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Bishop Barres' Message to the Faithful

July 29, 2020
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
Our Catholic schools and the tuition-paying families that support them are facing enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One month ago I shared with you the sad news that due in part to the pandemic, three of our elementary schools would close and not reopen in September. Our Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation is expecting and planning for what they forecast to be a dramatic increase in requests for tuition assistance due to the effects of the pandemic.
 
Many of our elected officials recognize that this pandemic is affecting all schools, including Catholic and other non-government schools. And, now the United States Congress is working on another stimulus bill to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic for critical parts of the economy and society, including schools. Catholic and other religious and independent schools must be included in this relief package! On behalf of the thousands of our Catholic school parents and students,
 
I am urging you to contact our U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and your local Congressional Representative to insist that Catholic and other religious and independent schools receive their fair share of funds to safely reopen. These funds are needed so that our struggling tuition-paying families can keep their children enrolled in our Catholic schools.
 
Time is of the essence, so please I urge you to add your voice today by sending your message to your legislators.
 
An easy way to act is by visiting the New York State Catholic Conference Website. There, you can send email messages to your U.S. Senate representatives and your U.S. Representative with only a few mouse clicks.
Visit https://www.nyscatholic.org/nys-catholic-conference-action-center/
 
You can also email Senator Schumer by visiting: https://www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck
Senator Gillibrand can be emailed by visiting: https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/email-me.
 
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. You and your family are remembered in my daily prayers.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre
 
 
June 21, 2020
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
 
As we celebrate the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we know that we are living through frightening times. In this week’s gospel, (Matthew 10:26-33) Jesus proclaims to his Apostles, “Do not be afraid.” We have been blessed through these challenging times to have the Catholic Faith Network (CFN), our very own television network which broadcasts in more than 50 dioceses around the country.
 
Our fears have been allayed by the fact that throughout this pandemic in spite of safety limits on public gatherings for worship and quarantine, the Catholic Faith Network continued to bring us the life of the Church: the Mass five times a day, devotions, our Holy Father, our Bishops, and inspiring programming to help us remain focused on Christ our hope in the midst of these days. CFN continues to bring you the Mass and other prayers from St. Agnes Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Vatican, and in Spanish from Our Lady of Loretto.
 
CFN’s offices have been flooded with thank you letters and emails of appreciation and gratefulness. For this, we are humbly grateful! CFN is making a difference, and the CFN team is committed to continuing this great work.
 
Like so many organizations, these days of pandemic have hurt CFN financially. They had to cancel their Golf Outing and two mailings that fell in the midst of the worst days. I am writing to you now asking you to consider a gift to CFN to support its ministry and help it to continue its mission. We have seen the pain of so many, some have lost loved ones, some jobs and security, and for many peace of mind has been shaken yet CFN brings comfort in traumatic times.
 
Msgr. James C. Vlaun, the extraordinary C.E.O. and President of CFN notes that that in the midst of this time of suffering, the message of Catholic Faith Network remains strong; in fact, very strong! On Easter Sunday for example, CFN had over 142k unique viewers on its website alone. That does not include television viewers or those watching on CFN’s many other platforms as well (Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, our IOS App, Facebook Live, YouTube, Verizon FiOS, Altice/Cablevision, Time Warner/Spectrum). With such a strong viewership there is real hope that our Catholic faith will grow and many will return to the life of faith.
 
Please consider helping CFN. Your prayers and your gift are an affirmation in the midst of this crisis. The CFN team has never wavered in their commitment to bring you the Church; this is a moment to thank them for their service! They are another “front line” group in this pandemic whose ministry helps carry us through the “valley of darkness” we are travelling.
 
Visit www.CFNtv.org/donate for the many ways you can donate, or send your donation to The Catholic Faith Network at PO Box 158, Uniondale, NY 11553-0158.
 
Please know that you and your family are remembered in my daily prayers and Masses.
 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Most Reverend John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre
 
 
June 5, 2020
 
RE: Racism and George Floyd
 
FROM: Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop, Diocese of Rockville Centre
 
Before the Civil War there was a block of stone on what later became the Belmont Abbey College property in North Carolina. It was called the “Slave Stone” because slaves being sold at auction were made to stand on that stone so that potential buyers could see them.
 
Years later, the Stone was turned and refashioned into a baptismal font that is now in the entryway of the Mary Help of Christians Basilica on the Belmont Abbey College campus. A plaque was placed on this font that is there to this day that connects the Waters of Baptism with the freedom to be children of God.
 
A slave rock transformed into a baptismal font is a powerful image that can help us to rediscover the relationship in our Catholic faith between repentance and conversion, and social change.
 
Each one of us today opens our hearts and lives to the Holy Spirit, the indwelling presence of the Holy Trinity within us and the power of the Body and Blood of Christ to transform us, heal us, inspire us so that we can be instruments of Spirit-driven social change that rejects hatred, violence, racism and blindness and embraces the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
 
Imprinted in this stone was the emotional memory of the coarse cruelty of the slave traders and the anguish and trauma of slave families being separated and further stripped of their human dignity. The Slave Stone carried some of the emotional imprint of the stones of Calvary itself as do historical images from our nation’s history of lynchings, Jim Crow laws, film footage of fire hoses turned on African Americans engaged in peaceful civil rights protests and now, the recent horrific video we all saw depicting the tragic and senseless killing of George Floyd, a man who was in police custody on a Minneapolis street.
 
On behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, I express my heartfelt prayers and condolences to the Floyd family. We pray for peace on the streets of our cities. We pray that peace, charity and justice may animate non-violent protests. We pray for our public servants, our police, our first responders and their families. We pray for the witness of our Church and the ecumenical and interfaith witness we have with our brothers and sisters of different faiths.
 
On Friday, September 25, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in New York City at Madison Square Garden. In his homily, he reminded us of Christ’s presence in every city around the world.
 
He said: “Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope…A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city. Because God is in the city.”
 
We pray for peace on the streets of our cities and for justice. We pray for a powerful awareness, as our Holy Father says, of the presence of God as Jesus walks and carries His Cross through the wounded streets of our cities. Two years ago, on April 4, 2018, we commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I shared a Pastoral Letter “The Dream and Our Deepest, Truest Selves” which has been reposted on our DRVC.org (https://www.drvc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/TheDreamandOurDeepestTruestSelves.pdf) website. Little did we know as we prayed and prepared for that 50 year commemoration of Dr. King’s death how relevant it would be two years later.
 
Allow me to share a brief section of it: “With the help of God, whose love he preached so fervently, Dr. King’s sacrifice tipped the scales of human history and brought us closer to the fulfilment of a dream, one that recognizes the dignity of men and women of all races, one that recognizes that the sanctity of human life is the foundation of every human right, and one that recognizes the rich contributions and legacy of African Americans in our country.”
 
May each one of us stir the flame of Christ’s love and peace at every moment and in every situation in these painful and traumatic days.
 
 
June 5, 2020
 
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 5, 2020
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The mystery of the most Holy Trinity is the center of our Catholic faith. The Holy Trinity are three distinct Persons in one God, sharing the same Divine Nature, co-equal and co-eternal.  Each and every day the over 23,000 children in our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre begin their daily prayers in the Name of the Holy Trinity, and end it glorifying the Trinity through their actions.

During this time of uncertainty, our schools have been steadfast in educating their students and fulfilling their mission of fostering an environment of spiritual and intellectual growth by integrating Catholic tradition and faith throughout the educational process. They accomplish this by the promotion of the Gospel, formation in the Splendor of Truth of Catholic moral teaching, lifelong service, global sanctity of human life and social justice awareness, and academic excellence that prepares our students to be compassionate, as well as critical and creative thinkers, in an ever-changing society. As we look toward the future, it is our community that will ensure that our schools can continue their essential mission and serve as a catalyst for deepening the Catholic faith for our families.

To strengthen our schools, the Diocese of Rockville Centre has developed a bold plan for the revitalization of Catholic elementary education on Long Island – the Morning Star Initiative. In partnership with the Marianists, this initiative is being led by Brother Thomas Cleary, S.M., President of Chaminade High School. The Morning Star Initiative aims to position Catholic education for a bright future, with a community of strong and sustainable schools spread across Long Island. The Morning Star Initiative will focus on four pillars of success:

  1. Robustly Catholic Culture centered on the spiritual, intellectual, sacramental, and liturgical life of the Church.
  2. Safe and Supportive Community that recognizes the dignity of every person and promotes human flourishing in a familial atmosphere.
  3. Academic Excellence which fosters individual growth and development according to time-tested, Catholic Faith-based models of teaching and learning.
  4. Our Catholic Schools are Here to Stay.

To accomplish these four pillars, the Catholic Community Foundation of Long Island and the Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, have launched a fundraising effort that seeks to raise $10 million over the next 18 months to support the Morning Star Initiative. Right now, we have an increased need for scholarships and tuition assistance for students whose families are struggling with the impacts of the global pandemic. There is a great need for help to support schools’ financial sustainability and invest in the success of our teachers. Finally, there is an increased need for technology and supplies to help our teachers and leaders continue to innovate and meet the demands of the new ways of educating their students whether it is remotely or in the classroom. Information regarding this fundraising effort may be obtained by going to www.ccfliny.org

With your support, we can provide support for our schools and families as well as ensure the bright future for Catholic education. It has always been our commitment to keeping our Catholic faith alive for our students, and we will need the support of our entire Long Island Catholic community to make it happen.

Please know that you and your family are remembered in my daily prayers and Masses.      

                                                                        Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend John O. Barres

Bishop of Rockville Centre