The deacons got ashes

With Deacon Bill McNamara, my classmate and the DRE at my parish.   [Read more...]

“How to Build an Awesome Altar Serving Program in 10 Easy Steps”

People who visit The Bench regularly know that I never tire of gushing about my parish’s altar servers. We have about 140 of them, boys and girls, aged 9-22.  As I’ve posted pictures and sung their praises, readers have asked repeatedly, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” Well, after much prodding, the moderator [Read More...]

How I spent Epiphany Sunday

I spent part of the day with these guys: Our 11:30 Mass included the presentation of gifts by the magi, and a lovely procession of altar servers, carrying candles and torches. Our administrator, Fr. Frank Passenant, also began the liturgy with an old tradition: blessing chalk, and then scrawling the date above the entry to [Read More...]

“What is a parish?”: a homily for September 15, 2013

Today, traditionally the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, is also my parish’s feast day. Late yesterday, the parish administrator said, “You wanna throw together a few words for the 11:30 Mass?”  Okay, I said.  Here they are.  Yesterday, as I do every month, I met with families to schedule baptisms. And I’m always surprised [Read More...]

In Queens this afternoon…

Msgr. Funaro had a great devotion to his patron, St. Joseph.   The prayer on the back of the card: Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful [Read More...]

Requiescat in pace

Lord God, You chose our brother Joseph to serve your people as a priest and to share the joys and burdens of their lives. Look with mercy on him and give him the reward of his labors, the fullness of life promised to those who preach your holy Gospel. We ask this through Christ our [Read More...]

When a priest dies

Since this is a subject my parish is now facing, I thought I’d share some details about traditions and customs surrounding the funeral of a priest. Fr. Joshua Janko blogged about this a few years ago: What are some of the traditional practices that accompany a priest when they die? Well, I should first start [Read More...]

Rest in peace, Msgr. Joseph Funaro

Yesterday, I asked for prayers for my pastor emeritus, Msgr. Joseph Funaro. Early this morning, his earthly journey came to an end.  He was 76. O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, Joseph, to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal [Read More...]

A prayer for Joe Funaro

Msgr. Funaro, seated, with the parish clergy, just before Midnight Mass 2012.  My pastor emeritus, Msgr. Joseph Funaro, is gravely ill.  Please whisper a prayer for him and all who love him. He mentored me through diaconate formation, and helped make me the deacon I am today. Across the years, he has been a gracious [Read More...]

“Nothing short of a miracle”: mystery priest appears at crash site

You never see stories like this in the mainstream media, but here’s one from Missouri this week: Rescue workers want to thank a higher power for coming to the rescue early Sunday morning. Emergency crews spent an hour and a half trying to extricate a 19-year-old Quincy woman trapped in her in crushed car on [Read More...]


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