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Introducing Fr. Phillip Max Johnson
After serving many years as a Lutheran pastor, Fr. Johnson, with his wife Janet, was received into full communion with the Catholic Church in August of 2006. Shortly after that, Phillip was invited by Bishop Galante to become a candidate for the Catholic priesthood. In October of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI signed the rescript, granting the exception to the rule of celibacy and approving the ordination, which took place in May of 2010. Since then Fr. Phillip has served in the University Parish of St. Bridget as the chaplain to Catholic students and faculty at Rowan University.

Parish Registration Form

Parish Vision
St. Thomas More Parish is a gathering place for God’s people and the source of hope and life for families, couples, and individuals living here in Camden County.

Saint Thomas More Religious Education Program is committed to a strong partnership with the parents and guardians of our children. We support one another in the religious education of our children.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 1)

As we work our way leisurely through the Creed of the Church, we will not always take the phrases in order; we'll jump around, partly depending on the Church's liturgical calendar, partly on my own sense of the momentary pastoral need. However, in this first entry, we start with the opening verb of the Creed.

2019-2020 Registration
Download/Print the Registration Form for the Religious Education program 2019-2020

A Married Priest? - Part I
“I didn’t know a married man could be a priest? . . . Do you have children? . . . What do they think about your being a priest? . . . Will you and your wife live in the rectory? . . . What led you to leave the Lutheran ministry and become a Catholic? . . . Did your wife convert too? . . . Are your children now Catholics?” These are but a few of the questions I have been asked in my first few days as your new priest.

Pastoral Staff
Rev. Msgr. Roger McGrath
, Administrator
Click below for Staff Directory

Sunday Bulletin Online

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 2)

I believe in one God, . . . maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. The first words of the Creed reflect the first words of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the very first truth, the foundational truth, that whatever exists does so by the act of God.

A Married Priest?–Part II
Priestly celibacy is not a matter of the Church's unchanging faith. It is, however, a very ancient and holy tradition of the Church, especially cherished in the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope Paul VI stated: celibacy “is not, of course, required by the nature of the priesthood itself. This is clear from the practice of the early church and the traditions of the Eastern rite churches.” In this reflection I want to make clear why this holy tradition ought to command our deepest respect and why I do not join those who call for a whole sale abandoning of it (even if I am deeply grateful for the exception granted in certain cases).

Directions to Our Parish

Parent Information
Religious Education Information for Parents 2018-2019

Parish Directory
Directory and Leadership Contact information for the many organizations and ministries at St. Thomas More

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(No. 3)
We enter the season of Advent – perhaps the most counter-cultural of the liturgical seasons. While the world around us somewhat frantically launches the “Christmas season” earlier and earlier, the Church observes a kind of pre-Christmas lent, a time of prayerful waiting and spiritual preparation. And the first announcement of Advent is not the coming of the Christ Child; it is Christ's final advent. “He will come to judge the living and the dead”.

A Married Priest? – Part III
As I began this series, I promised to answer at least some of the questions I have been asked about my entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church and about my life as a married priest. The long story of my journey to Catholicism will have to wait for a later article. Simpler questions I can answer briefly...

The St. Thomas More Religious Education Program is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Click the link below to view the Religious Education Curriculum at St. Thomas More.

Mass Schedule
Mass Schedule:
Saturday Eve: 4:30 PM
Sunday: 8:30 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM.
Weekdays: 9:00 AM (Monday - Saturday)

Holy Day Mass Schedule:
Holy Day - 6:45 AM, 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM
Holy Days falling on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays will have a slightly different schedule.

Rite of Reconciliation:  Saturday 3:30-4:00 pm
Eucharistic Adoration Every Friday 9:30 AM until Noon

Past Youth Group Events
Recent events of St. Thomas More Youth Group

Photo Gallery

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 4)
The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is about how God prepared the way before hand for the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, preparing a human “vessel” as mother of the redeemer

A Married Priest? – Part IV
In the early summer of 2006, I communicated to my Lutheran Bishop my intentions to resign my pastorate and to enter the Roman Catholic Church. “If I thought I could talk you out of this, I would try,” he said. We prayed together for the unity of the Church. And he asked that I remain at my post for several weeks so that we might have time to gently prepare the people of my parish. On a Sunday in August, Janet and I bade farewell to the people of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Jersey City, where I had served as pastor for 19 years. It was a difficult and moving farewell. In a deeply ecumenical gesture, the parish presented us with a crucifix (now on the wall in my office) that had been brought from Rome several years before by a priest who had attended the Second Vatican Council.

Contact Us

Faith Formation
Grades 1, 2, 3, 4- Tues.  4:30 - 5:45
Grades 5, 6, 7, 8  - Tues.  6:30 - 7:45

Children's Liturgy of the Word
For children age 3 through Grade 1, held every Sunday at the 10 AM Mass 

Inquiries into the Catholic Faith:
Meetings are held from October through Easter for those who want to learn more about their own faith or are interested in becoming Catholic, as part of our RCIA Program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Contact one of the Priests for details. This program is also available for Baptized Catholics who for some reason never instructed in the faith or received the Sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Confirmation.

Parish School:
John Paul II Regional School
Warwick Road and Vassar Avenue
Stratford, NJ  08084

General Policies
General guidelines and policies pertaining to the Religious Education Program

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 5)
We cannot fully explain the Christmas mystery. But we can at least profess it knowingly; we can know what it is the Faith professes, even as our minds are forever startled at what we are professing. Here is a brief, blunt statement of the identity of the babe in the manger.

A Married Priest?–Part V
Why would a late-middle aged Lutheran Pastor give up his vocation and livelihood, estrange himself from many beloved colleagues, and willfully suffer a breach in communion within his own family in order to enter the Roman Catholic Church? What would so compel his conscience? When I began this series I promised that I would finally get around to that question. But it's hard to give a brief account of so long a struggle. After all, my “conversion” took 30 years!

The catechists involved in the Saint Thomas More Religious Education Program are adult members of our faith community.  Many of our catechists are parents of students.  All catechists participate in ongoing catechist training and formation sessions.

Sacrament Information
Click the link below to view information regarding the celebration of Sacraments at St. Thomas More Church.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 6)
The season of Lent draws near. Once again, we are offered the opportunity to intensify our prayer, to enter more deeply into the mystery of prayer – maybe even to receive the life of prayer as if for the first time, as a little child (Mark 10:14-16). “What will I give up for Lent?” the traditional question goes. Remember, the giving up is for the sake of receiving all that God wants to give us. During Lent, these weekly reflections will focus on Christ's gift of prayer to his disciples.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 7)
“Our Father” is not a generic name for God used by all faiths and religions. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who reveals to us his Father in heaven, and brings us into relationship with him. And so, as the Liturgy teaches us, “At the Saviors command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say, “Our Father . . . . That was the gist of my first reflection on the Lord's Prayer (02-17-13).

A Married Priest?–Part VI
Here I will give a brief condensed account of the experiences and the struggles that first led me into the Catholic tradition. Next week, I will explain how it was finally determined that this catholic had to become a Catholic.

Catholic Links

A Married Priest - Part VII
In the previous two articles in this series, I have explained my first “conversion” from a sectarian protestantism to a catholic-minded, sacramental Lutheranism. Here I begin the account of the way these catholic convictions and longings brought me to a crisis of conscience and led me into the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 8)
The past is not to be simply forgotten, but it is, after all, the past. The future may be prudently anticipated, but it remains always uncertain and beyond our control. In the life of faith, it is today that claims our attention. “Today” is a recurring spiritual theme in Holy Scripture. “Oh, that today you would hear the voice of the Lord” (Ps 95:8). “Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Let the day's own troubles be sufficient for the day (Matt 6:34). “Encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “today” (Heb 3:13). So we are taught to pray: Give us today, bread enough for today.

A Married Priest - Part VIII
As a Lutheran pastor, for years I considered myself a Catholic Christian. Roman Catholic liturgists are aware that the liturgies of the Lutheran Book of Worship are Catholic in structure and content. I sought to lead parishioners toward a Catholic piety, including private confession according to Luther's own order. I had opportunities to advocate for a corporate reunion with the Catholic Church (see part VII in this series). This article gives an account of how Catholic hope and optimism among Lutherans proved illusory (at least to me), and how the question of entering the Catholic Church became yet more urgent to me personally.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(No. 9)
What's the difference between a problem and a mystery? A famous Catholic philosopher once explained it this way. A problem is to be solved; a riddle is to be worked out. A mystery – not as in a “whodunit” plot, but in a spiritual sense, is never solved. A mystery is entered into, explored, lived. We can indeed understand something of a mystery; we can understand it more and more as we live in the mystery. But we never fully comprehend it. The mystery keeps showing us ever-new depths and dimensions. We never “get to the bottom of it.” As we “know” the mystery, we know that there is more to know.

A Married Priest - Part IX
My explanations of how I, a married man, was approved by the pope for ordination to the priesthood grew naturally into an account of how and why I came to seek full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It is time to bring the story to a close. I'm grateful to those of you who had the patience to follow the story.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 10)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them: “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side (John 20:19-20).

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 11)
I was fortunate in my seminary professors. I can recall some insight gained, some useful path of reflection laid out, in almost every course I took. But one seminar especially has followed me, or rather guided me, through the whole of my ministry. The course was entitled “Hospitality and Table Fellowship in the Bible”. We read together every text of Scripture in which a hospitality scene played an important role or in which hospitality was employed as a significant image for Christian faith and life.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 12)
It is not unlikely that many Christians may still imagine the resurrection appearances of the risen Jesus as ghost-like, as purely “spiritual”. It may be a shock to our preconceptions to hear the risen Christ ask, “Have you anything to eat” or “Come and have breakfast”. But such is the humility of God our Savior.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 13)
He presented himself alive to the apostles by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. . . . When they had gathered together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “it is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. (Acts 1:3, 6-9)

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 14)
When the life-threatening illness is diagnosed, when one enters hospice care, when a particularly dangerous surgery is required: in such moments we are free to request the final sacraments. Better early than late. In this way, the dying Christian makes of his or her death a witness of faith to loved ones and an act of worship to God, Creator and Redeemer, claiming the grace promised to us in the hour of death.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 15)
Catholic Funerals Part 1: What the Church Teaches About Cremation
Hope in Christ teaches us to speak openly about death, to resist a culture of the denial of death. As death may come unexpectedly, it is important that we all think about funerals beforehand, and that we talk about them with our families. 

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 16)
Catholic Funerals - Part 2 - A Eulogy?
A eulogy (sometimes several of them) is a familiar fixture at funerals. In the minds of many, this is exactly what a funeral is for – to recount the life of the deceased person, remembering especially his or her praiseworthy accomplishments, virtues, and good deeds. In fact, the eulogy is an age old genre of public address. It may seem surprising, then, that the Catholic Church (along with some other ecclesial communions) has a somewhat counter-cultural attitude toward eulogies. 

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 17)
Grief and Joy Dwell Together (Christian Funerals, Part 3)
A Christian funeral is a time for grieving. Christians are not ashamed to weep over the work of death. And it is a time for repenting; Christians are honest about being sinners. But it is especially a time of rejoicing, even in the face of death. This “mood” at a Christian funeral takes us to the center of our Faith.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 18)

Praying Every Day
Many Christians, many Catholics, want to pray more — more often, more regularly, more deeply, more fervently. They sense that there is an “experience of prayer” that they are missing. But when they pray, their heart is dry, their mind is distracted, the will is weak. If this describes you, give thanks to God and pray that he will intensify this sense of failure!

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 19)

Praying Every Day (2) 
Last time (Bulletin 8/24) we wrote about what St. Paul calls unceasing prayer – the thoughts and sighs, the silent cries for help, the “surge of the heart” (St. Therese of Liseiux) that the believer offers to God perpetually throughout the day. For the Christian, to live is to pray. But if we are to grow in faith and deepen our knowledge and love of God, our lives must be ordered also by a discipline of prayer.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 20)

Praying Every Day (3): The Fruits of Prayer
The “results” of our praying, are largely hidden. Nevertheless, we can speak of the promises of God that attend the call to prayer, and we have the long history of God's people who bear witness to the fruits of prayer – now and then made strikingly visible.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 21)

The Lord's Day
In his Meditations on Liturgy, the monk Thomas Merton wrote of the anxiety of the “modern pagan,” the “child of technology,” who “lives not only below the level of grace but below the level of nature—below his own humanity. . . . In such a world, a man's life is no longer even a seasonal cycle. It is a linear flight into nothingness, a flight from reality and from God” (Meditations on Liturgy, p. 31).

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 22)
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (part 1)
The Sacrament of Confession, of Penance, of Forgiveness: the Church calls this sacrament by several names. However, “the Sacrament of Reconciliation” is especially useful in helping us to understand the central mystery that takes place in the confessional. It helps us to understand that the sacrament is about our relationship to God, to others, and to ourselves.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 23)

Who Is The Holy Spirit?
The Creed makes sure that the Holy Spirit we believe in is not simply some divine force or emanation from God but is truly God. In that creed, the Holy Spirit is clearly identified as the Lord, the giver of Life. When God gives the Holy Spirit, God gives God. The Holy Spirit is the name of God when God is given as a gift to indwell the souls of human creatures.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 24)
A virtue is a developed moral habit, a disposition, an internalized power to live well. Among all the virtues, there are seven that are utterly foundational for the Christian life.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 25)

The Peace of Christ: a Brief Meditation on Psalm 23:1-4
The Shepherd's rod is his weapon against the predator. With his staff he guides the sheep safely along the right pathway. The rod is his judgment; the staff is his promise. Which means that his Cross is at once his rod and his staff. So it is that in many artistic representations of his resurrection, Christ comes victorious from the tomb, carrying a cross in his right hand.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion(no. 26)

The Immaculate Conception: Faith's Perfection
The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is about how God prepared the way before hand for the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, making ready a human “vessel” to be the mother of the Son of God. After many generations in which Christians pondered the mystery of Mary's uniqueness, what the Church believed was officially promulgated in the Pope's words above.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 27)
“And the Word Became Flesh”
We cannot fully explain the Christmas mystery. But we can at least profess it knowingly; we can know what it is that the Faith professes, even as our minds are forever startled at what we are professing. Here is a brief, blunt statement of the identity of the baby in the manger.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 28)
Knowing God and Loving God: Part One  
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an expiation of our sins (1 John 4:8-10).<

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 30)

Preparing for Mass 
From the earliest days of the Church, Christians have been urged to approach the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ in a spirit of prayerful preparation. After passing on to the church in Corinth the holy tradition of the Eucharistic words of Jesus, St. Paul warned: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 32)
The Fruit of the Spirit (continued)
Spiritual fruitfulness is a favorite metaphor in Holy Scripture for those dispositions, graces, and perfections that are formed in our lives through the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit in us. The image of fruitfulness helps us to understand that we do not achieve these dispositions. Rather, they sprout up in us as signs of the Spirit's sanctifying presence. But, of course, we are not robots moving about under the bursts of some sort of spiritual electricity. The Spirit of God always engages our freedom, by which we claim as our own God's work in us.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 33)

Pillars of Catholic Penitential Practice: Fasting
Prayer, fasting, almsgiving – these acts of penance come to us directly from Christ himself (Matt. 6:1-8, 16-18). There is no Christian life without repentance, and there is no repentance that is not realized in penitential actions of abstinence, generous giving, and prayer. Jesus teaches us that by these secret disciplines, we enter into intimacy with his Father in Heaven who “sees in secret” (Matt. 6:4, 18). The three pillars stand together—contracting the boundaries of our consumption, expanding the boundaries of our generosity, and enlarging our capacity to pray. I start this three part reflection with fasting.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 34)
Pillars of Catholic Penitential Practice: Prayer 

Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer: I do not know who first called them the “pillars of Lent”, but it is an apt image. These disciplines stand together in supporting the spiritual life—contracting the boundaries of our consumption, expanding the boundaries of our generosity, and enlarging our capacity for intimacy with God. It is Jesus himself who binds them together: “when you fast.... when you pray.... when you give alms...” (see Matt 6:1ff). In Lent, we consider these disciplines in their penitential nature. Last week we reflected on fasting; here we consider prayer.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 35)
Pillars of Catholic Penitential Practice: Money Offerings 

Fasting and Prayer (the subject of my last two reflections) have deep spiritual implications for our lives, for our relationship to God and to God's Church. Most of us do not question that both are foundational for the life of faith (even if many of us give neither its due). But what about the third “pillar” of Lent? What about almsgiving? We know that the Church and other “charitable organizations” depend on fund raising. We are aware that our giving to worthy causes is a good thing to do. But is “charitable giving” truly a spiritual matter?

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 36)

“Were You There When . . . ?”
There is a simple (but theologically perfect) African-American spiritual that asks the question: Were you there when they crucified my Lord . . . were you there when they laid him in tomb . . . . Were you there when he rose to live again? Our faith answers “yes” especially during Holy Week. In this most solemn time, we are called to greet Jesus as King, to watch and wait with him in the garden, to accompany him in his time of trial, to meditate upon the dark mystery of his self-offering on the Cross—and finally to proclaim his victory over death in his resurrection. The liturgies are long; you can see why. Let's try not to complain; it was a very long week for Jesus.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 37)
All four Gospels record the agony of Jesus in the Garden. It is one of the gospel scenes that almost all Christians remember. The spiritual suffering of Jesus, the dilemma and dismay of Peter, James and John—the pathos of the scene is palpable. But perhaps the scene remains with us also for another reason, because we find ourselves in the scene; we share Peter's dilemma and dismay. The words are addressed to us: “Could you not watch with me for one hour?”

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 38)
Sainted Popes
Next Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter (now known also as Divine Mercy Sunday), the Catholic Church around the world will celebrate the canonization of two remarkable Twentieth Century popes. Canonization is the formal and public recognition by the Church of the heroic sanctity of one of her deceased members. Those whose names are entered in the canon of the saints are venerated by the faithful as shining examples of the Christian life, as living signs of the wonderful diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and as powerful intercessors for the Church on earth.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 39)

Dignity and Destiny (part one)
It’s sometime said of a man (and not as a compliment), “He thinks too much of himself; he could do with a dose of humility.” But consider the words above from St. John and St. Paul. From their perspective, the man’s real problem is that he thinks too little of himself.  In fact, humility in the Christian sense does not derive from a lesser sense of self but from an almost unthinkably high self-regard. Perhaps you have sometimes chastised yourself: “I want too much in life. I need to reign in my expectations.” But from the perspective of the Christian gospel, almost all of us want far too little out of life.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 40)
Dignity and Destiny (part two)
The uniqueness of the human person, our unique human dignity, is declared on the first page of Holy Scripture.  The human creature, male and female, is created in the image of God, after the likeness of God (Cf. Gen. 1:26-27).  The God-likeness can be described from several perspectives:  rationality, dominance over the non-human creation, creativity, the capacity for self-giving love, the gift of articulate speech, etc.  But all such human qualities tend toward this astounding claim—that the human being is created for communion with the eternal God.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 41)
The Ascension of Our Lord
It is a great blessing that Christian art has preserved this striking memory in depicting the Ascension—that Jesus ascends with the marks of the nails and the spear and the thorns.  He is ever the Ascended Crucified one.  His resurrection and ascension are indeed his victory over the cross, but he does not leave the cross behind. 

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 42)
Dignity and Destiny
(Part Three: The Moral Life)
Sometimes you hear it said that opposition to abortion is a particularly Catholic concern, or that life-long fidelity in marriage is a distinctively Christian rule. (I choose these issues as they are now so contentious.) As the study of non-Catholic religions and cultures demonstrates, it is not true. In an essay entitled “The Tao” (the Chinese word for “the Way”). C. S. Lewis reminds us of the common and foundational moral vision “in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike”.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 43)
Ordinary Time
If there is a theme that holds together the Sundays and weekdays of Ordinary time, it would be living out the Christian life, responding to the Grace poured out upon the baptized, practicing the Christian faith. In this time the readings of Scripture and the prayers of the Mass urge us to follow Christ, to fight the spiritual battle against our sins, to pray ceaselessly, to give generously, to love sacrificially.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 46)
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
Illness and suffering have always been among the greatest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 47)
Transfiguration:  Miraculous Beauty
The miracles recorded in the gospels are not divine displays of brute power. They do not simply prove, they also reveal.  There is a kind of appropriateness about them, a kind of artistry.  We rightly speak of them as “supernatural” occurrences, but the miracles do not lose touch with the natural world.  They transfigure it.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 48)
The Holy Oils
In Hebrew the word is Messiah; in Greek it is Christos. Translated into English, both words mean "the Anointed One". At the beginning of his public ministry, in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus read publicly the words of the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings . . .". Then, as the Gospel of Luke tells us, while "the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him, he said to them, 'Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing"' (see Luke 4:16-21).

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 49)
Fasting at the Feast?
Why would the great saint and doctor of the Church be concerned that the reception of Holy Communion could possibly be “an offense” before God, rather than a “saving plea for forgiveness”? Is not Holy Communion always God's gift of mercy—always the crucified and risen Body and Blood of Christ? Yes, certainly, the Sacrament is always Christ's bodily presence and gift. But in our reception of the gift, there are two possibilities (and only two): saving grace or judgment.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 50)
“We Dare to Say.  Our Father...”
“The Lord's Prayer is truly the most perfect of prayers” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2773, 2774).  As Christ is the perfection of humanity, so the Our Father is the perfection of prayer.

The Catholic Faith In Slow Motion (No.51)
Much gets lost in a world that is filled with noise and endless chatter. Along with the inevitable noise of autos and industry and commerce, we have a host of increasingly sophisticated devices with which to ban silence. The devices are “on” day and night in more and more places—at home, at school, at work, in waiting rooms, hospital rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, malls and lobbies, parks and playgrounds. Much information is distributed by the chatter. Our favorite music helps us through the boring times. Keeping the chatter going among friends saves us from loneliness, and at least some of the movies and t.v. shows are truly entertaining.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 52)

The Sanctification of Time
As the Church marks the passing of time, certain days and seasons are especially infused with meaning. All time, of course, can be made holy, as it is received as a gift from the Creator. But some days and seasons have been so filled up with God’s saving work that they are dense with holiness. Sunday, for example—the day in which time itself was redeemed by being filled with the presence of the risen Jesus

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 53)
The Family Within the Christmas Mystery and The World Meeting of Families
In the coming months a remarkable opportunity is ours for the spiritual renewal of families. September 22-27, 2015, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will welcome families from across America and around the world to the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which will include a papal visit. Since 1994, the World Meeting has convened every three years. At the 2012 gathering in Milan one million people attended the concluding papal mass. For details about how you can participate in this week of catechesis, celebration, and prayer (with venues for all ages), go online to  or the Facebook site, worldMeeting2015.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 55)

The Communion of the Holy Spirit
The Nicene Creed makes sure that the Holy Spirit we believe in is not simply some divine influence or emanation from God but is truly God. In that creed, the Holy Spirit is clearly identified as the Lord, the giver of Life. When God gives the Holy Spirit, God gives God. The Holy Spirit is the name of God when God is given as a gift to human creatures.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 57)

From One Sinner to Another: How To Confess Your Sins
First, it is important to know that confessing one's sins in personal prayer before God is a daily form of penance for all Christians. Every mass begins with a penitential rite. The Catechism teaches us that prayer, giving alms, acts of love toward those in need, fasting, spending time reading Holy Scripture—all these may be offered as acts of penance. It is the confession of sins to a priest in the simple liturgy of confession and forgiveness that is the sacramental form of penance, often called the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 58)

“Were You There . . . ?
Those who read the Gospels carefully notice something striking about the narrative strategy of the  authors. About one-third of the way through, Jesus is already entering what the Church calls Holy Week. St. Mark, for example, gives us almost the whole of Jesus' public ministry in a few pages, while the final week takes up about two-thirds of his Gospel. We find the same strategy in Matthew, Luke, and John.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 59)

The Resurrection: Not a Problem, Not a Riddle, But a Mystery 
What's the difference between a problem and a mystery? A famous Catholic philosopher once explained it this way. A problem is to be solved; a riddle is to be worked out. A mystery – not as in a “whodunit” plot, but in a spiritual sense—is never solved. A mystery is entered into, explored, meditated upon, lived.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 60)
The Diaconate
As we pray every day for an increase in vocations to the holy ministry and the consecrated religious life, we should not forget to give joyful thanks for those who are answering the call. By the time you read this article, Bob Scarpa—so well known and well loved in our parish—will have been ordained to the diaconate by our Bishop (May 1). It's a good time to reflect upon the nature and dignity of the diaconate.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 61)
 The Ascension of Our Lord 
This coming Thursday the Church will celebrate the Ascension of Christ (see the liturgy schedule in this bulletin). St Luke, in the opening chapter of his Acts of the Apostles, writes this account...

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 62)
God's Right Hand
In the Bible, the “right hand of God” is an image of that heavenly place from which God's eternal power and authority are exercised over all creation. Where is the right hand of God to be seen at work in history?

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 63)
The Event of Forgiveness
I believe…in the forgiveness of sins (Apostles' Creed). To believe in the forgiveness of sins is to believe in a particular event. The event is described briefly earlier in the Creed, in the second part, which speaks about the coming of Jesus, and especially about his suffering, death, and resurrection. This is important to remember—that “forgiveness of sins” is not simply an idea; it is not simply a declaration that God is merciful. Forgiveness is a happening.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 64)
Death The Enemy, Death the Friend
My father, Max L. Johnson, died last month in Cookville Tennessee, on May 26. In the days immediately before his death and after his funeral, although I was some eight hundred miles southwest of Cherry Hill, I was vividly aware that the people of my parish were nearby me and my family in prayer, sharing in our grief, and joyful with us in the Hope of Life Eternal. When Janet and I returned, your expressions of sympathy were visible in the large stack of mass intention cards on the rectory living room table. During my ten days away on retreat the stack swelled and continues to swell. Our personal acknowledgements of such kindness are finally on the way. But we want to express publicly our deep gratitude for all your words and gestures of Christian charity that have comforted and strengthened us.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 65)
Praying Every Day: The Habit of Love
Many Christians, many Catholics, want to pray more—more often, more regularly, more fervently. They sense that there is an experience of prayer that they are missing. But when they pray, the heart is dry, the mind is distracted, the will is weak. If this describes you, give thanks to God and pray that he will intensify this sense of failure! This place of defeat and disappointment is a blessed starting point. 

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 66)
Praying Every Day:

Help From the Church's Treasury of Prayer
In my last reflection we recalled St. Paul's words about prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). And I suggested that that, for most of us, a constant habit of prayer begins with a regular discipline of “saying our prayers”. This involves saying a chosen set of prayers that have been commended to us by the Christian devotional tradition.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 67)
Catholic Funerals:  What the Church Teaches About Cremation
Hope in Christ teaches us to speak openly about death, to resist a culture of the denial of death. As death may come unexpectedly, it is important that families think and talk about funerals beforehand. Even when death occurs after a long illness, it comes as a shock. Grieving families should not have to make  important decisions in a hurry.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 68)
The Papal Encyclicals on Social Justice
The recent encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si' (“On Care For our Common Home”) has generated much discussion and argument, and not only among Catholics. It addresses the controversial issue of “global warming”.  I have started a list below of the eight preceding social encyclicals (four here, four more next week). My summaries will be inadequate, but they may at least demonstrate a remarkable continuity of moral vision. 

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 69)

Who Is The Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified. I believe in the Holy Spirit. With this profession, the Trinitarian “shape” of our faith is complete. Each of the three parts of the creed confesses faith in God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—the One God who is a fellowship, a communion of three “persons” or identities.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 70)
The Social Encyclicals of St. John Paul II (part one)
An Encyclical (lit. circular letter) is a formal pastoral letter written by the pope, addressed to the universal Church, and some times to “all persons of Good will”. The term “social encyclical” indicates those letters that address universal matters of political, social, or economic justice. In the long line of papal  encyclicals, only ten fit this description.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 71)
The Immaculate Conception:  Faith's Perfection 

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin ( Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus,).

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 72)
The Jubilee Year of Mercy
Having begun on December 8 (Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception) this “Holy Year of Mercy” will conclude on Sunday, 20 November 2016 (the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe). Pope Francis announced the Jubilee Year last March 13, during the season of Lent. The following words are taken from that announcement.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 73)
God in the Womb
As we bid farewell to the Christmas Season, we carry with us the Christmas ethic. Christian morality flows directly from Christian faith. And if we lose the interconnections that unite faith and morals, we have lost the Catholic moral vision. This concern comes to mind especially now as we anticipate the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and the ethical confusions and contradictions that flow from it.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no, 74)
Our Father
The first words of the Lord’s prayer are no longer a shock. Millions assume that “our Father” is a universal and generic way of speaking to God, perhaps an obvious synonym for “God”. So, in receiving this prayer from our Lord, the first thing we need to know is its specific origin in the Christian revelation.

The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 75)
The Corporal Works of Mercy: Burying the Dead
Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead: these are the seven corporal works of mercy. The first six of these require little explanation. Almost all who honor religion will honor these works of mercy, even if many seldom practice them. By utter necessity, the seventh corporal work of mercy, the burial of the dead, is not, strictly speaking, neglected. But I am not sure its quality of mercy is well understood.

This Thursday we begin the Paschal Triduum, the most sacred celebrations of our Liturgical year culminating in the Joy of our Easter celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. Of course, ideally, we would gather in church to observe these rites. However, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we stay apart, staying home to mitigate it’s spread and to keep everyone safe and healthy. Let me share some suggestions on how you may observe these days at home.

April 5, 2020 - Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
“He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

This Palm Sunday we will not be able to gather to celebrate it together. So, I encourage you to celebrate it ritually at home. Even if you are living alone, you can mark Palm Sunday like this:

Begin at the front door of your home and, standing, read the gospel story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. This year that Gospel is Matthew 21:1-11.

The last words of the Gospel of Matthew embody the final words of Jesus to his disciples. “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” These words, spoken just before his Ascension to the right hand of the Father, reassured his disciples and reassure us that, although we cannot see or touch him, he is with us and we are connected. We are not alone. You are not alone.

Usually around this time, we are remarking about how quickly (or slowly) Lent is passing by. “It will be Holy Week before we know it!” But this year is different. The demands of public health and of our love for our neighbor bid us NOT to gather for Sunday Mass. Rather, we will remain separated in order to stay healthy and to keep others from getting sick. This is our Lent of counter-intuitive fasting, staying home rather than going to Mass, which we do out of love for one another. What, then, are we to do? May I make two humble suggestions?

With our governor’s directive to stay home, we are entering a kind of time unlike anything we have experienced before. Be sure to take good care of yourself and your loved ones during the duration of this coronavirus pandemic. Good handwashing, maintaining social distance and care for your own physical and spiritual health are paramount. Please remember to eat nutritiously, exercise, get your rest and pray regularly. It would be wise to establish a daily pattern of activity to do this.

This morning Governor Philip Murphy issued an executive order further restricting residents of New Jersey.

In compliance with this directive that people are not to leave home except for essential business, our church and parish office are closed until further notice.

June 1, 2014

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50th Anniversary Photo Gallery

5K Run-1K Walk Thank You

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home backup

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Knights of Columbus #6173


Magnificat - Philadelphia Archdiocesan Children's Choir

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March 31, 2013 - Easter Sunday

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Parish Festival 2018

Parish Giving

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Winter 2008