adultery over a long period of time. Eventually this adultery leads to the breakup of his marriage, the disruption of his children, and grievous pain for all involved. In the latter part of the man’s life, he might return to morality, stop his adulterous lifestyle and receive forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance. The sins may be forgiven, but the negative impact of the sins, the effect the breakup has had on the wife and now adult children, is still there.
All our actions have an effect on the Body of Christ. When we are virtuous, the Body of Christ is nurtured. When we sin, the Body of Christ suffers the effects of our sins. When we pray for the souls of the faithful departed we pray that these souls may be freed from the negative impact of their sins. In simpler terms, we pray that they may be delivered from Purgatory.
Many members of our parish have lost loved ones. These loved ones may have died with a relationship to God (State of Grace) but may still need our prayers to be freed from the effects of their sins. The Month of All Souls is a great time for all of us to pray that our loved ones and all the faithful departed might receive the fullness of God’s love.
Our true faith in Jesus is to trust His promises to us and all our family and friends. This promise is that “Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him”.
So, on the Solemnity of All Souls Day, while we truly miss and mourn our family and friends, we also praise and thank God for his promises of salvation extended to them.
I wish to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Fr. Ed Faliskie, C.Ss.R. I am a Redemptorist priest, ordained in 1991. (Wow! 27 years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun!) I grew up in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania called Archbald, about 12 miles north of Scranton. I have 4 sisters and one brother. Had the coal mines not been shut down in the 1950’s due to a tragic collapse, I probably would be a coal miner today instead of a priest. Such is God’s providence.
I went to Catholic grade school and high school, and was educated by the Jesuits at the University of Scranton. I graduated in 1982 with a degree in Business Management. After working for a few years as a billing manager, I felt pulled toward a religious vocation, and was attracted to the Redemptorists. So, I entered the seminary in 1985. After ordination, I worked in an inner-city Black parish in Baltimore, MD. Then I served for 6 years as Province Vocation Director. After that, I went to the West Indies, where I worked for 6 years in several different parishes on the island of St. Lucia. In 2005 I was elected to Province Leadership, so I returned to the States and lived in our Provincial Residence in Brooklyn, NY for 12 years. After short stints in 2 parishes (Baltimore for 10 months, and Ephrata, Pa. for 2 months), I volunteered to come to St. Clement’s. You see, when I was Vocation Director I was asked to “fill in” at St. Clement’s when Fr. Pierce Kenny got sick. It was during the pastorate of Fr. Jim O’Blaney. I spent about 3 months at St. Clement’s, and came to love the parish and the people here. I am happy to be back.
There are no coincidences in life, just the unfolding plan of God, of which, I am happy to be a part. I’m delighted to be here, and I look forward to journeying with all of you as we travel deeper into God’s unfolding, mysterious plan.
The following is reprinted from the October 2018 Magnificat,
The Feast of St Therese of Lisieux – By Jennifer Hubbard
A gust of wind shook the trees, kissed my cheeks, and left an onslaught of leaves tumbling to the ground. A single leaf, though, in a slow graceful descent, captured my attention. It is a moment that would have stopped my little one in her tracks. It was the same with the tiny crocuses that dare the earth to deny their march across the thawing lawn, or fireflies that flicker during lazy summer nights. I consider it now and realize that my little one sounded the horn and celebrated the fulfillment of doing what one was created to do.
My little one’s wonderment pointed to St Therese of Lisieux, the beautiful “Little Flower of Jesus.” It is this saint’s wisdom and grace that assure me the promises of my heavenly Father are true and real. Beauty, love, and life are found when that purpose is offered for the means for which it was created.
Surely it is true, “If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness” (Therese of Lisieux.) Surely if we live authentically, sharing our gifts as they are intended, then we too offer a moment of wonder and awe, beauty and love. And so, in a moment of awe, I am reminded of who I am and the role I play: beautifully created by the Father, of the Father, for the Father.
Jennifer Hubbard resides in Newtown, Conn. The younger of her two children, Catherine Violet, was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.