A MESSAGE FROM FATHER ROCCO
I can remember as a little boy rummaging through a box in the back of my parent’s bedroom closet when neither was looking. I just had to know what was in this box that they never pulled out. As it turned out, it was full of really old 78 rpm records of Bing Crosby. This was my maternal grandmother’s favorite singer, but not my mom’s. In fact, she would make fun of him to upset her mom because she didn’t want to listen to his radio show but instead to a more popular station that would play her favorite crooner, Frank Sinatra. As I marveled at this hidden treasure my mom came into the room. After she scolded me my mom told me that I could listen to them if I wanted to on the family portable record player. As I did, one song caught my ear and imagination, June in January. This song from 1934 was written with Crosby’s baritone voice in mind. Sung beautifully, Crosby tells the story of a guy who falls in love in the most unlikely month of the year, January. A month marked by darkness, cold, shorter days no more Christmas! Yet, this man so in love feels spring in his heart, snow becoming white blossoms, and smelling the scent of roses in the air.
Why do I mention this song? Throughout the month of January at St. Aedan’s I felt the love of the people of the parish again and again. As we battled to keep the poinsettias alive, the parish passionately embraced a campaign to gather needed supplies and support for the Afghan refugees at Fort Dix. Thanks to our Pastoral Advisory Council (PAC) the idea of the campaign had surfaced, but the total BUY IN by the people is what truly knocked me off my feet. So many parishioners, SPU colleagues and alumni and friends of the parish near and far came to drop off at the Center for Jesuit Ministries (formally the Convent), volunteered to sort and package items and also offer monetary donations to fill in any gaps in the generous outpouring of donations and provide for transportation. Included in the teams of volunteers were families from our FAMILY FAITH FORMATION program and also Saint Peter’s Prep families. And as if this is not enough to make January like June, on the day our nation remembered the great voice for racial and social justice, Martin Luther King, Jr., a big truck was rented, packed and blessed and a beautiful parish couple drove it to Fort Dix in the, name of St. Aedan’s, in the name of compassion for refugees who had fled a most horrible situation, and in memory of a man who was assassinated because of his tireless witness for the most oppressed, marginalized and struggling of his times.
But this June in January was also experienced by me and so many others in our celebration of Santo Niño on Sunday, January 9 when parishioners brought to the Church their home images of the Santo Niño to be blessed for a New Year and again on Sunday, January 30 when we consecrated a new devotional shrine for our Latino Community to the Divino Niño. Indeed, in both moments I could feel the joy and hope these images of the Child Jesus, one from the Philippines and the other from Latin America, offer to our parish community. This child has truly inspired us to kindness, gentleness and love for all, but especially to those most in need at the borders of our city and the borders of countries far, far away.
Thank you, people of St. Aedan’s for making my January like June: full of light, hope, love and new possibilities. May the child Jesus especially bless the parish in the weeks ahead as we prepare to enter the Synod on Synodality. Please be sure to sign up to participate! Finally, let us croon with Crosby that 1934 refrain: It’s June in January because I’m in love.