Our CHURCH HISTORY FOR THE PAST DECADE

           

         St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church is celebrating its golden anniversary!  It is most certainly a milestone, and there is much to recall in the history of the last decade.  St Barnabas became a parish on September 27, 1966; in September of 2006 we celebrated our 40th Anniversary; and now ten years later we commemorate 50 years as a parish.

 

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            St. Barnabas is very fortunate to have an active, dedicated, and devout congregation who comprise all aspects of both the spiritual and lay facets of everyday life.  The pastors in this decade were Father Kevin Keelan until 2012 when he was reassigned; and Father Stanley Lukaszewski, known as Fr. Stas, who took over the reins on July 1, 2012 and is still leading us today.  Fr. Stas is a people’s priest as he told us in his introductory speech from the Altar.  He is simply looking to serve the needs of the people of St. Barnabas.  He has made many changes to the betterment of our parish community.  These improvements include: our beautiful Holy Door, moving the Tabernacle to the center of the newly installed sanctuary wall, moving the Baptismal font under the newly installed skylights, the lighting in the Church, new Stations of the Cross, new holy water fonts, a new roof on the Church, and cement outside the front of the Church and paving in the Chapel’s parking lot.  We have also had dedicated parochial vicars Fr. Michael Hall and Fr. Roberto Padilla; and at present Fr. Andres Serna.  We have been privileged to have retired priests assist in our parish and they are very devoted to us:  Monsignor John Wehrlen and Fr. Jack Connor.

            In addition, the services provided by our Deacons is a blessing to our priests and parishioners.  At present we have three permanent Deacons:  Deacon George Swanson, Deacon Bob Gay, and Deacon Stanley Kendrick.  Deacons George and Bob minister at the nursing homes every week and assist at daily and weekend masses.  Deacon Stan is still working full time so can only cover weekend masses.  All three deacons are involved in St. Vincent de Paul, Pre Cana, Interfaith Hospitality, and Adoration.  They preside at funeral wakes, home and memorial services, Baptisms, teach at RCIA, and work in hospital and prison ministries.  With the shortage of priests, it is wonderful to have 3 deacons here at St. Barnabas.  Their wives are also actively involved in many parish ministries.

            In the past Deacon Mike Taylor was a Pastoral Associate and with Fr. Kevin started the first St. Vincent de Paul at our parish.  He is now a Deacon at St. Joe’s in Toms River and is also involved in the hospital ministry at Community.  Deacon Owen Grimes in now a Benedictine Monk and Deacon at St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, NJ.  Deacon Pete Clausen is retired after 25 years of service and resides in Bayville.  Deacon Jim Cummings ministers at Community Medical Center weekly and is retired as well.  Deacon Guy Rasmussen was in charge of the Bereavement Ministry, but has now retired and moved to Port Richey, Florida.  Deacon Mike Smigelski ran the RCIA program with his wife Ann Marie, and is now active as a Deacon at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Bluffton, SC.

            A vital part of the successful running of our parish is the staff.  Barbara Dudek is the Business Administrator and the key ingredient to making the parish work.  All activities must go through her to be scheduled on the calendar.  Her trusty sidekick is Gail Battisti office secretary and receptionist.  Also located in the parish office is Terry Damiano, pastoral associate.  Terry oversees Bereavement, Comfort Ministry, Hospital/Nursing Home Visitors, Rainbows, Cornerstone, the scheduling of the Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors, and is a member of the Parish Council.  Another pastoral associate is Dan Waddington who wears many hats with his Youth Ministry and serves on the Parish Council.  As the leader of the St. Barnabas Active Teens or BATS, Dan instills in our teenagers how their faith can be a very real personal experience coupled with the community building of our parish.  BATS becomes a place where they can feel safe and accepted, allowing them to be who they are as a person and as a Catholic.

            In our community, the BATS have become a significant part of many aspects of parish life.  They are very involved in our Thanksgiving food drive and Project Joy, our annual Christmas gift drive.  Annual trips to a local nursing home and helping parishioners in need with yard work, etc. have become a tradition during the Triduum.  The Bats also work closely with our St. Vincent de Paul Society in support of the food pantry as a part of the “Souper Bowl of Caring” during Super Bowl Weekend.  The BATS present a powerful presentation and beautiful tradition with their “Living Stations of the Cross” each year during Lent.

            Beyond our parish, the BATS also attend retreats, lock-ins, conferences, youth rallies, and mission trips as ways of experiencing their faith and putting this faith into action.  Annual trips to our summer retreat, food banks, and St. Francis Inn- a soup kitchen in Philadelphia, show how they exemplify their faith and make a difference!  Most recently the BATS have joined forces with other area youth groups to create Mission: Jersey, which is a mission experience that began as a response to Super-storm Sandy.  Our teens give a week of their summer each year to Mission: Jersey which initially served those in need after the storm primarily through home repair.  Now four years later the “mission” of Mission: Jersey has expanded to serve in the Atlantic City Rescue mission, the Community Food Bank of NJ, the Ocean County Hungry Relief Center and more.

            Also on our staff at St. Barnabas are the custodial and maintenance crew.  These men work inside and out:  Alvaro Ramirez and Daniel Wright.  Along with volunteer Tom Dudek they keep the grounds and buildings looking pristine.  Evelyn Diaz serves as housekeeper and cook for the priests.

            Our Director of Religious Education is Mary Britanak and her secretary/assistant is Stephanie DeCrescenzo.  In the last ten years, the Religious Education program has grown to an average of 1400 children per year, grades 1-8.  We also have a Teen/Young Adult Sacramental program for those ages 14 and above who, for whatever reason, did not complete their sacramental reception, and we are known throughout the diocese for our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) process.  Ten years ago we were experimenting with Whole Community Catechesis, a process where parents attend with their children and grow in their knowledge of the faith.  The first year we had 40 families and 65 children on Sunday morning. We now have two sessions on Sunday, and also on Monday and Tuesday evenings, with more than half of our families participating.  We also have increased our collaboration other ministries so the children and their parents can learn how to be a more active part of the community.  Our program promotes growth in faith through active participation in our faith and our parish.

            With over 100 children, dozens of teen helpers, and dozens of adult volunteers attending each year, Vacation Bible School remains an everlasting tradition in the lives of St. Barnabas’ parish families.  During this week children are able to witness God through activities, games, snacks, and of course, Bible stories.  Next summer a new VBS director will be welcomed.  Kristin Weinbel has been involved with VBS since kindergarten and is thrilled to take charge with the assistance of Megan Polozzo who is also a longtime participant.  VBS continues to be the link that brings families together year after year.  Each July after a busy school year these families continue to come back to St. Barnabas to experience the joys of VBS even as far away as Hawaii.  VBS looks forward to their 20th Anniversary in 2018!

            In 2006 the Gift Store moved to its new location in the foyer of St. Brennan Hall.  The Parish and SVDP shared the responsibility for the Gift/Thrift store until 2013 when it became the St. Barnabas Religious Article Store.  The latter stocks many religious articles such as statues, rosaries, Bibles, adult and children’s books, religious jewelry along with St. Barnabas apparel.  Specialty items are made to coincide with religious events and sacraments throughout the year.  There are also many items to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.

            At all the Masses, we are fortunate to have our Eucharistic Ministers, our Lectors, our Altar Servers, and our Ushers.  These volunteers work at their assigned posts and assist with the smooth execution of our Mass schedule.  They are also an important part of our sacramental celebrations.  In addition, many Eucharistic Ministers are part of our Homebound Ministry.  They offer their time and compassion in delivering the Eucharist to those unable to come to Mass.  They also serve at Community Medical Center bringing Communion to the patients.  These jobs are performed by dedicated parishioners who give of their time and talent to serve the Lord.

            It is due to our very active Music Ministry that we all enjoy music at all liturgical functions.  In the early part of this last decade Thomas Hinz led the music ministry for two years.  We have had the joint leadership of Joseph Antonowicz and Val O’Connor for many years.  During their tenure the music ministry choirs, including adult, youth, and teen, and song leaders have doubled in membership; the screen operator ministry was formed to enhance song and prayed worship via plasma screen displays; the Hand Bell Choir restarted for a full season of ringing; the Latino Choir was formed to sing weekly at our Spanish Liturgy and also unites with the adult choir to provide bilingual liturgical music at all major holy days and parish wide liturgies.  String, especially violin played by Melissa Antonowicz, wood wind and brass players minister regularly at liturgies; the former Rock Band transitioned into a Worship Band to provide music ministry monthly; and most recently a schola group named Gloria Cantorum was commissioned to provide sung four-part music once a month at liturgies.  On the physical housekeeping side of music ministry, a new ministry practice room was built from the former administrative church office space; the main church organ was repositioned within the church music ministry space and retuned in anticipation of our 50th Anniversary celebration; a quality organ was donated for use in Fr. Brennan Hall; and a new electronic piano was installed in the main church allowing us to move the former church piano into the chapel.  These all allow our parish to enhance and expand the musicality offerings in all worship spaces.  Finally, a state of the art carillon bell system was installed to enrich our outdoor music ministry with calls to worship as well as festive bell music playing both before and after liturgical celebrations.         

Scouting is a national treasure and has a long standing tradition in America.  Boy Scout Troop #76 has been in existence for 40 years, but has been chartered by St. Barnabas since 2009.  There are 30 boys at present and 15 registered leaders.  St. Barnabas has been a great partner with Troop 76 as they work together to assist one another.  The boys have done several projects around the church grounds and have adopted the Thanksgiving Food Drive to help the pantry.  The church has helped the boys earn their scouting religious medals at various ranks.  Troop 76 has partnered with the Knights of Columbus for fundraisers to help send the boys to summer camp where they earn merit badges and have lots of fun!

            St. Vincent de Paul is alive and well at St. Barnabas where we have 104 Vincentians who volunteer their time and their hearts to assist the poor in our area by answering the calls of those in need- staffing our food pantry and the Religious Article Store, and taking on special projects such as our school supply drive, the Thanksgiving food program, and Project Joy which is our Christmas toy distribution.  Our volunteers provide administrative and spiritual support services, community awareness events, and go on home visits.  In the nine month period between October 2015-June 2016 our volunteers answered 1,886 telephone calls resulting in 7,454 bags of food being distributed to 590 families totaling 1,080 people; 176 people in 57 families received $18,942.29 in financial assistance; 1,080 people in 265 families were provided Thanksgiving dinners and 702 children from 280 families were provided Christmas gifts; and each and every resident in all 3 of Bayville’s nursing homes had their Christmas wish list fulfilled.  This is a testament to the support and assistance of our parish and its parishioners.

            St. Barnabas also has a Social Action Hotline for people in need of furniture, clothing, household and baby items.  This allows those in need to be put in touch with those who are donating!

            Another outstanding service organization and ministry is the Knights of Columbus St. Barnabas Council #8603.  Since their inception in 1984, the Council has grown from 119 to 299 members today.  We are proud of the Council’s spot in the top 1% for exceeding new membership goals bringing in more than 120 members in the past 3 years.  In the community, they helped reconstruct a playground destroyed by Super Storm Sandy; they delivered holiday food and presents to the less fortunate and needed supplies for the homeless in Ocean County.  They helped fund an ultra sound machine supporting Right to Life, the Special Olympics and children with special needs.  At our St. Barnabas community, the K of C has donated funds to install new heating/air conditioning units in the Chapel and linens for the Altar.  They contributed toward the purchase of a garage for storage of parish equipment and have made a financial commitment toward future building improvement.  They participate in local food drives and deliver and donate funds to SVDP’s food pantry.  They donate the “John J Gallagher Scholarship Award” and host a pizza party for the Altar Servers.  With their annual pancake breakfast, they raise money to send Troop 76 to summer camp.  They support and donate to our Seminarians.  They provide scrolls and rosary beads to the newly baptized and support other family ministries such as Interfaith in helping to set up rooms for homeless families and they provide food and cooking one night during that week.  They help provide manpower to the Rosary Altar Society at their annual Fish n Chips Dinner.  They help at parish picnics and recently began “Breakfast with Santa.”  They run an Italian Night and a Night at the Races in addition to selling food at the summer concert series.  The Baby Bottle Boomerang Campaign raises thousands of dollars for children and prolife causes.

            The Rosary Altar Society at St. Barnabas is another extremely active ministry.  Their purpose is to praise and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and to secure her patronage by the recitation of the Rosary for the mutual spiritual benefit of the members throughout the world.  They pray for all the people in the parish who ask for their intercession.  The Rosarians are very involved in parish life.  They attend Mass together once a month and celebrate Mary in a daily recitation of the Rosary.  They facilitate Marian feast activities such as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the May Crowning.  Rosarians pray and send cards to members in need and gather at wakes and funerals of Rosarians who has passed away to pray the Rosary.  Rosarians wash and iron the linens used at Mass and also sign up for weekly responsibilities to do light cleaning of the Church and the Chapel.  Rosarians host a Birthright Baby Shower every year and bring baby items and checks to donate to the Birthright organization of Toms River.  Members cut, trace, sew, and embroider the bibs used for all babies baptized at St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church.  Rosarians volunteer to bake desserts for Church activities.  Our members visit the Nursing Homes in Bayville and lead the residents in saying the Rosary.  Rosarians attend an annual retreat every November at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ as well as a Day of Recollection in May.  We attend an Area Wide Communion Mass and Luncheon in October and hold our own Communion Breakfast in May.  The Annual Fish n Chips Dinner is held as a fund raiser to provide funds to the parish every Christmas.  Each monthly meeting has a different theme which begins with the recitation of the Rosary and ends with a religious reading.  We have contributed money to Fr. Stas for new vestments for the Priests and Deacons as well as linens for the Altars in the Church and in the Chapel.  This community of women is joined by our devotion to Mary and our commitment to St. Barnabas.  Many of our Rosarians are Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Vincentians, Eucharistic Adorers, CCD teachers, Bereavement and Comfort Ministers, involved in the Nursing Ministry, Interfaith, prayer groups, and the Golden Age Club and many other areas of parish life.

            In preparation for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, St. Barnabas offers a Pre Cana Ministry.  The Pre Cana team here has been serving our Diocese for over 40 years and approximately 60 couples come through the program each year.  The team is made up of 12 couples whose marriages range from a few years to 50 plus.  Together with the diocesan team, parish staff and priests, they minister to engaged couples from our diocese.  They meet 3 times a year and are blessed to be able to share their love for each other and God in their marriages.  Their discussions help to prepare the engaged couples for their weddings as well as their lifetime commitment to their marriage.

            The St. Barnabas Respect Life Ministry began in 2008.  Our mission is to protect, defend, and serve all life in all its stages from conception until natural death.  We are one ministry with many committees including Right to Life, Adoption, Single Moms, and end of life.  Our mission statement speaks to our clear commitment and we hope that others who feel the same will join us in our journey to serve our Lord.  Our mission: “As members of the St. Barnabas Respect Life Ministry, we deeply believe in the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.  As committed Catholics, we belong to a local and universal community that has given consistent witness that all life is to be inherently valued, loved, and treasured as a gift from GOD.  Because we believe there is no greater gift, we are called through our ministries to become diligent stewards and defenders of the sanctity of life.”

            The Golden Age Club began as a place for seniors in the parish to gather and share in old friendships and to make new ones.  Remembering that our parish is a combination of all ages, it is good to have a place for our “golden age” parishioners to come and socialize once a month.

            For the past ten years St. Barnabas has hosted a division of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Ocean County, Inc.  Its mission is to help the homeless families of Ocean County.  There are 12 churches involved, each hosting approximately 3-4 times per year.  IHNOC is a non-profit, interfaith ministry- Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths are represented.  It is committed to providing shelter, meals, and assistance to families with children who are temporarily homeless.  With the help of trained volunteers, it reaches out with compassion and acceptance, providing help, hope, and a safe haven for our guests while they seek permanent employment and affordable housing.  It also increases community awareness and advocates solutions to homelessness.  Besides providing shelter and meals, we also participate in the Holiday gift giving program with the help of the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, and the food pantry.

            We are fortunate to have many avenues for prayer in our parish community.  The Eucharistic Adoration Ministry is a thriving ministry with devotion to Our Lord in Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  For 16 years every day our beautiful Chapel “Star of the Sea” is open for all to visit and be in the presence of our Lord in quiet prayer and adoration.

             “Contemplative Prayer is a gage of faith fixed on Jesus.  It is a gift, a grace, accepted only in humility and poverty.  It is a relationship established by God within the silence of our hearts and there, the Holy Spirit conforms us ‘to His Likeness.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church- article 2713) The Contemplative Prayer meeting consists of a short scripture reading repeated 4 times with intervals of silence in between.  Following the last reading there is a twenty-minute period of silence.  Afterward, there is sharing, petitions, and closing prayer.

            The St. Barnabas Open Door Prayer Group is dedicated to prayer for their members, our parish, the Church, our country, and the world.  They take calls from the prayer chain hot line and pray for those intentions.  When the need arises, they are involved in healing prayer.  In October, they host a Rosary Rally Day for the parish in the name of Our Lady of Fatima.  They provide meals for Interfaith 3-4 times per year.  They have participated in Healing Masses, and in the Life of the Spirit Seminars at St. Joseph RC Church.  They also gather for special retreat days.

            The Little Rock Scripture Study has been at St. Barnabas since 2002.  It is a prayer based Catholic study named after the Little Rock, Arkansas Diocese which is where it began.  They continue to study books and gospels from the Old and New Testament.  Since 2008 they have sponsored a young boy named Martin, age 11, from Uganda for his educational needs.  Martin in now 19 and is pursuing a career in Nursing.

            Our Nursing Ministry helps the parishioners by offering their services in many ways: there are blood pressure screenings after the Masses the last weekend of the month; there is someone available in the Parish Nursing Office from 9-12 once a week; twice a year the Nursing Ministry hosts the Healing Mass.  Once a year usually in October, they hold Nutrition classes- a series of 3 which teach healthy nutrition.  They have hosted 3 Health Fairs in the last 10 years where health professionals are here to share their expertise with the parish community.  The Cancer Support Group meets once a month and is a great place to share personal experiences.  There is a Flu Clinic scheduled for October and they have hosted Skin Screenings usually in March or April.  In addition, the Nursing Ministry sends over 1000 cards to veterans overseas in time for Christmas.  These are written by CCD students and our parishioners.

            The Prayer Shawl Ministry was established in 2007 and meets once a month.  They knit and crochet prayer shawls to be given out at the Healing Masses during Advent and Lent, and for the Bereavement Group here at St. Barnabas.  Prayer Shawls are a comfort to the ill, to the grieving, and to those who need a little sunshine in their lives!

            The Comfort Ministry offers families who have lost a loved one help with the preparations for the Roman Catholic Mass of Christian burial.  These comfort ministers meet with family members to choose the scripture readings, the music selections, which family members/friends are going to participate in the readings and petitions, and the bringing up of gifts.  The Comfort Ministry helps to ease part of the grief our families experience with death.

            The St. Barnabas Bereavement Ministry helps to facilitate and process the grief the family experiences once the deceased is buried.  This support group of trained lay people provide a safe environment for the bereaved.  Small intimate groups are afforded a private place to share the pain of the loss of a loved one.  A six-month period after the death is a suggested interval before joining this group.  The six-week program focuses on personal recovery and growth after a loss.  These groups are held in the spring and the fall.

            Rainbows is a ministry to help children ages 7-18 who have experienced any type of loss.  Confidentiality is stressed with the children and teens.  It is normally two six week programs with a break in between to celebrate their progress.  It is not actively meeting at present, but can be arranged through the diocese whenever necessary,

            Cornerstone is a 26-hour retreat held in our parish once a year.  It was brought to St. Barnabas eight years ago; it is an opportunity for women to come together to nurture their spiritual life through reflection, prayer, small group discussion, and liturgy.  This experience also includes an opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation and culminates in a Mass in the Chapel for family and friends.  Cornerstone provides the opportunity to reflect, renew, and strengthen your faith while meeting other members of our faith community in a relaxed and social environment.

            The Latino Ministry has many celebrations during the year: In October they have Lord of Miracle (Senor de los Milagros) which includes Mass followed by a small procession and then a celebration; On April they celebrate the Chapel of Divine Mercy in the Church- this is bilingual; in December there is Celebration Ladie of Guadalupe= this is a large procession followed by Mass and a major festival.  In addition, once a week Sons and Daughters of St. Mary (Hijos de Maria Santisima) meets for prayer for a two-hour period.  Of course, many of our Hispanic community are also members of other ministries.

            Jerry Bowden, a licensed clinical social worker, has been offering his free counseling services to St. Barnabas for twenty years. He works with adults and adolescents in many areas such as grief counseling and marriage counseling.  Any donations offered are given to our Church.

            Spiritual Direction is offered by Pat Kendrick and Bruno Multari.  Spiritual Direction is an on-going relationship in which one person desirous of being attentive to God in his everyday life meets with the director on a regular basis for the purpose of becoming more attuned to God’s presence every day.  

            The Parish Stewardship Council comprised of Dan Waddington, Terry Damiano, Bruno Multari, and Ruth Kostick run stewardship events and assist and support Fr. Stas in parish events.  The establishment of a Finance Committee was formed to help Fr. Stas regarding parish finances.

 

            We are very fortunate to have so many diverse ministries at St. Barnabas.  Hopefully the needs of our parishioners are available and waiting for individuals to pursue.  We have been blessed by the leadership of our pastors the past ten years, and we have truly grown immensely in this decade.  Fr. Stas has given us the opportunity, the guidance, and the support to become better individuals in our common goal of serving Our Lord and our parish family.  The role of St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church in our lives is a testament to and reflection of our commitment to God and the precepts of our Catholic faith.  We are so happy to celebrate our Golden Jubilee!