September 24, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings from Rome, the Eternal City! Though I am physically distant, my spirit remains deeply intertwined with each of you. Your heartwarming reactions upon hearing of my pilgrimage to the Vatican last week truly touched me. From those radiating joy, jestingly expressing envy, to those wishing to be by my side—visiting the beautiful country of Italy is, after all, a dream for many.

However, this journey transcends the allure of this historic city. It’s a profound experience of God’s unmerited grace that brings me back not merely as a visitor but as a pilgrim. After having devoted fourteen years in service to the universal Church here, I find myself retracing the familiar cobbled streets and soaking in the spiritual vibrancy of Rome, filled with gratitude and nostalgia. Those who’ve had the joy of returning to a cherished place can surely understand the depth of my emotions.

Heartfelt reunions with friends, former neighbors, and colleagues, both from Rome and the Vatican, have made my days here even more special. A particularly touching moment was my return to the Dicastery for Legislative Texts. Overlooking the lively St. Peter’s Square, I was reminded of the indescribable joy and gratitude of my time here. As I eagerly await my audience with His Holiness Pope Francis next week, please know that I carry your love and prayers with me each day.

While Rome offers endless engagements, I’ve intentionally carved out moments amidst the bustle of Rome to immerse myself in quiet prayer, especially before the Tombs of the Apostles, and revered Saints and Popes like St. John Paul II. Know that every prayer uttered includes your intentions and those of our parish.

This journey, echoing both nostalgia and God’s grace, resonates with the Scripture Readings for this 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, emphasizing God’s immeasurable and unexpected generosity. Here in Rome, I’m reminded that God’s blessings aren’t rewards but pure grace. It’s a lesson that transcends my experiences here and is relevant to our parish community: God’s benevolence often surprises us.

The wisdom of this Sunday’s Gospel, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Mt 20:16), finds a special place in my heart as I revisit my past and present in Rome. God’s blessings often defy our expectations or worldly standards. I was once a humble servant here, quietly working behind the scenes for our universal Church, and today, I return as a beloved guest, graced with unexpected blessings. This reminds us that God’s love and generosity aren’t based on merit but on His sheer magnanimity.

My dear parish family, I hope my reflections inspire you to recognize God’s astounding grace in your own lives. Remember, in God’s eyes, every individual holds immense value, irrespective of the world’s views. Let’s cherish these moments when God’s love uplifts and reassures us.

Until my next update from this spiritually enriching journey, let’s hold each other close in prayer.

In Christ’s peace,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

September 17, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

As we begin this 24th week of Ordinary Time, the Scripture readings for this Sunday underscore the essence of our Christian journey: forgiveness. They highlight God’s infinite mercy and His directive for us to extend such grace to others.

Why forgive? This was the penetrating question posed by Time Magazine shortly after Pope St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Mehmet Ali Agca in Rome’s Rebibbia Prison, the very man who tried to assassinate him two years earlier. Their private conversation remains cloaked in mystery, but the Pope’s message to the world was clear: “I spoke to a brother whom I have pardoned.”

As a priest, I’ve counseled numerous individuals burdened with the scars of resentment, betrayal, and anger. These past traumas act as shackles, casting shadows over their relationships and interactions. Despite attempts to escape through vacations, work, entertainment, or even spiritual endeavors, they remain imprisoned by these emotions. Their outlook on life turns gloomy, and their spirit wanes. This spiritual malaise isn’t mere allegory. St. Augustine aptly remarked, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.” Louise Hay, in her book “You Can Heal Your Life,” posits that many physical ailments stem from unforgiveness – an observation that resonates with my pastoral experience.

The reluctance to forgive, I believe, stems from not having experienced the depth of being forgiven. I’ve observed that genuine reconciliation with others often follows after one’s own reconciliation with God. Confronting their own flaws, many come to understand that their transgressions can be as grave, if not more so, than the wrongs done to them. This humbling realization paves the way for deeper understanding and compassion. In the Gospel, Jesus’s call to Peter to forgive “seventy times seven times” (Mt 18:21-35) is a profound lesson in the art of letting go. Forgiveness isn’t simply an act of mercy; it’s a path to liberation. It doesn’t aim to condone the offense, but to free the offended. As such, it can be the best gift to give to yourself.

As we start this week, I urge you to embrace Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness as a route to the joy and peace that perhaps you are seeking. Please feel free to share with me your stories of journeying towards transformation by forgiveness.

On the subject of personal journeys, I wish to share an imminent trip of my own. This Tuesday, I’ll be heading to Rome for two weeks, a detail some of you might recall from a previous column. I’m eagerly looking forward to the upcoming Consistory where the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, under whom I previously served, will be elevated to Cardinal. This trip marks a poignant return to the Eternal City, a place where I dedicated fourteen formative years in service to our universal Church. In addition, it provides me the privilege of participating in the Opening Mass of the World Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Convened by the Holy Father Francis, this pivotal assembly represents a profound moment for Church leaders to attune their ears to the Holy Spirit, echoed in the voices of the People of God today. Engaging in this experience will undoubtedly enrich my continued ministry here among you.

Please know I’ll carry you in my prayer, especially before the Tombs of the Apostles and our beloved saints, including St. John Paul II. In return, I kindly ask for your prayers, hoping this trip will bring me rest, reconnection, and spiritual renewal.

Looking forward to rejoining you soon,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

September 10, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather for the Holy Eucharist on this 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, our Scripture readings shine a light on our roles and responsibilities within our faith community.

The Prophet Ezekiel paints a picture of our duty as the “watchmen” of our community (Ez 33:7-9). This role compels us to be more than passive recipients of God’s grace. Instead, we are to actively become stewards of His love, consistently guiding, supporting, and nurturing one another. In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul underscores this sentiment, stating that our only debt to one another should be love, for “love fulfills the law” (Rom 13:8-10).

Today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew deepens our understanding of our communal obligations, highlighting the essence of fraternal correction and the power of communal prayer (Mt 18:15-20). This reinforces the spirit of our Church community, where each day brings an opportunity to watch over one another through acts of love and prayer. In our parish, every individual’s spiritual journey adds to our collective story. We must remember that our individual paths, regardless of how personal they may seem, contribute to the broader tapestry of our ecclesial community.

With this sense of shared journey in mind, I reflect on the closing of the summer season and its transitions. As our younger members head back to school, I hope their hearts are brimming with memories of a rejuvenating summer, characterized by deepening relationships with family, friends, and, most importantly, God. I extend a special blessing to our children and youth who embark on a new chapter in our Religious Education Program and Youth Ministry. These vital endeavors are not just about preparing them for the Sacraments but guiding them towards a life of maturity rooted in Christ. Our Religious Education Coordinator Nelly Gutierrez and our team of dedicated catechists and volunteers, together with our Youth Ministers Dayonel Mejina and Yolanda Lazo, truly embody the spirit of the watchmen, shepherding our youth with unwavering love.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm strikes a chord within our hearts: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:1-2). This sentiment comes to mind when I reflect upon the seminarians closely linked to our parish community, who are now standing at pivotal junctures in their spiritual journey: newly ordained Deacon Randy Nguyen, native son of our parish; John Ngo, Peter Nguyen, and Joseph Tran, who, though not originally from our parish, have been embraced by us and hold a special place in our community. Deacon Randy is now back at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for his last year of priestly formation. John is now assigned to his Pastoral Year at Most Precious Blood Parish in Brooklyn, while Peter and Joseph are undertaking theological studies at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Seton Hall University, New Jersey. The commitment of these young men shows the depth of their faith and underscores the significance of community support. As they move forward in their spiritual paths, it’s vital for us to continually stand by them, because they are not just embarking on this journey for themselves, but for the entire Church community who will benefit from their ministry. Rest assured, we will periodically see them during their breaks, bearing witness to their growth and allowing us to participate in their vocation journey firsthand.

With summer now behind us, I urge each of you to embrace the upcoming season as a fresh opportunity to deepen our bond with the Lord. This is an opportunity for active participation in the life of our parish, to be a part of the “two or three” where Christ promises His presence.

Assuring you of my constant remembrance at the Altar, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

September 3, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we begin the twenty-second week of Ordinary Time, I wish to share with you an uplifting narrative of a devoted mother. Over thirty years, she tenderly nurtured her mentally challenged son. Initially, she viewed him as a challenging chapter in her life—a cross to bear. Yet, with the wisdom of time, she recognized him as an unmeasured blessing. She once reflected, “If given another life, I would cherish another child just like my son.” This poignant tale resonates deeply with this Sunday’s Gospel, emphasizing the transformative power of our crosses.

In the Gospel, as Jesus predicts His suffering and death, Peter instinctively resists, exclaiming, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you!” (Mt 16:21-27), Peter’s reaction, although rooted in love, showcases our human tendency to shun hardship. Jesus’ stern response, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do,” underscores that in the divine perspective, the cross isn’t a burden but a pathway to salvation, and embracing the cross is intrinsic to discipleship. Peter’s response became a teachable moment; it reflected humanity’s tendency to prioritize earthly understanding over divine purpose. Jesus’ rebuke shows that this tendency obstructs God’s grand plan.

St. Paul’s message in the second reading, “Do not conform yourselves to this age” (Rom 12:2), accentuates this. The apostle’s words ring true, especially today, when the values we cherish as followers of Christ often stand in stark contrast to the prevailing culture. Professing our faith and morals may render us susceptible to criticism or ridicule. The intrinsic values our faith teaches — the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and the profound call to love — seem often at odds with current societal narratives, urging many into silent acquiescence. But as believers, we must champion God’s values, even if it may mean enduring the cross.

Serving as your pastor, I’ve navigated my share of trials. My good and sincere intentions—whether fostering unity, advocating for the marginalized, upholding the Church’s doctrines, or trying to make changes for the betterment of the parish—haven’t always been universally understood or embraced. Yet, I’ve learned that spiritual service isn’t about universal agreement but embodying Christ’s truth. Just as the devoted mother above found strength and blessing in her cross, I derive fortitude and serenity from Christ’s query, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26).

To each of you, and especially to our spirited children, youth and young adults who are returning to school this week to begin a fresh academic semester, remember that holding onto your faith and morals amid negative peer pressures may seem daunting. Yet, in the vast ocean of worldly pursuits, the anchor of our faith promises stability and fulfillment. The road less traveled, though narrow and challenging, often bears the most rewarding fruits. The more popular road, though wider and easier, often leads to spiritual emptiness.

As I raise the Chalice at the Altar this weekend, my ardent prayer is for each of you to perceive life’s challenges not merely as burdens, but as pathways to transformative blessings. Remember, in embracing our crosses, we find ourselves intimately aligned with the heart of Christ.

With warm blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

August 27, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather this twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Gospel from Matthew invites us to deeply examine the authenticity of our faith. Jesus’s probing question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and its personal follow-up, “But who do you say that I am?” requires introspection. While we, like Peter, declare, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” it’s crucial to ask: do our actions mirror our proclamation?

Christ’s role in our lives is paramount. If He truly stands as our Savior, guiding us to salvation, then every facet of our lives should mirror this profound truth. It is not sufficient to verbally recognize Him; this realization must infiltrate our ambitions, values, financial decisions, familial ties, and even our entertainment choices.

For many, faith finds its foundation in traditions: regular Sunday Mass attendance, religious rituals, and significant religious observances. While undeniably vital to our spiritual journey, true faith extends beyond these practices, demanding a profound engagement that turns our lives into a testament of Christ’s influence.

Our parish life is a litmus test of this engagement. Are we simply passive observers in our parish, or do we play an active, constructive role? Community involvement is not just about physical presence. It is about fully integrating, utilizing our God-given talents for broader communal benefits. Simply attending Mass or seeking the Church in dire times does not suffice. Genuine recognition of Christ as our Savior mandates vibrant parish participation. Whether it’s engaging in parish groups, partaking frequently in the Sacraments, or offering financial support, every gesture holds weight. These acts not only sustain our Church but also extend Christ’s compassion to those in need.

It is noteworthy how a dedicated group within our parish tirelessly gives of their time, talent, and resources. Their constant presence at the forefront paints a vivid picture of what it means to be a disciple of Christ and stands as an inspiring beacon for all of us. However, for a thriving and dynamic community, we need every member to play their part. While some might think, “What difference can my small act make?”, remember that when many small acts come together, they create a movement.

To those of you actively involved, a heartfelt thank you for being the backbone of our community. To others who have been holding back, consider this letter not just as a reminder but as an invitation to step forward. Your parish needs you, not just as attendees but as active participants. As we move forward, let us ensure that our parish is not just a place we visit but a community we actively shape and nurture.

In essence, our faith journey is communal, woven with the tales and efforts of fellow believers. With every act of engagement, we echo an answer to Jesus’s pivotal question. Let us ensure our actions consistently resonate with Peter’s assertion. Every blessing we have received — time, talents, and treasures — should reinforce our commitment to Christ, not merely in words but in tangible deeds.

As we venture into a new week, let us pledge to act, to participate, and to ensure our parish remains a living testament to our shared faith.

With sincere prayers and blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

August 20, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Warm greetings to you all during these sweltering summer days. I trust that each of you is keeping well and finding solace in close friendship with the Lord.

On this XX Sunday of Ordinary Time, our Scripture readings resonate with themes of universality and God’s boundless love. The prophet Isaiah proclaims a message of inclusivity, suggesting that all, even foreigners, are welcome in God’s kingdom (Is 56:1, 6-7). St. Paul echoes this by emphasizing the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan (Rom 11:13-15, 29-32). In the Gospel, the unwavering faith of the Canaanite woman becomes a beacon, illustrating that God’s love and mercy know no bounds (Mt 15:21-28).

Pope Francis, with his visionary leadership, often calls us to break the barriers that segregate us, to recognize the face of God in every individual. As he often says, “God’s love is unbounded: it has no limits!” In a globalized world that draws humanity ever closer together, this is a call to action for us as Christians, imploring us to show God’s love universally, regardless of worldly divisions.

In recent months, our nation bore witness to the heartrending journeys of countless migrants, seeking hope and shelter upon our shores. Among them were young and old, individuals and families, hailing from various nations, and some even sought refuge within our very parish. Their stories of desperation and hope deeply moved us, echoing the universality of human struggle and resilience.

Yet, just as we begin to grasp the gravity of the migrants’ sufferings, sad news from Maui reaches us. Our hearts weigh heavy with the tragic wildfire there that has led to immense loss and destruction, reminding us of life’s fragility and the interconnectedness of our global family. During such times, the Gospel message of charity and solidarity shines ever more brightly. As the Church prepares to offer aid, let us be at the forefront, extending our hands and hearts in prayerful support to our brothers and sisters in Hawaii. I will keep you informed about how we can help.

Life presents manifold challenges, yet the unwavering faith of individuals like the Canaanite woman in the Gospel story this Sunday inspires resilience and hope. Though she faced obstacles, her trust in the Lord remained steadfast. As we confront the challenges of our time, may we too harness such unwavering faith, knowing that God’s love and power will bring restoration and hope, and that persistent prayer will result in miracles beyond our imagination.

On a personal note, I was recently blessed to address a National Convocation of Permanent Deacons and their wives in Jacksonville, Florida. Their stories unveiled the tangible challenges of suffering, both material and spiritual, faced by many. Yet, it was evident how God’s grace works miracles through such dedicated individuals. Their commitment, even in adversity, reinforced the universality of our mission and the power of perseverance and faith. Their tales of service rekindled my own passion to serve you better and deepened my understanding of the struggles that many in our parish community face daily.

As we reflect on the universality and boundless nature of God’s love, let us embody this love, whether by being more accepting, by lending a helping hand, or by just keeping someone in our prayers. Let us seek the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, to guide and sustain our hearts.

With my personal blessing and prayers,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

August 13, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On this eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Scripture Readings from the Mass extend a profound message of hope, especially in those times when life’s storms threaten to engulf us. Reflecting upon these passages, I see the echoes of my own life and those of many others I’ve had the privilege to accompany as a priest. They resonate with my personal journey through life’s tempests and my witness to God’s unyielding presence.

Growing up amid the Vietnam War’s chaos, facing the traumatic aftermath of those dark days, and the challenges of resettling in the United States as a teenager, I have endured many hardships that tested my faith. The sorrowful death of my father during the pandemic and my mother’s recent critical hospitalization have further marked my difficult path. As a priest, I’m called often to accompany many of you in our community through your own tempests, whether they be poverty, physical or mental illness, emotional or spiritual distress, or other challenges. People with profound needs knock daily on the Church’s doors, seeking solace and hope. I find myself deeply involved in these trials as a shepherd, feeling the weight of elusive and unreachable solutions, all the while striving to provide compassion and empathy, even when feeling burdened myself.

Yet, amid these personal and communal experiences, the reality that only God can truly calm life’s storms shines through. Our faith, tested in these moments of vulnerability, often emerges strengthened. Like Elijah, who heard God’s gentle voice amid chaos (cf. 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a); like Paul, who found consolation in sorrow (cf. Romans 9:1-5), and like Peter, whose faltering faith was met with Christ’s firm grip (cf. Matthew 14:22-33), I too have felt the Lord’s reassuring presence when needed most. Whether in the hospital room with my mother, in the confessional or before the Tabernacle of the Lord, or in quiet prayer with those in pain, Jesus’ calming presence has been a gentle reminder that even when problems seem insurmountable, He is there. Often, His presence is not in dramatic moments, but in silent whispers, an extended hand, a promise of prayer, or a small gesture of support.

I share these stories of my life not to dwell on my personal journey but to illuminate our shared human experience of navigating stormy times. It’s a reminder to lean on Christ, not just in crises but at every moment of our lives. Reflect on your own experiences and recognize where Christ has been present. Recall those instances when you reached out to Him, feeling His steady hand just as despair seemed to take hold. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus’ walking on water is more than symbolic; it’s a divine promise of control over life’s chaos. Peter’s faltering walk on water is a lesson that even when our faith wavers, Jesus’ immediate response to our cries is an assurance of His readiness to guide us to safety, regardless of the storm’s intensity.

So, what is our hope amid life’s storms? It lies in our trust in Jesus, in our attentive listening for his gentle whisper, assured that he is always nearby. Christ is our anchor, and our faith in him, along with the love and support of our Church community, will guide us through any tempest.

I feel a profound sense of gratitude to God that, despite the storms I’ve faced, none has managed to dim my general positive outlook on life or my joyful spirit. Rather, these trials have only strengthened my faith that Christ is on the boat with me, guiding me through the tumultuous waters.

May these words, strengthened by the prayerful support of our Church family, fortify you in the same way they have me. Together, anchored by our faith in the One who stills the waters, we will navigate life’s storms, confident that with Christ, we can weather anything.

United in prayer and love,

                                                                                        Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

August 6, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration this Sunday, I am reminded of the theme of transformation, a concept that resonates with our parish as we make necessary improvements to our church building and parish facilities. These changes, though modest in comparison to Christ’s divine transformation, reflect our strong desire to give glory to God. I wish to share with you updates on these exciting developments within our parish.

Since the beginning of my ministry among you, I have committed to addressing vital projects that were previously delayed. Thanks to your unwavering support, we’ve undertaken renovations and beautifications throughout our sacred and communal spaces. I’m heartened by your appreciation for these efforts.

Last year, together, we tackled the perennial problems of constant flooding and water leaks in both the upper and lower church and surroundings, a potential threat to lasting damage. Through excavation, pipe replacement, drain unclogging, and waterproofing, we not only eradicated these issues but also strengthened and beautified our worship space. This summer, with Bishop Robert Brennan’s approval and the recommendations of the Diocesan Building and Grounds Office, we are addressing the collapsed and broken drainpipes leading to the sewer mainline under the church’s corridor. The temporary closure of the left entrance to the chapel is an unfortunate necessity, but this sacrifice paves the way to a safer and worry-free worship space. We expect that this work will be done within a month from now.

At the same time, we have begun revamping the parish gymnasium’s stage to create an inviting atmosphere for parish celebrations. This includes better lighting, freshly painted walls, and new curtains. We are also considering the installation of a moving gate at the church’s main entrance. This gate will provide enhanced security, ensuring a safe and peaceful environment for all who come to pray in this sacred house.

Along with these exciting developments, I am thrilled to announce the upcoming construction of a glass atrium, a promise we made at the beginning of this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. This project involves placing a glass and steel roof over the unused outdoor corridor sandwiched between the church building and the rectory’s side garden, transforming it into a welcoming meeting space. Equipped with heating and air conditioning, the atrium will comfortably accommodate approximately 40 people with tables and chairs, offering a new venue for prayer groups and our ever-expanding ministries. Care has been taken to ensure this project will complement our church’s external beauty and integrity. In fact, the new atrium will blend seamlessly into the existing structure, becoming a natural extension of the “greenhouse” that currently houses the staircase connecting the upper church’s side vestibule to the lower church.

These physical transformations are not merely aesthetic; they symbolize our communal growth in faith and our commitment to future generations. I believe that our combined efforts mirror the transformation celebrated on this Feast of the Transfiguration, a brighter, more grace-filled future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

Thank you for your dedication to our parish, particularly through your generous contribution to the Annual Catholic Appeal in addition to your weekly offerings. Your goodness allows us to address the growing needs of our community and make our church even more attractive and welcoming. Together, let us embrace these changes with the joy that emanated from the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor, and let us pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria will continue to stand as a beacon of God’s glory for generations to come.

With prayers and blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

July 30, 2023

Dear parish family,

As we find ourselves amidst the height of summer, I pray you are finding respite from the relentless heat. This season often encourages a slower pace as vacations begin and the sweltering temperatures command our need for rest. Some of you might be taking advantage of the warm weather, visiting family, or exploring new places. Others may find contentment in the simplicity of staying at home, cherishing the familiar. No matter where you find yourself, I encourage you to keep our Lord central to your activities.

As we juggle our seasonal routines, filled with trips, tasks, or tending to our homes and families, especially our children and teenagers who are off school, we might inadvertently allow our spiritual commitments to slide into the background. However, let’s remember that even in our busiest moments, when we might forget God, He never forgets us. He is ever aware of our struggles, joys, hopes, and dreams. His love, attention, and understanding extend into each corner of our lives, never losing sight of us, as we are indeed the “apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8; Deuteronomy 32:10). So, as you navigate summer, remember: God is there. In your travels, your celebrations, your challenges – He is there, encouraging us to draw closer.

Pope Francis has described summer as an opportune time to deepen our connection with the Lord. He encourages us, especially the young, to spend this break wisely, through rest, prayer, service, and helping our families. He remarked, “it is in this way that one grows and prepares oneself to take on more demanding tasks” (Message to Youth, June 28, 2022). The slower rhythm of summer can indeed serve as a time of renewal.

Personally, I have a special fondness for the summer season as it paints a vibrant testament to God’s glory. While I’ve chosen not to take a vacation right now in order to be present for our parish and oversee our ongoing projects, I eagerly look forward to a time of recharging at the end of the summer, when I can refocus and spend some valuable time with my mother, my family and friends. I am especially excited about returning to Rome in early October to attend the Holy Father’s Consistory, a significant event of the Universal Church where the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, my former superior at the Apostolic Nunciature, will be elevated to the College of Cardinals to be a close advisor to the Pope. This trip promises a joyous reunion, reestablishing connections with old friends in the Eternal City, where I served the Church for fourteen years.

Despite the typical drop in church attendance during summer, it warms my heart to see many of you maintain a regular presence, reminding us that our faith does not take a vacation. I am edified by the faithfulness and consistency that many of you have shown in your sacrificial giving every week.  The summer months are always a bit challenging for our church as the bills continue to arrive and must be paid. I assure you of my dedication to manage our parish finances judiciously, reflecting the trust you have placed in me, my brother priests and our staff.

On a gentle note, I wish to remind everyone about the importance of appropriate attire during Mass. While the heat of summer might tempt us towards more casual attire, let’s remember that we are in the divine presence of the Lord when we come to church. It is fitting, therefore, to dress with due reverence, respect, and decorum for the liturgy. To this end, please also remember to remove your hats or caps upon entering the sacred space as a sign of respect for the Lord and your fellow parishioners.

To those unable to take a break or vacation due to age, health, work or financial constraints, my prayers are with you. I hope that you can still find peace, joy and relaxation in these summer months, enriched by the good company of loved ones and the creation of cherished memories.

As I entrust each one of you all to the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I wish you a serene and fruitful summer. My fellow priests and I eagerly anticipate your presence in church, resplendent in your Sunday best.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

July 23, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I write to you today, still in the beautiful afterglow of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our beloved Patroness. The sense of spiritual renewal and unity that pervaded the whole celebration was palpable and truly reflects the beauty of our diverse and loving parish community.

Together with Father Michael McHugh, Father Hung Tran and all members of our parish community, I’d like to express our deep gratitude to those who have contributed their time, talent, and resources to make the celebration such a resounding success. The collective effort that went into the catechization of our sixty-seven adults and children, the organizing of the Triduum of Prayers, the stunning decoration of both our beloved church and parish hall, the impeccable planning and execution of the procession, liturgy, and reception, the coordination of various ministries and groups, and the splendid sacred music, was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

To the unsung heroes among us who spent many hours practicing songs and performances, cooking and preparing the marvelous array of international foods and drinks, and to those who rolled up their sleeves to help with the set-up and clean-up before and after the reception, I extend my sincerest thanks. The generosity and devotion you demonstrated truly gave glory to Christ and was undoubtedly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin. Together, you have proved that it is possible for diverse people to work together, to overcome any boundaries that might seem to limit us, and to live up to the illustrious history of our parish, a visible microcosm of the universal church.

Moreover, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the unique privilege and blessings we have received through the presence of Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, the Personal Representative of His Holiness, Pope Francis. His presence, twice in just two years, signified the affection and spiritual closeness of the Pope himself—an occasion of grace that few other places in the United States have had the privilege to receive. Additionally, the participation of Bishop Brennan, our Diocese’s Chief Shepherd, alongside Bishop Ray Chappetto and Bishop Octavio Cisneros, further enriched our joyous event. Their willingness to join us and mingle with our parishioners to the end demonstrated the deep care and love they hold for our community.

It has been heartwarming to hear how many of you were deeply moved by the beauty, reverence, and love accorded to Our Lady. I was particularly impressed by the wonderful display of tantalizing food and drinks, and the spectacular performances of our Spanish Children’s Choir, Mariachi Youth Band, Vietnamese Dance Troup, Hispanic Folkloric Dance Troup and Mexican Chinelos, and the talent of our two Masters of Ceremony. A lot of work has gone into the preparation for that entertainment program, and we are grateful to all who performed.

Of course, the highlight of the celebration was the Rite of Consecration by Bishop Brennan during Mass. Witnessing such a public expression of faith and commitment was a powerful experience. To the newly consecrated members of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I encourage you to continue being faithful disciples of Christ and true children of Mary through your fervent participation in the life of our parish.

As we meditate upon the Parable of the Weeds in this Sunday’s Gospel, we are reminded that despite the presence of evil in the world, the Kingdom of God continues to grow and flourish. So, let us persevere in our faith and commitment, not allowing discouragement to set in, but instead, seeking the grace of the Lord to grow in our faith journey.

Once again, thank you all for the love, commitment, and unity demonstrated during our Feast Day celebration. It is in times like these that I am especially proud and grateful to serve as your priest and pastor. Let us always remember that we are a community united under the mantle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, continuing to give glory to Christ, her Son.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham