Dear Parishioners and Friends of our Parish,
I hope you are doing well and staying strong together! Since returning from Rome this past Tuesday, I have been quite busy attending to various pastoral needs of our parish, including the day-to-day administrative tasks that have accumulated in the last two weeks. It gives me joy to share with you the wonderful memories of my visit to the Eternal City where I have lived and served for more than thirteen years. At the same time, it gives me comfort to know that I was never far away from your thoughts and prayers during my canonical Retreat in Assisi. I am particularly grateful to those who sent me messages of encouragement and well wishes.
Last weekend, as I participated in the Sunday Angelus Prayer led by the Holy Father Francis at St. Peter’s Square on the occasion of World Mission Sunday, I thought of you, the people of our parish, who gave so generously to the support of the missionary efforts of our Church. I want to echo the sentiment of His Holiness in thanking you for your generosity, not only to certain, specific causes, but also to the regular church collections that requires a high level of charitable commitment. As your pastor, I feel inspired and supported in my priestly ministry knowing that you are close by my side as we carry on the mission of Christ together in these challenging times.
Indeed, you and I are never alone in our journey. Monday, November 1, will be All Saints Day. This beautiful Solemnity celebrates the Church Triumphant in heaven with all those Holy Ones who came before us, the famous as well as the unknown. This year, since it falls on a Monday, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation. Nevertheless, it will be celebrated with all due solemnity at our Masses that day. Tuesday, November 2, will be All Souls Day. This annual Commemoration of All Souls is a powerful expression of our Catholic belief in Purgatory. We affirm the Church’s teaching that sin is an offense against God’s love and deserves His just punishments. We also affirm our belief that prayer is a powerful instrument before God, by which we are able to intercede for our deceased brothers and sisters.
As is our custom, we will pray especially for all those who died in our parish this past year. If you had a family member who passed away this year and the funeral was held here, be assured that the person will be automatically on the remembrance list. If the funeral was held elsewhere and you’d like to include him or her in our prayer, please call the Rectory Office. I highly recommend coming to the beautiful Requiem Mass on that day, which will be celebrated solemnly with moving music and powerful, consoling rituals.
November 2nd also begins our All Souls Novena, so now is the time to enroll your deceased loved ones in the Novena of Holy Masses which will begin on November 3rd and continue for 9 days. The enrollment envelopes are available in the Rectory Office and at the doors of our church. This year, these spiritual opportunities will take on a special meaning for me, because my family and I are still mourning the death of my beloved father. When he was alive, my dad always participated in these holy customs with great devotion and love for the souls in Purgatory. He taught me to do the same, with a simple belief that the Holy Souls, once ascended to heaven, will not forget us.
I’d like to conclude this letter with an exhortation for families and individuals to pray the Holy Rosary together, especially during the remainder of this month of the Holy Rosary. As this is also Respect Life Month, I invite you to pray for our elected representatives, legislators and judges, that they may govern with a concern for the common good of all, especially the most vulnerable of our society, the unborn children. As you and I recite Mary’s favorite prayers, let us also pray in thanksgiving for our own Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who will celebrate his 25th Anniversary of Episcopacy and 18th years of ministry in Brooklyn and Queens this weekend. Among the many legacies of our Bishop, he will be most remembered for his untiring defense of human life and solidarity with the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor and the immigrants. We have been blessed under his exemplary leadership, and I, your unworthy pastor, has been blessed by his goodness throughout my twenty years as a priest, for which I remain forever grateful.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham