Weekly Summer Letter 2

Dear Parishioners,

The psalmist once wrote, “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong” (Ps. 90: 10). It is fair to say that Mrs. Evette Moreland, a longtime parishioner at Our Lady of Victory Church, was a strong woman; strong in character, strong in faith. She passed away this week, days short of her 99th birthday. I first met her when I was a deacon. An elderly woman often assisted by her niece, or sometimes aide Ms. Marie Castel, whenever she would attend Sunday Mass. With a twinkle in her eye and in her Southern drawl, she would regale me with stories of her upbringing, her marriage, but most importantly, her Catholic faith and the love she had for her parish church.

When Mrs. Moreland’s health declined, I would visit her home to administer Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. She was happy the church came to her when she was unable to go.  After receiving the Blessed Sacrament, she would burst into prayer and praise. The last time I saw Mrs. Moreland was on Holy Saturday. A worried Ms. Castel insisted I see her as she was not eating. Upon arriving at the nursing home, a nurse struggled to feed her. As a matter of fact, she was not very responsive. When the nurse told her that a priest was there to see her. Her eyes lit up. For an hour I sat there not only serving her spiritually, but physically, as I fed her some peach sauce. We even spoke and laughed. For me, the moment brought to mind Christ’s words to St. Peter after the washing of the feet, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” (Jn 13: 16-17).

A group of parishioners visited Mrs. Moreland last Sunday. They did so to celebrate her birthday. I am told she was very excited once again to see her church family, but also receive their their love and support. Fitting for the occasion, Mr. Jonathan Sims sang one of the church mother’s favorite hymns, “He Lives.” Despite, physical weakness she sang along, mouthing the greatest truth of Christian faith, the Resurrection. Though our bodies will come to dust and ashes, God, in the fullness of time, will raise us anew to everlasting glory. Until that great day, we pray for Mrs. Moreland imploring God to receive her into His kingdom, where blessed Mary and all the angels and saints are triumphant, and for the peace and consolation of those she leaves behind. Moreover, for us her church family, we ask for the grace to preserve in our faith that, like her, we may be true to Him, so we may hear at journey’s end, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s joy!” (Mt. 25: 23)

Let us pray,
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon her.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

In Christ,

Fr. Daniel O. Kingsley

Weekly Summer Letter 1

Dear Parishioners,

Moral theology was the class I most appreciated in graduate seminary. The professor taught my colleagues and me that our choices mold us. The repeated decision for virtue draws us closer to the heart and mind of God, whereas vice pulls away from His glory. It is only in Christ-like living that one finds not license, but “a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness.” This is authentic freedom.

Freedom is at the heart of the American story. This past Fourth of July marked the 242nd birthday of these United States. Though her founding document asserted that human beings “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” such dignity was not, at the time, afforded to women, slaves, and indigenous people. Moral reckonings were---and still are---required for the ongoing formation of “a more perfect Union.” Without collective self-reflection, the national conscience is jeopardized.

We are, I believe, in the midst of such reckoning. Frankly, who we are is at stake. Can a people remain free when the rule of law is challenged? Or when responsible journalism is called “fake news?” Or when political opponents are demonized? Or when entire peoples and cultures are deemed subhuman. Or recently, when the children of undocumented migrants are separated from their parents?

Ultimately, our choices shape our freedom. Our supreme good, unity with the triune God, is tied to the good of our neighbors. In answer to Cain’s question, we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper (Gn. 4:9). Our national politics has lost sight of this. In freedom’s place we are being offered a ‘me first’ agenda, devoid of care or responsibility towards others. It is a tyranny that will enslave us all, lest we forget the Savior’s admonishment to love one another as He has loved us (Jn 13: 34).

 

1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1731

2 Declaration of Independence

3 Preamble of the Constitution of the United States

 

 

Let us pray,

God of justice, Father of truth who guide creation in wisdom and goodness to fulfillment in Christ your Son, open our hearts to the truth of His Gospel, that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

 

In Christ,

Fr. Daniel O. Kingsley

From the Pastor's Desk

Dear Parishioners,

We have officially moved in to the summer season! Summer has always been for me a time of rest and relaxation. I could remember as a kid growing up vacationing with my family to the South. We would spend one week in Virginia and one week in North Carolina. Summer was a time to kick back and rest. Whether its rest with a book, hobby or friends and family, the Lord wants us to be at rest with him. Although we may be on vacation from work and school, we must never be on vacation from the Lord Jesus! We must always make time for prayer, reflection and our obligation to attend Sunday Mass during these summer months. We must never take a vacation from our life of faith. Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel to not be afraid, just have faith. It’s one of the most powerful words that Jesus speaks in the scriptures. If our faith is strong, there’s nothing that we need to be afraid of. Let us pray that the Lord will continue to bless each of us and most especially protect and keep us safe this summer. Whether we are travelling or staying put, may we continue to rest in the loving embrace of Jesus our Savior and King.

 

Kujenga Youth Leadership Retreat

The kujenga youth leadership retreat will take place Friday July 27-Sunday July 29 at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. The word “kujenga” is Swahili which means leadership. For 25 years this retreat for young people ages 14 to 18 has helped form them to be leaders in their parish communities. It is a weekend of prayer, fraternity, fun and blessings. Any youth who may be interested in going to the kujenga retreat please see our youth minister Tamika or director of Faith Formation Michelle after Mass.

 

Annual Catholic Appeal 2018

I take this opportunity to thank each of you for your support and generosity towards this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. Our goal for the year is $59,519. As I mentioned, if each of us can participate in some way, we will be able to achieve our goal. Anything that we make over the goal comes directly back to the parish. There are extra pledge forms at each of the three churches. Thank you for your support and generosity.

 

Words of Gratitude and Thanks

Just this past week, Father Kingsley and I celebrated our anniversaries of ordination to priesthood. This year Father Kingsley celebrated 3 years of sacred ministry while I celebrated 8 years. We thank all of you for your kind words of congratulations and most especially your prayers. As I mentioned in my homily last weekend, I thank God for the gift of priesthood. My ordination day was truly the happiest day of my life. Both Father Kingsley and I are blessed to be shepherds of this most amazing flock here in Bedford Stuyvesant. In your kindness I ask that you continue to pray for us and for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I also ask that you pray for our seminarian, Jean who is spending these weeks of internship and pastoral ministry with us here at St. Martin dePorres.

 

Have a great week,

Father Alonzo Q. Cox

 

From the Pastor's Desk

Dear Parishioners,

We had such a beautiful celebration last Sunday with Bishop DiMarzio. My heart is filled with gratitude for all of you who have supported this parish community throughout this anniversary year. I cannot begin to thank each of you enough for all that you do in the evangelization efforts here at St. Martin dePorres. I also want to thank all of you who donated food for our reception after Mass last week. We had such a variety and overflow of refreshments! Thank you! As I told Bishop DiMarzio last week, I am blessed to be the shepherd of an amazing and fruitful flock. Last week we welcomed past parishioners, priests of the parish and religious sisters. We also welcomed new people here to the parish.

 

For those of you who were at the Mass, you noticed that the power in the church unexpectedly went out during the distribution of Holy Communion. Some of you thought it was a planned part of the liturgy. I can tell you it was not! The electrician came to the church Monday morning, in which he told me that it was the electrical breaker that was the problem, nothing major or extraordinary, thank goodness. Unfortunately, because we had no power in the church, which the sound system is connected to, I was not able to read the Proclamation from the City of New York which addressed the parish for the anniversary. We received a number of proclamations from the City of New York, New York State Congressional proclamations and an award citation from the Kings County District Attorney. The proclamation, awards and citation will be hung in the vestibule of Our Lady of Victory Church where each of you will have an opportunity to see them.

 

Kujenga Youth Leadership Retreat

The kujenga youth leadership retreat will take place Friday July 27-Sunday July 29 at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. The word “kujenga” is Swahili which means leadership. For 25 years this retreat for young people ages 14 to 18 has helped form them to be leaders in their parish communities. It is a weekend of prayer, fraternity, fun and blessings. Any youth who may be interested in going to the kujenga retreat please see our youth minister Tamika or director of Faith Formation Michelle after Mass.

 

Annual Catholic Appeal 2018

I take this opportunity to thank each of you for your support and generosity towards this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. Over the last few weeks, I have spoken to you in my homily about the importance of the ACA and its support of the various ministries within the Diocese of Brooklyn and our parish here at St. Martin dePorres. Our goal for the year is $59,519. As I mentioned, if each of us can participate in some way, we will be able to achieve our goal. Anything that we make over the goal comes directly back to the parish. There are extra pledge forms at each of the three churches. Thank you for your support and generosity.

 

Today is Father’s Day. On behalf of the entire parish staff we wish all Father’s a very happy and blessed Father’s Day!

 

Have a great week,

Father Alonzo Q. Cox

From the Pastor's desk

Dear Parishioners,

Today we celebrate a great milestone in the life of this parish. We gather here this morning to close out the 150th anniversary of Our Lady of Victory Church. For the past 9 months, we have celebrated with great joy, the rich history of this beautiful church. We have looked back to the foundation left before us by the priests, consecrated religious, seminarians and lay faithful of Our Lady of Victory Church. We thank Almighty God for the generous benefactors who built this magnificent church, who by the way purchased this land in 1868 for only $25,000. I don’t think you could purchase a quarter of land here in Bedford Stuyvesant for that amount of money today! 150 years later, we continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all of God’s people.

 

Over the last year, we have also looked to the future, and what a bright future we have! Although we have seen our neighborhood change over the years, our mission as a community of believers always and forever remains the same! We are a vibrant community, filled with God’s love and mercy. We are a community filled with love for the Lord Jesus and his most Holy Roman Catholic Church. We are blessed to have young families who keep Jesus at the center of their lives. We are immensely blessed to have the pillars of our church, whom we honored at our Gala Dinner last month, as continued support for this parish community. Since our canonical merger in 2007 with Holy Rosary and St. Peter Claver churches, we have become even stronger in the spreading of the faith. Every time I celebrate Sunday Mass at each of our beautiful churches, I am reminded of how blessed I truly am to be the shepherd of an amazing and wonderful flock.

 

Our theme for the Anniversary Year was “Coming Back Home to Our Lady of Victory”. I take this opportunity to welcome all of you back home today! Whether you were a parishioner who moved away from the parish, or an alumni of the grammar school, this church will always be home. In a very special way, we welcome His Excellency, Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn to our celebration this morning. We thank him for celebrating this Mass with and for us today. We also welcome the former priests of the parish who are here with us, most especially the former pastors. I thank them for their fraternal support, guidance and prayers.

 

In a very special way, I thank the anniversary committee, who worked so hard to make the events of this past year and the culmination to this day so beautiful. I thank them for their dedication and support, not just during this anniversary year, but each and every single day. I thank my staff, including Father Daniel Kingsley, who are my collaborators in guiding and shepherding this amazing flock closer to the heart of Christ Jesus. Although this Mass ends our anniversary year, we must continue the work of bringing Christ to all of God’s people here in Bedford Stuyvesant. Through the powerful intercession of St. Martin dePorres, Our Lady Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, St. Peter Claver and Our Lady of Victory, may the Lord continue to bless us now and for ages to come.

 

Have a great week,

Father Alonzo Q. Cox