Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend, I want to doff my hat in salutation to all our parishioners who are doing great apostolic works of love and mercy. To say that these are difficult times is definitely an understatement. However, a majority of parishioners are not daunted; instead, they are reaching out to their neighbors, friends, other parishioners, and even strangers, to ease the burden of the times, by helping in every way possible.
Reports from the Director of the Parish Social Ministry shows the massive support that parishioners are giving to the poor and needy in generous donations. Several bags of food, clothing, toiletries, gift cards, and other household supplies are brought in every day. The giving spirit is not only focused on the Parish Social Ministry, but to the Parish in general. Many of you have given extra donations to the Church, since our weekly collections have fallen far below their normal average over the last few months.
Then there is this new phenomenon of “Drive-By Blessings.”
On Easter Monday, the parish clergy, together with a few Eucharistic Adorers went on a Eucharistic Procession in a Drive-By Blessings through some streets of Wantagh. Fr. Stan carried the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance, graciously chauffeured by Deacon Bob O’Donovan, followed by nine cars of parish ministers and devotees. The convoy of vehicles stopped at the houses of some parishioners to impart the blessings of the Risen Lord. I was at the rear, wishing parishioners a “Happy Easter.”
It is worth mentioning that a miracle happened that day, attested to by all who went on the procession. During a short adoration that was held in the church prior to the procession, the weather was nothing to be admired, to say the least. It was rainy and very windy. It was so bad that we almost called off the procession. However, the winds subsided a little bit, just around 1:00 P.M. giving us the courage to step out. To the amazement of all, as soon as we came out of the church with the Blessed Sacrament and entered our cars, both rain and wind stopped completely, and for the next two hours, there was neither rain or wind! I said to myself, while driving at the back of the procession: “The Lord has done it again; he has withheld the storm to allow his sons and daughters to process in good weather, himself – present in the Blessed Sacrament – riding with his people.” Guess what? I wasn’t the only one who made that silent observation. Deacon Bob, Mr. Paul LaTrace, and some other participants made similar remarks when we re-converged at the sacristy.
Three other “Drive-By” processions took place afterwards. On Sunday, May 17th, at 1:30 P.M., many parishioners drove twice around the block, stopping by a home at 1270 Tulip Lane, to congratulate our Chief Sacristan, Brendan VonRunnen, for graduating successfully from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Homeland Security. That same day, at 4:15 P.M., another “Drive-By” took place, also twice passing in front of 3022 Beltagh Avenue, to greet and applaud Gina Barbara and the health care workers at her place. Contingents from the Police and Fire Departments, as well as friends of Gina Barbara took part. After the second round, Fathers Al, Stan and myself, stopped and prayed with Gina, her father, Michael, and all the healthcare workers. We blessed them and departed. Finally, on Monday May 18, a surprise drive-by was organized to celebrate Sister Patricia Doran’s 80th Birthday Anniversary. It was a real surprise! Her niece, Patty, invited her to come out of the convent to enjoy the sunny weather on her special day. Then, a few minutes later, the three priests showed up each bearing a bouquet of flowers and singing “Happy Birthday to you, Sister Pat.” A couple of minutes before the vehicles came up, she was positioned adjacent to the Msgr. Smulski Room, and her friends along with extended family came driving-by to wishing her “Happy Birthday.” Her adorable grand-nieces and nephews brought cupcakes and home-made giant cards with decorated signs of good wishes. Patty and Hilde were the organizers.
There’s something unique about these “Drive-By” processions – they acknowledged the good, the love and the devotion of the people for whom they were organized. Unlike some “drive-bys” in which people commit crimes, such as “drive-by shootings,” where lives are maimed or destroyed, these new ones have life-giving purposes – to bless, to congratulate and wish the recipients the best of life ahead. This is the spirit of a warm and loving community. It is also the spirit of Easter – of new life and hope. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily shut us in our houses, we are not locked-in without hope. Our homes are bubbling with life and our hearts are throbbing with joyful hope.
Happy Easter to you all!