Spring Edition 2023

ABVM Magazine

"ABVM Magazine's mission is to help

our parish family tell their stories of

knowing, loving and serving Jesus."

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September marks the 150th anniversary of Assumption BVM Parish!

Watch for a special Anniversary Summer Edition!



In this edition, we share with you Fr. Scott's homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:




On September 30, 2019, the feast of St. Jerome, the patron saint of biblical scholars, Pope Francis issued a short Apostolic Letter which called for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time "to be devoted to the celebration, study, and dissemination of the word of God." He hoped this would "enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world."


In fact, every celebration of the Mass is a proclamation of the Word of God. It is important to hear this proclamation. In the first centuries of the Church, most Christians learned Scripture by attending the Sunday gathering. Many did not read, nor could they afford to purchase scrolls. It was said of the founder of monasticism, St. Anthony of Egypt, that "he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him, and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books." We are blessed that we can read the Word and have it in our homes, but like St. Anthony, we need to keep it in our minds as well.


I started to memorize Scripture in my college years. I wrote passages on index cards, and after waking up in the morning and before getting out of bed, I would take two or three of the cards and repeat the verses by memory. It changed my life. Memorizing Scripture helped me to overcome some bad habits, and it made positive changes in how I related to people. It improved my thinking about myself and others. I still have that deck of index cards in the top drawer of my night table next to my bed.


Saint Augustine said: "The Gospel is the mouth of Christ. He is seated in heaven, but he has not stopped speaking on earth." If you want to hear Jesus speak, read and listen to his Word. It will convict you of sin but also convince you of your worth to God. It will help you to change behaviors and will alleviate anxiety and depression. I know it because I have seen it in my life and in the lives of so many others. Above all, in the lives of the Saints! St. Paul referred to Scripture as the sword of the Spirit. It is our weapon against sin and the devil.


This morning I came across a passage in 1 Corinthians 10:13. It jumped out at me as if the Lord wanted it to be read at Mass for certain persons that he wanted to hear the message. "No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it."


This message of encouragement, which St. Paul wrote to the members of the church that he founded, also speaks today to Christians going through difficult times. It is a message to the Corinthian Christians of Paul's day, a message to the universal Church today since it is the inspired Word of God and, for some, a personal message from Jesus.


Pope Benedict XVI was probably the greatest biblical scholar of our lifetime. Everything he wrote pretty much focused on Scripture. He had a great mind and could dialogue and debate with the most learned persons, but the Word became so integrated into his thinking that he could communicate its meaning to the average layperson. The last words anyone heard him speak were heard by a nun caring for him in his last hours. She heard him say in a soft but distinguishable voice, in Italian, "Signore ti amo" – "Lord, I love you."

Would that the Word of God so transform you and me that those or similar words will be the last words we ever say! Jesus has assured us that "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63) and "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."(Matthew 7:24)


We commune with God in two ways: by his Word and by his Sacrament. Both are necessary for our salvation. They are our sure path to heaven.

Fr. Scott


On Coming and Going



Several weeks ago, I watched my sons among the pallbearers carrying the royal blue casket down the center aisle of St. Philip Neri Church in Linthicum, Maryland. Inside the casket lay the body of my young cousin, Nick. He died after a nine-year battle with Ewing-sarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer for which no known cure exists.


I grieved for the indescribable loss experienced by Nick's parents, sister, and brother-in-law. I especially grieved for his 2-year-old niece who will learn, in the coming years, that her uncle often spoke of her as his reason for wanting to continue his fight. As I grieved, though, I thought about the treasure of life in The Church—on coming and going into and out of the world anchored in the Catholic faith—and how grateful I am for the sacred traditions.


There are no coincidences in life. As are the ways of the Divine, the priest celebrating Nick's funeral Mass, Fr. Andy Aaron, was the same priest who baptized my oldest son 14 years ago in a different parish, where my small family attended Mass before moving to Pennsylvania. Fr. Andy now serves in a parish outside of Baltimore, which happens to be that of my parents and several extended family members. I began thinking back to my son's baptism, that early marking of Church community, and the importance of the oils marking our way into and out of this earthly life.


Days later, each one waking with memories of my cousin, my thoughts turned toward the apostasy that has woven its way through the fabric of the current age: those who declare that they no longer consider the Catholic Church their home. They likely erroneously believe themselves to be all the smarter for it. They don't realize they have adopted a trend that is not-at-all new and places them among all the ages of the past—from which humanity never learns—in that cycle of rebellion and redemption, which has been the hallmark of the relationship between God and human beings for all of time. We've yet to transcend this cycle collectively. So it is now as it has always been: human beings exchange the joy, liberation, and beauty of Catholicism for the human ways of lackluster and bondage.


In her book, The History of God, well-known British author Karen Armstrong, who gradually strayed from religious attachment—catalyzed by abuses she suffered while in the convent—writes that even the earliest of faiths have "been an essential component of the human experience of this beautiful yet terrifying world...to find meaning and value in life, despite the suffering that flesh is heir to." All my hopes for my children are wrapped into the threads of faith. The weaving of these threads is awry at times because skilled weavers we humans are not, and though misshapen threads they may be, we carry the threads of our faith to all of the far corners of our lives.


During the Presentation of the Gifts at the funeral, I carried a small box containing Nick's pocket watch up the center aisle. Carved into the watch is the image of a steam engine, an image that has meaning for my younger son who, like Nick, is a train collector and hobbyist. Fr. Andy blessed the watch, and later that day, Nick's mother gifted it to my unsuspecting 12-year-old son. She asked him to continue to carry on with the wonder of trains—a thread weaving a connection between his and Nick's lives.


Watching my boys participate in the funeral Mass brought to mind a question my friend, Grace, posed for me a couple of months ago about Transubstantiation. She was curious as to how I taught my children this essence—the lifeblood—of the Holy Mass.


We live in a digital, detached world that is fast and furious, with people adrift on the ways of the prodigal son. They have lifted their anchors and set sail toward a direction they know not. In this world, my children have remained steadfastly attracted to the Eucharist, not in any vocal way, but in a quieter one. Even so, I thought much about Grace's question and realized that I have no answer to it. Intuitively, somehow through experience and encounter, my children know the Eucharist is The Christ.


Jesus says to all those open to listening, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." My cousin Nick is certainly counted among them. He suffered in his illness but remained innocent and hopeful, never outwardly complaining. He hoped for and watched everyone else enjoy the simple happenings and ordinariness of life that we all take for granted. He kept the faith. He stayed the course. His heart was pure to the very end of his short earthly life.


I wonder...Do we make the treasures and the joys and the sacred traditions of the Church known to our children, or do they, in purity of heart, make them known to all of us?


Lisa Goldstein is a mom trying to juggle a million different things while raising her kids in the Church, just like many other parents at ABVM are trying to do.





Like many born, baptized, and confirmed Catholics who attended 12 years of Catholic school, I stopped attending Mass after college. But in my late twenties, I started to attend again because, dutiful as it may seem, I wanted to make my mother happy. And, after a while to my great surprise, I realized I actually liked going to Mass. And I wanted to receive the Eucharist. That was probably my first step on my journey to the Father and to being a committed Catholic. I knew I was on the right path when I made a Cursillo weekend in 1980. This weekend sealed my relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Eucharist and set me on a lifelong journey to learn more about and love my faith as a Catholic.


My most recent learning experience was joining the initial Walking with Purpose Bible Study, Opening Your Heart. (See the 2021 Fall ABVM Magazine for more info on Walking with Purpose.) Over 21 weekly sessions, I deepened my knowledge of the Bible and my love for the Church. It was in the 12th session "What Does the Eucharist Have to Do with my Friendship with Christ" that a question came up about transubstantiation and how and from whom do Catholic children nowadays learn about it.


None of us in the group could remember how we learned, though I suppose, I must have been taught in school that the bread and wine in the Mass actually become the Body and Blood of Christ, and we receive Him in Communion. And, most likely, I heard this while preparing for my First Holy Communion. So, I thought I'd ask my friend Lisa how her boys learned about this crucial dogma of our faith. You can read Lisa's response in the "Family in the Church" column.


So as an adult, I understand and believe in transubstantiation—that during Consecration in the Mass, when the priest recites Jesus's words at the Last Supper (Luke 22: 19-20, https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/22), the bread does indeed become Christ's Body and the wine does indeed become Christ's Blood. And here is the foundation for my belief and why I am Catholic: John 6:54-56.

Elevation of the host

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.


But I invite you to read the whole chapter. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/6

Grace Charlton is proud to be 100% Sicilian and very happy she retired from IT after 31 years to become a freelance editor. She loves proclaiming the Word of God and praising God through song.

Assumption BVM Parish will celebrate its 150th anniversary in October 2023. To commemorate this event, the ABVM Parish Magazine is presenting articles about the celebration.



ABVM Church circa 1900

On April 3, Father Scott held the initial planning meeting in the Parish Life Center for the 150th Parish Anniversary celebration of the parish's founding. Seventeen people were in attendance. Following his opening prayer, Father Scott listed some of his goals for the celebration: "To thank God, praise God, [recall] our life together as a parish, honor all who built up the parish—many people of many generations—[and to] revitalize our ministries." Then, Father Scott shared some key points about the celebration:

~ Archbishop Perez will celebrate Mass at the parish on Sunday, October 8.

~ A reception will be held following the Mass.

~ October 8 will be the kickoff for an extended celebration of the Anniversary, concluding on December 8.

~ During this period, the goal is to include several activities on different dates that will keep the focus on the anniversary.


Next, Father Scott invited the attendees to discuss potential ideas for the celebration. The topics discussed are listed below.

~ Reception options – A catered event in the Parish Center to accommodate many people

~ Archbishop's Mass – How many people are expected? Will the Mass be at 10 or 12? What is the impact on Communion calls?

~ Potential events during the 2-month celebration: A parish mission, a Eucharistic procession, pilgrimage events

~ Potential for a new parish photo directory. Father Brockson is heading this project.

~ Coordination with other events – Oktoberfest, Knights of Columbus/Ladies Auxiliary Christmas Dinner

~ Potential fund-raising activities – Cookbook, commemorative bricks with dedications engraved (to be placed in Our Lady's grotto or elsewhere on the campus)

~ Sale of the stained-glass windows currently in storage

~ Giveaways and trinkets

~ Development of an overall budget for the celebration based on activities




On April 3, I attended the planning meeting for the 150th Anniversary celebration of our parish. After a brief prayer, Father Scott reflected on the reasons for the celebration: "To thank God, praise God, [recall] our life together as a parish, honor all who built up the parish—many people of many generations—[and to] revitalize our ministries." These words, to my complete surprise, had a profound impact on me. As I listened to the discussion that followed, I was certain that others in the room felt the same.


I wondered, "What does 150 years of parish history mean?" We can look at dates on a calendar, or accounts of notable events, or old photographs and expect to understand. Instead, I think we can better appreciate the meaning of those 150 years when we see a young family holding their children up so they can see the priest on the altar, or when someone lights a candle or kneels in quiet prayer, or when people smile as they greet a friend before Mass. Our parish history is the story of each generation's gift of faith to the next, beginning with priests riding on horseback from town to town to offer Mass in Catholic homes along the way and culminating in our beautiful parish today. Since the beginning, our people came to the altar to receive Christ in the Eucharist, the spiritual food needed for their earthly journey.


Today, as we walk in our own faith journey just as they did, let us acknowledge their gift to us and honor and celebrate them during our 150th anniversary celebration.


Parish Appeal Update



ABVM introduced the Parish Appeal in 2015 to eliminate the second collection. Before 2015, this additional collection was used to raise money for specific needs—such as snow removal, heating oil, roofing repairs, storm damage, filling potholes—and unexpected needs.


Thanks to your generosity, the Parish Appeal has been an incredible success! Now, parish expenses not covered in the operating budget are met by the Parish Appeal rather than tapping the parish’s reserve or emergency funds, making the second collection a thing of the past (except for Archdiocesan-mandated collections). But, more importantly, the Appeal has helped significantly improve ABVM’s cash flow. We can now meet our normal expenses as well as have the flexibility to pay for major maintenance and upgrade projects.


When Hurricane Ida drenched West Grove in 2021, the church roof experienced numerous major leaks. After inspecting the roof, it was clear that replacing the entire roof was the only viable option to address leaks and avoid even more costly repairs in the future. While there were plans for replacing the roof in 2022, it was also clear that this had to be done immediately. Because of funds from the Parish Appeal and the Offertory Collection, ABVM could pay $71,250 for a new roof without drawing from other funds or taking out a loan.

Our church gets a new roof

Our church gets a new roof

New carpeting

New carpeting

Also in 2021, the parish replaced all the carpeting in the church for $24,692 with donations from parishioners and proceeds from the Appeal. The parish installed a new security system, including remote locking doors, for $43,321 with money from the Appeal. In 2022, Appeal funds made up half of the total cost of over $47,000 to repaint the Parish Center roof; ABVM school contributed the remainder.

Church security system

Church security system

The Parish Center's painted roof

The Parish Center's painted roof

A current project will improve the parking lot and church entrance lighting by replacing existing fixtures with more efficient, energy-saving LEDs. Thanks to a PECO rebate, the cost to the parish is $17,000, 50% of the total cost. This will be paid from contributions to the Parish Appeal. The parish is expected to recoup the $17,000 in three years based on current estimates of the energy saved using the new fixtures.


While major improvement projects are very important, we should emphasize that the Appeal also helps us “keep the lights on”; many mundane, but critical, expenses are covered by the Appeal. For example, it is estimated that, this year, our parish will spend over $2,000 a month for cleaning the church, more than $31,000 a year for lawn mowing and snow removal, and almost $3,500 a month for electricity.


We are midway through the 2023 Parish Appeal, and 234 families have contributed ~$94,000, or 63% of our goal. If you haven’t had a chance to donate, there is still time, and every gift, regardless of size, makes a big difference. Please consider making a one-time online donation. Go to our Parish website and open the Giving menu item. Select Parish eGiving Sign Up or Login, then Parish Appeal. It’s quick, easy, and secure.

Thank you!

John Lynch is the Parish Development Council President.

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