Religions and Spirituality

West Essex Parishes Represented in Ministry Fair at St. Thomas More Parish of Fairfield

Religious Education Display Shows the Many Activities that Occur for Students Throughout the Year Credits: Gail Bottone
Children Make Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards for Veterans Credits: Gail Bottone
Renew Displays Materials that are Read and Discussed at Meetings Credits: Gail Bottone
Youth Group and Knights of Columbus Promote Ministries Credits: Gail Bottone

FAIRFIELD, NJ — Fairfield’s St. Thomas More (STM) Parish held part one of its two-part ministry fair on Saturday and Sunday, with part two to be held next weekend.

Parishioners young and old came to see the 15 table displays of the parish’s 30 ministries. O’Connor Hall was humming with people interested in seeing what was happening in the parish.

In addition to the displays, the Youth Group held a trivia contest and provided T-shirts to the winners. A Valentine candy prize was given to one young student and the STM hospitality committee offered drinks and treats to everyone in attendance.

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“We hope to promote the understanding of God’s call to share our time and talent with the community,” said Mary Ann Durantino, facilitator of the event.

Public Discipleship had tables set up to create “Holiday Cards for Hero’s” that will be sent to veterans as Valentine’s Day cards. The Public Discipleship is also collecting toiletries such as hand and body lotions, shaving cream, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. as well as puzzles including crosswords and Sudoku to send to active military overseas.

Those interested in donating toiletries or puzzle books should leave them in the vestibule of the church or in the marked bin in O’Connor Hall at next week’s fair.

A special thank you was given to Angelo Scalo, a Vietnam veteran and member of STM parish, who helps in many events that support veterans.

Eight-year-old Amanda Rizzo, one of several children were busy making homemade cards for the veterans, said that she was having fun making the cards. Ten-year-old Stephanie Mitchell explained that they were doing this as a way of thanking the veterans for all their sacrifices.

Eight-year-old Grace Martin and six-year-old Liam Martin added that the cards are to show love to veterans on Valentine’s Day.

“I am doing this to make the veterans smile,” said four-year-old Luca Venezia.

STM altar servers Jonathan Rizzo and Franco and Rocco Venezia, who were also making cards, said that they like being altar servers and coming every week to help the priests at Mass. They also said that they were making cards to thank the military for keeping them safe.

John Gebbia, representing Cursillo at the fair, said that the event was a “wonderful opportunity to come and see what is being offered at STM and the many committees that influence the life of our parish.”

Cursillo, a three-day retreat originally developed in Spain, is a short, informal, spiritual retreat organized mainly by lay people. According to the group, the “fourth day” is meant to represent the “rest of your life.” Fourth-day groups are active at STM and keep Cursillo, with its spirituality, alive in the parish.

Fred Giordano and Dana Bartello, organizers of the STM youth ministry, attended the fair with members of the youth group to inform guests about their events, including the Box Village, where members sleep outside in boxes in solidarity with the homeless. Nonperishable food is collected and given to the needy during these events.

Peggy Johnson, representing Faith Quest, handed out pamphlets explaining the Lenten program that will be taking place at St. Aloysius this year. She said that on Wednesdays during Lent, four speakers will be on hand each week to talk on specific subjects.

She also said Faith Quest is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The program began in 2007 as part of the Archdiocese of Newark’s New Energies Initiative. 

The four cluster parishes of West Essex include St. Aloysius in Caldwell, Notre Dame in North Caldwell, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Roseland and St. Thomas More in Fairfield. Each year, the parishes collaborate to develop an adult education and information program during the Lenten season. 

STM’s evangelization committee is currently promoting a new program called One Person, One Task, and One Time in order to provide parishioners opportunities to get involved in parish life without being overwhelmed. The first event is on Saturday, March 11.

Each person who signs up for this event is asked to make 10 turkey-and-cheese sandwiches to be donated to The Homeless Bus in Montville. The Homeless Bus feeds 300 people each Saturday night in New York City.

Another event will be on Saturday, March 18 in which participants will join STM’s soup kitchen ministry, which serve through Our Lady’s Soup Kitchen at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Orange.

The soup kitchen takes place on the third Saturday of the month from September to June. A full meal is served at 11:15 a.m.

Neil Pagano is in charge of the Serra Club, which promotes vocations to the priesthood.

The ministries represented at this week’s fair were Cornerstone, Faith Quest, Art and Environment, Cursillo, Ministry of Praise for the Homebound, Card Ministry, Evangelization, Religious Education, Hospitality, Serra Club, Public Discipleship, Renew, Knights of Columbus and Youth Ministry.

Bereavement was not represented at the fair, but STM does have a bereavement group. For further information on any of these groups, call the rectory at 973-227-0055.

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