SARF-Vicariate of USA Newsletter (January 2021)


New Year’s Greetings to all our brothers in the Province of St. Nicholas, our Secular Augustinian Recollects, Guild members, and the Hispanic Committee, as well as our parishioners at Sacred Heart Church!

Pre-Christmas activities. There was a visit by Santa Claus and his elves to Sacred Heart for several hours on the afternoon of December 18th for families passing through the parking lot with their children to greet Santa and to receive a sweet treat . . . A great number of Christmas gifts were donated and distributed to the residents of The Willows (Ramapo Manor) in Suffern, St. Joseph Home in Sloatsburg, Good Counsel Homes in Nanuet and Visitation Mission of the Srs. of Life in Manhattan (both for unwed mothers), as well as to the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal Youth Group and the Hispanic community of Sacred Heart. Food baskets were also distributed to families in need . . . Sacred Heart joined with parishes throughout the Archdiocese to offer the annual Advent Day of Reconciliation on December 21, hearing confessions from mid-afternoon through the evening hours to help our parishioners to prepare sacramentally for the coming celebration of Christmas.

Sacred Heart Church was brightened with a great many poinsettia plants, wreaths, and trees to celebrate Christmas, 2020
Organizing Christmas presents (l to r): Chris Schnabel, Frs. Eric Crelencia (kneeling) and Michael Rafferty, Patt Chester, Henry Antonucci, and Fr. John Gruben inspect all the presents stored in the conference room and sorted into piles for distribution
Drive Thru Santa: Fr. Michael (c) and Janis Batewell (CCD coordinator) join Santa and his elves in front of the former school gymnasium to welcome families passing by Sacred Heart with a Christmas greeting and candy canes on Friday, December 18

Christmas Day. In spite of continuing restrictions due to the pandemic and a strong rain and wind storm, the parish was able to celebrate Christmas Eve services in both English and Spanish as well as a Midnight Mass in the church, and five Masses on Christmas Day, while remaining within the safety limits for attendance set by the Archdiocese and the parish.

The Savior is Born! Frs. Eric, Michael, and John at the altar on Christmas after the final Mass of the day
Fr. John stands next to a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a gift from St. Zita’s Villa in Monsey, NY, which was placed in the gymnasium for the Feast and has remained for the Christmas season
We three kings: Fr. John (l) joins Miguel Lazo (Melchior), Silvestre Huesca (Balthazar), and Freddy Morales (Caspar) on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, January 3, 2021. Costumes for the kings were made a number of years ago for Tagaste Monastery by Dn. Ramiro Muñoz, OAR, and have definitely stood the test of time! After the Mass, Christmas presents were given to the children of the Hispanic community by “the Kings”

Missed celebrations. Due to the continuing effects of the pandemic, the community was not able to visit the Augustinian Recollect Sisters of Belvidere for our traditional post-Christmas celebration this past year. The friars of the eastern region have many happy memories of get-togethers with the Sisters who always prepared a wonderful lunch and plenty of fun with a Christmas sing-along, exchange of gifts, and clever tricks in remembrance of Holy Innocents! Our prayers for the Sisters during the New Year . . .  Also missed was our annual SAR Epiphany Potluck which gathered SAR members from Tagaste and West Orange as well as Guild members and friends of the community for a prayer service, lunch, carols, and storytelling. We look forward to resuming our monthly SAR meetings in the New Year.

Parish manager Chris Schnabel loads up Christmas presents to be delivered to residents of St. Joseph Home in Sloatsburg, New York
Sacristan Henry Antonucci, who does much of the Christmas decorating of the church, stands next to the Sacred Heart “Giving Tree” erected each year for parishioners to pledge a gift for someone in need

For all news about Sacred Heart Parish, Masses, Confessions, and special activities, please check our website:

Please pray for: Fr. John Oldfield, OAR, who is has been hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus and is in a weakened condition.

Fr. John Gruben, OAR
Theresa Giampaglia, SAR president
Connie Montanye, Guild president

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SARF-USA Correspondent

SARF-USA Correspondent