From the Bishop's Desk

MAY 18, 2017           
                 
Bishop inspired by faithful after first year as shepherd of diocese
When Pope Francis met with the Bishops of our country during his visit to the United States, he shared these words: “A pastor keeps watch first and foremost with prayer, supporting the faith of his people and instilling confidence in the Lord, in His presence. A pastor remains vigilant by helping people to lift their gaze at times of discouragement, frustration and failure. We might well ask whether in our pastoral ministry we are ready to ‘waste’ time with families. Whether we are ready to be present to them, sharing their difficulties and joys.”
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APR 6, 2017           
                 
During Holy Week, spend extra time with the Lord
A fourth century pilgrim nun from Spain, Egeria, visited the Holy Land and was in the Holy City of Jerusalem for Holy Week in 381 AD. Fortunately for us, she wrote her sisters at home about her visit and hence we have a wonderful record of how Holy Week was celebrated in the early Church. Since at least that time, we know that the faithful in Jerusalem observed Holy Week in a very similar way as we still do today, retracing the journey of Our Lord from the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday to the celebration of the Last Supper to His Passion of Good Friday, then remaining in vigil prayer for Easter, Our Lord’s resurrection.
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MAR 23, 2017           
                 
Share treasure of faith by inviting others to table of Lord
My recent pastoral letter included this encouragement: “Imagine if every person just affected one other person to consider Jesus again in their lives. Now is a time for holy boldness.” As we continue on our Lenten journey, I encourage you to think of people in need of an invitation to return to weekly Mass or to become a Catholic, then invite them. These can be members of our own family, co-workers, and classmates at school or people in our neighborhood. We are never too young or too old to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.
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MAR 2, 2017           
                 
Pastoral Letter: Lighting a fire in the heart of our world
This Pastoral Letter is a reflection on my pastoral visits to all 90 parishes within our diocese as well as visits to many Catholic schools, institutions and varied ministries and ethnic groups since I became your Shepherd last May. Based on my many conversations with clergy, religious and lay faithful during these months, it shares with you the priorities that emerged and which call for our attention as we go forward in this local Church of Metuchen. It is my hope and prayer that this Pastoral Letter will inspire you through the grace of the Holy Spirit to become kindling so together we can “set a fire in the heart of our world,” allowing God’s love and power to burn more brightly here in Central New Jersey. I look forward to further conversations and planning with you.
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FEB 23, 2017           
                 
A Lenten Message from Bishop James F. Checchio
Lent always seems to come around so quickly! March 1 is Ash Wednesday already, and hence we begin our 40-day Lenten journey once again. In his annual message to the faithful this year, Pope Francis reminds us that, during Lent, we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. At Mass on Ash Wednesday, in our first reading of the day, we will hear the prophet Joel beckoning us to “return to the Lord with our whole heart.” Indeed, we return again on Ash Wednesday each year to put our whole heart before the Lord. As our foreheads are marked with the sign of the cross, we ask Him, throughout each of the 40 days ahead of us, to remake our hearts to be more like His own.
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FEB 9, 2017           
                 
Together, let us pray to continue to work to respect all life
What a joy to join in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Nearly 15 busloads of our high school and college students, parish youth group members and parishioners left the four counties of our diocese to make the early morning pilgrimage to our nation’s capital.
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JAN 30, 2017           
                 
Statement of the Most Rev. James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen on the Jan. 27 executive order issuing a temporary ban on immigrants to the U.S.
When it comes to the treatment of immigrants and refugees, the Diocese of Metuchen remains committed to following the principals of the Gospel message as reflected in Catholic Social Teaching. As a faith community, we will continue to reach out to those in our local communities who are most in need and to serve our neighbors regardless of background, ethnicity, race or religion.
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JAN 26, 2017           
                 
Catholic Schools Week is time to thank God for ministry
We are so blessed as Catholics to have, as a part of our culture, many annual celebrations: memorials, feast days, solemnities and other opportunities to celebrate the beauty of our faith and the wisdom of the Church. I have found great joy and encouragement in sharing these experiences with you since my arrival. Together we also have many opportunities to praise, to give thanks and to remember all of the many ministries that are so vital to the people of God.
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JAN 12, 2017           
                 
Faithful encouraged to continue to support immigrants
Happy, healthy and holy New Year to you all. As I celebrated my first Christmas and New Year's in Central New Jersey, I was particularly mindful of all those who were in similar situations as newcomers here. Every New Year contains the possibility of great promise, and this year is no exception, even amidst any uncertainties we face in our lives, families, Church or nation. I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were uplifting and joyous for all. Indeed, a Savior has been born for us!
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DEC 15, 2016           
                 
Christ child should be the center of your Christmas
At Christmas one of the most faith-filled scenes that can be found in homes, churches, and communities throughout the world is the Nativity, a reminder that Christmas should be centered on the birth of Christ and Christ should be the center of our lives. It was St. Francis of Assisi, for whom our cathedral is named, who is credited with having created the first Nativity scene. He had a deep devotion to the Infant Jesus and on Christmas eve 1223 re-created the first live Nativity scene in a cave outside the town of Greccio, Italy.
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DEC 1, 2016           
                 
This Advent, foster faith in God with prayer, sacraments
We have truly had some unique blessings in these past weeks. At our diocese’s 35th anniversary celebration and pilgrimage on Nov. 20, we filled the 3,500 seat Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., to standing room only. It was an inspiring and uplifting day. Those of us who were able to make the pilgrimage carried with us many petitions from the faithful all across our diocese. I have no doubt, that as we honored Mary, our patroness, and gave praise to our loving Father for the blessings of these years, we in turn received abundant graces.
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NOV 17, 2016           
                 
As diocese celebrates its 35th anniversary, continue to believe in heaven
In the Church this month is a time when we try to remember to pray more often for our beloved dead, to visit their graves, and even attend Mass on All Souls Day, Nov. 2. Our readings at Sunday Masses throughout the month include many references to the end of the world, death and the after-life.  Our faithful, of course, believe when we die, life is not ended, but changed. We believe that our souls live on with God, as we find a resting place with him for all eternity. There is a comfortableness about heaven and death in our readings. No one seems afraid to die. 
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NOV 7, 2016           
                 
Pope appoints Cardinal-designate Joseph Tobin to lead Archdiocese of Newark
What wonderful news to welcome Cardinal-designate Joseph Tobin to New Jersey. His Eminence is extremely well-suited for his new responsibilities as shepherd of the Church of Newark. His priestly heart as well as his experience working as the Superior General of the Redemptorist and as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican make him a fitting choice to serve the faithful clergy, religious and laity of the beautiful Archdiocese of Newark.”
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OCT 20, 2016           
                 
Pope, Church resources offer sound advice for voters
In the midst of so much discouraging news about both of our presidential candidates, as I visited parishes and encountered our faithful in recent weeks, more and more people have asked me about the upcoming elections. “What do we do as neither candidate seems ideal? What is my responsibility regarding voting?”
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OCT 6, 2016           
                 
Be the Lord’s hands, feet to help create a culture of life
As we head in to October and begin "Respect Life Month," a time to particularly reflect on life issues and to pray for and promote greater respect for all human life at every stage and in every condition, the words of Pope Francis come to mind: "We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” Indeed, this year's theme is "Moved by Mercy."
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SEP 22, 2016           
                 
Meeting with St. Teresa of Kolkata left lasting impression
When I was studying in Rome, two people that I had the privilege of meeting on multiple occasions are now saints - St. John Paul II and now St. Teresa of Kolkata! On September 4, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, proclaimed Mother Teresa of Kolkata a saint, and she will henceforth be officially venerated as such. I say “officially” as so many throughout the world already regarded her as a saint. This was very evident at her beatification, which I had the honor of attending in Rome while I was serving at the North American College, America’s Seminary in the Vatican.
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SEP 8, 2016           
                 
May Year of Mercy inspire us to lives of service to needy
As I continue to make my rounds of the diocese, getting acquainted with you, I have been very impressed by the commitment to the faith I witness by all sorts of people, young and old, converts, reverts and cradle Catholics, clerics, religious and laity. One group I know we would all agree, are truly Christ’s disciple, are the permanent deacons who serve in our parishes. Recently, I had the opportunity to be with these deacons and their wives for a Mass and gathering at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.
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AUG 25, 2016           
                 
Bishop Checchio reflects on communications, The Catholic Spirit
One of the priests I used to work with was fond of telling his staff and other priests about communicating with one another in a parish or the diocese, “When you think you are communicating enough, you probably have to double your efforts.”  I think our Diocese has these words in mind, too. Communication is so important in our day.  How do we communicate well with one another? How do we get out the good news which our Diocese has to share amongst ourselves and with others?
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JUL 28, 2016           
                 
Catholic Charities’ works of mercy makes Christ’s love concrete
One of the blessings of living in Rome was to be able to hear the Holy Father preach and teach so often, and to witness his example, too. Many things he said inspired me and stayed with me. One particular saying of the Pope that really resonates with me says: “The sign that we truly have prayed, that we have had an encounter with Christ, is that we are there for others.”
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JUN 30, 2016           
                 
Recent events filled with blessings, reminders of work to be done
The past two weeks, since our last edition of The Catholic Spirit, have been filled with joyful events. Throughout these days, the final graduation ceremonies and Confirmations took place in our diocese and most of our schools closed for the summer. We had the last of our series of deanery Masses and receptions. 
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JUN 16, 2016           
                 
Graduations offer reminder of God's desire to be with us at all times
It has been an event-filled first month. Right after being ordained a bishop and installed as your new shepherd, I began to meet with the priests in each of our 10 deaneries. Their input was enlightening and encouraging. A Mass and reception was also held in each deanery. I was heartened by your enthusiastic welcome which was most appreciated. 
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MAY 26, 2016           
                 
Bishop grateful for kindness shown to him, seeks support, prayers
St. Paul often wrote these words to greet the faithful in the newly founded Christian communities of the early Church: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” As your new Shepherd, I happily borrow these words of the great evangelizer to greet you, my newfound Catholic friends of the Diocese of Metuchen. 
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