Weekly Ministry Spotlight Archives

Lectors

Ministry Profile:
Lectors
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

In the early weeks of the pandemic, the Masses that were broadcast into our homes were made possible by Saint Peter’s essential works. On screen were a priest, the Director of the Music Ministry Jim Gregory and a lector. Three courageous souls risked so much in those early days to bring the celebration of the Gospel to the Parish.

“It was very moving because we still had to deliver a Mass to our parishioners and our faith community,” remembers Lector Ministry Leader Barbara Gallagher. “It was just the three of us, but we did it. We kept the parish together.”

From March to June, the lector was either Barbara Gallagher or Fred Diedrich. As Masses opened up some, 20 of the 41 Parish Lectors have returned. Though many Lectors were understandably concerned about the health risk, they still signed up to share at each Mass. Says Gallagher, “Everybody was afraid, but I can definitely say they put their love for the parish above their fear.”

The Lectors are an incredibly dedicated group. The length of service for the Lectors currently ranges between 11 and 30 years. Gallagher has served for 31 years. Lectors are present and artfully sharing readings at every Mass. In addition, they lector at Communions, Confirmations, and First Reconciliations. For Lent, lectors recorded daily Little Black Book readings that were a hit with Parishioners because they connected people in a personal way.

“The Lectors are there all the time. And you can count on them,” Gallagher states proudly and gratefully. “They are a blessing to our parish.”

If you would like to become a Lector, you can sign-up here.

Harrison House

Ministry Profile:
Harrison House
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

For nearly 30 years, the Robert A. Harrison House in Paramus has been a safe resource for people living with a deadly virus—HIV/AIDS. The Saint Peter’s Harrison House Ministry worried that the threat of another deadly virus, COVID-19, might keep them from meeting their monthly commitment as one of many churches that provide a healthy evening meal to residents. Thanks to the brave and selfless efforts of its members, the Harrison House Ministry not only continued to supply it’s promised month dinners, but also eleven additional meals which helped fill some of the unsupported nights.

Ministry Coordinator Al Ruhlmann acknowledges that this has been accomplished by the efforts of many devoted parishioners. “People stepped up I was very grateful for that,” said Ruhlmann. A small group of loyal cooks has continued to answer the request for help by providing meals. Seven members participated by providing additional dinners; some providing multiple dinners. All worked safely by observing the clear COVID instructions provided by the Harrison House’s resident manager.

In May, ministry member Rose Flanagan requested that then Deacon Nick Sertich provide spiritual support to the Harrison House residents. Deacon Sertich hosted a safe prayer service which was enthusiastically received. After the service, residents requested holy oil to bless the house.

During the Christmas season, Harrison House forwarded a “wish list” from the residents. Parishioner Margie Doyle coordinated the ministry’s efforts soliciting $650.00 in cash and gift cards. Doyle used those funds to provide a small personal gift and a gift card to each resident with the balance given to the house in the form of gifts card and household supplies.

Ruhlmann reflected, “So even though the pandemic was a stumbling block, the spirit of Saint Peter’s charity was able to overcome the pandemic and shine through.” If you’d like to volunteer, the ministry would love to provide additional regular meals for the residents. Volunteer cooks can contact Al Ruhlmann at 201-967-9362.

 

Singles Support Group

Ministry Profile:
Singles Support Group
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

The past year has been an isolating time for everyone—a reality that has encouraged the Saint Peter’s Singles Support Group to be an ever-present resource for our Parish. When our community went into quarantine last spring, ministry leaders Colleen Haerle, Kathy Marshall, and Barbara Maier made a commitment to keep the Singles Support Group’s 145 current members connected. The three leaders divided up the lists of contacts and began making regular calls to every single member.

As the reality of the quarantine settled in, the Singles Support Group knew they needed to do more. “It has been a challenging year for everyone,” Colleen Hearle reflected. “Support comes in many forms for the members.” The group has begun hosting Zoom meetings once or twice a month. Haerle shared, “It’s been a great way to stay connected and seeing people’s faces.” The leaders have maintained additional regular contact including emails, cards, and birthday calls. The Singles Support Group produces a monthly newsletter sharing individual stories and news of the positive things happening in members’ lives. When the weather was warmer, groups met for walks at Van Saun Park and socially distant lunches at Memorial Park in River Edge. They hope to return to these events in the spring.

As the group continues to connect during the long winter, the Saint Peter’s Singles Support Group is looking past the quarantine to better days. This September will be the ministry’s 30th anniversary. Haerle said, “We are hoping to celebrate together in person.” For more information, visit www.StPeterSupport.com

Faith Formation

Ministry Profile:
Faith Formation
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

As massive staffs work to keep school districts functioning across the state, Eileen Hanrahan and the Faith Formation staff are single handedly rethinking every aspect of their program in order to continue the religious education of the children of our parish. Even though no students are able to enter the building, the Saint Peter’s Faith Formation program still reaches 500 students from 350 families.

The entire program—from registration to celebrating first sacraments—had to be approached from a new perspective. The program is built around 30 to 35 hours of instruction—including family GIFT (Generations In Faith Together) gatherings and corporal acts of mercy. Looking at the thoughtfulness and ambition of the curriculum, Hanrahan knew that, “just doing the chapters was not going to do it.” Hanrahan welcomed four volunteer catechists at each grade level to work together as a team developing lessons and sharing resources. “Everyone came together and we said, this is how are we going to do this.”

At the end of the year Maryann Zoppi retired after 24 years as an invaluable Administrative Assistant in the Faith Formation Office. However, Faith Formation gained a new asset this fall when Katie Mascari, a masters theology student in Notre Dame’s Echo Graduate Service Program, joined the staff. Working without a tech team or IT specialist, Mascari and Hanrahan developed a new online curriculum and platform. In addition to virtual lessons, families attend or stream mass and reflect on questions in a Google Form. Hanrahan stated, “I wanted to make sure families were still connected every Sunday to Saint Peter’s.”

Father Mike and Hanrahan even found a way to safely celebrate the sacraments that had been prohibited in the spring. Though attendance was restricted for the fall First Communions and Confirmations, families found the smaller celebrations to be especially meaningful. “The students had a real desire to receive the sacraments,” said Hanrahan, “It was so Holy Spirit filled.”

Hanrahan is deeply sympathetic to the challenges faced in every home at any time—but especially during this past year. “In this COVID world, you have to feel for the families. I don’t want to have this year to be wasted.” Hanrahan recognizes and honors the added work placed on families. “The first catechist of your child is the parent. I have to meet them wherever they are.”

A year later, this spring’s sacraments and the summer programs are just as uncertain. But The Faith Formation staff is grateful and ready. “We have so much to do,” Said Hanrahan. “Tomorrow I’m going to wake up, say my prayers, and put one foot in front of the other.”

Rosary Society

Ministry Profile:
Rosary Society
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

No matter how difficult and distant our lives have been during the pandemic, members of Saint Peter’s Rosary Society have continued to come together in prayer. In fact, it is their belief in prayer that transcends the isolation and the uncertainty of these challenging days.

The society, under the leadership of Andrea Schick and Patti Seco, meets every Monday evening through Zoom to continue to pray the Rosary together. They have made every effort to help all of the members of the ministry to manage the technology and to join in prayer. The group, which averages twenty participants each week, has included former Saint Peter’s parishioners who have moved to other states.

Praying together virtually has all sorts of technical complications but member Jeannette Trinkleback has found a practical way to facilitate the meetings. Members logon early to have open conversations—connecting and sharing with one another. At 7:30, the members share their individual intentions for the prayers. Then, Trinkleback asks for volunteers to lead a decade. She moderates the Zoom chat, unmuting the decade leader and muting the others so that all might pray together even though they are all in distant homes.

The original plan was to meet once a month, but the time praying together has proven so valuable that the Society now meets every week. Even on the darkest days, the Rosary Society has drawn strength and hope from their collective prayer. “I have a strong belief in the power of prayer,” said Trinkleback. “Through the power of prayer, we are able to endure during the pandemic and whatever life throws at us.”

If you would like to join the Rosary Society, contact Andrea Schick at schickfam@yahoo.com for details.

Music Ministry

Ministry Profile:
Music Ministry
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

On the afternoon of March 15, 2020, the first Sunday that Saint Peter’s was unable to celebrate Mass due to the quarantine, Director of the Music Ministry Jim Gregory cantor Vincent McHale quickly recorded some psalms and some music for Lent and Holy Week. As we enter Lent a year later, the music ministry has persevered and stayed necessarily present during our worship in these trying times.

For those early weeks, Gregory and McHale worked virtually creating videos that could be inserted into the Mass live stream. As the reality of the pandemic set in, Gregory decided to explore other possibilities. Gregory reached out to members of the adult choir to see if they were willing to participate in a virtual choir. Their responses were inspiring. “They felt this need,” shared Gregory. “They love to sing. They love ministering.”

Choir members learned their parts individually at home and recorded tracks on their phones. Gregory then sound mixed and assembled all of the individual performances into a full choral recording. To accomplish all of this, Gregory learned new skills and software. But the technology wasn’t the lesson he has taken from this challenge. Said Gregory, “This has taught me so much about how much love people have for singing and for our Parish.”

The music ministry is doing everything it can to share that love. Gregory and McHale are back performing live at masses. They are joined by percussionist Dan O’Keefe, a volunteer who has been playing at St. Peter’s since he was a teenager. The musicians make sure to take all precautions such as keeping windows open, staying appropriately distant, and remaining masked. Lyrics are often included in the live streams and PDFs of sheet music are posted on the Saint Peter’s webpage.

With the support of Father Mike, Gregory wanted to once again bring something special to the Christmas masses. A dozen choir members performed in person, sitting distant in the first four pews. And three singers performed from the balcony. Gregory was especially moved by the children’s choir. Almost the entire children’s choir as well as some alumni worked together to create a virtual choir video presentation of their annual Christmas program. “When it came down to it, those kids were really excited to sing,” shared Gregory. “It makes me very hopeful for when we get back to normal.”

Gregory continues to bring vital music to each Sunday mass and he looks forward to finding ways to bring joy to our Easter celebration.

 

St. Peter’s Parish Food Pantry

Ministry Profile:
Saint Peter’s Parish Food Pantry
Faithful Stewards in the time of COVID

In March of 2020, the 10 plus members of the Saint Peter’s Food Pantry staff were working tirelessly to keep the shelves stocked with donations and to support the 20 to 25 families coming to the pantry each week. When our world went into quarantine in the middle of the month, that challenge for supplies grew—and so did the need from families.

Within weeks, ministry leader Joan Daly found a way to open the pantry back up. She began working alone to restock the shelves and devised a way to get necessities to customers. In those early months of the quarantine, while all families were worried about getting essential groceries in their homes, Daly was working especially hard to provide for those in need.

“Sometimes we are down to nothing on the shelves,” Daly shared. “But Father Mike always says everything will work out.” And it does. Thankfully, parishioners continue to donate generously. The Lions Club did a mailing on behalf of the pantry at Thanksgiving. And Volunteer Mary Pennotti has resumed helping Daly with the weekly work—though they are never in the pantry at the same time. Every Tuesday, Pennotti visits Trader Joe’s who donates whatever they have available, including some essentials. Daly said, “For some families, this allows them to have meat, vegetables, eggs…”

Families now make appointments with Daly to safely visit the pantry and pick-up bags that have already been prepared for them personally by Daly and Pennotti. “I take anyone that walks through our doors. We don’t ask for any information,” said Daly. “We just want to help people.”

If you would like to help, supplies can be left in the blue hampers located in the Gathering Space. The Food Pantry remains closed. Hours are by appointment. Please call Joan Daly at the rectory at 201-261-3366 to arrange a time.