SARF-Vicariate of the USA Newsletter (April 2021)


Easter 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!

Following the new directives of the Archdiocese of New York (March 5, 2021), Sacred Heart Parish was able to expand the allowed seating capacity in the church as well as decrease the social distancing requirements for Holy Week 2021. Palms were once again distributed for Palm Sunday on March 28 as the number of attendees at Mass began to increase.

Fr. Michael Rafferty, assisted by Fr. Eric Crelencia, presided the Holy Thursday liturgy, and, although the customary Washing of the Feet ceremony had to be omitted, there was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the conclusion of the service with a repository set up in the gymnasium for the usual evening vigil. The Good Friday liturgy was celebrated in both English (3:00 pm, presided by Fr. Michael) and Spanish (7:30 pm, presided by Fr. Eric) and, in place of the traditional live Passion Play, a large Cross was set up in the parking lot for veneration.

Parishioners drove by in their cars or stopped for a few minutes of prayer before the Cross. Fr. John Gruben led the Stations of the Cross between the two Good Friday liturgies. Tenebrae services were held each morning during the Paschal Triduum with the parish musicians singing the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah. All Holy Week services were also available streaming on the parish website.

Ecce Lignum Crucis: Parish Manager Christine Schnabel (l) holds the Cross while parishioners stop by for prayer following the Good Friday liturgy.

The Easter Vigil service began at 8:00 pm on Saturday, April 3, with the Blessing of the New Fire and procession with the Paschal Candle from the entrance of the church to the sanctuary. Due to ongoing pandemic regulations, individual tapers were not given to the congregation this year. Fr. John presided and preached at the liturgy and Fr. Michael sang the Exultet and administered the Sacraments of Initiation. There were just three RCIA candidates this year with one receiving all the Sacraments and the other two receiving only Confirmation.

Sacraments of Initiation: Newly confirmed candidates stand with Fr. John Gruben (rear): Olivia Schoffelen, Michael Borer, and Zachary Pearlman, with sponsors Joseph Solimando (l) and Daniel Liddy.
Fr. Michael Rafferty, pastor of Sacred Heart, baptizes Zachary Pearlman witnessed by sponsor Daniel Liddy (r) at the Easter Vigil.

Divine Mercy Sunday. An afternoon service was held in the gymnasium on Sunday, April 11, with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, chanting of the Divine Mercy chaplet and recitation of the litany, and a meditation on Thomas the Apostle (the “doubting” Thomas of today’s Gospel). Fr. John presided at the service while Fr. Eric heard Confessions. About 45 people braved the very rainy weather to attend the service which closed with Benediction. At the same time Fr. Michael was in the church, presiding at the wedding of Patricia Murphy, niece of the late Fr. Edward Fagan, OAR.

“Jesus, I trust in you!” Parishioners Bill Fisher and Jean Bolton stand before image of Divine Mercy with Fr. John Gruben for an afternoon service on Divine Mercy Sunday.

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

Into Eternal Life:

Many Recollect friars and other community members will remember Mary Louise (“Mary Lou”) Napolitano, sister of Frs. John and Thomas Oldfield, OAR, who died on March 29, 2021. She was 80 years old. Fr. Michael conducted a prayer service for the vigil at Scarr Funeral Home in Suffern, and Fr. John presided and preached at the Funeral Mass at Sacred Heart on April 7. Burial took place at Maryrest Cemetery in Mahwah, New Jersey. Mary Lou had been a member of the Pius X Guild of Tagaste Monastery and was present over the years for many activities at Tagaste and Sacred Heart. Our prayers for Mary Lou, her husband Vincent Napolitano, and the rest of the family.

Easter transformation: Although a series of late winter storms buried the monastery  in a great deal of snow, by Divine Mercy Sunday the colors of spring had once again emerged. The tulip tree on the front lawn, badly damaged in a storm about ten years ago, has come back in all its beauty.
Resurrexit sicut dixet: Alleluia! Statue of the risen Christ in  the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church.
Easter, 2021: Sanctuary of Sacred Heart decorated for the Easter Season.

*For ongoing information about parish activities, please consult our online bulletin at

Fr. John (r) calls candidates for reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, April 3, 2021. This year’s Vigil was the first to incorporate bilingual elements into the liturgy to bring the English and Hispanic communities of Sacred Heart together for this central celebration of our faith.

*We have just received a communication from Fr. Eliseo Gonzalez, OAR, about a new webpage with a great deal of interesting information about Venerable Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR. To access this webpage please go to

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SARF-USA Correspondent

SARF-USA Correspondent