Dear Members of the Church of Saint Justin the Martyr,

Thank you for all your concern and prayers for one another and for me and Father Dan during this difficult time of the Coronavirus. Please be assured that Father Dan and I are keeping you and your loved ones in our prayers and not only are you in our prayers, you are also in the prayers and concerns of Bishop O’Connell, who has asked us Pastors to assure you that we are doing all we can to keep everyone as safe as possible. The cancellation of public Masses until further notice has been most challenging for all of us. As much as you miss coming to Church, we miss seeing you and offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. As a priest, it is very difficult not to celebrate Holy Mass and the beautiful Easter liturgies with our parish community. Although we are not celebrating Mass with you, we are celebrating Mass for you and your families. Father Dan and I are offering Mass each day for you and the Mass intentions. These intentions are posted in the bulletin which you can get on our website at www.stjustin.org.

Since you are unable to attend Mass, it is important that you make a spiritual communion in some other way. This may include watching a livestream of the Mass on television or the internet. You may decide to pray the rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours. For a list of parishes in our diocese that livestream the Mass, please visit the website of our diocesan newspaper at https://trentonmonitor.com/Content/News/Latest-News/Article/Local-parishes-televise-livestream-Masses/4/38/22775

Of course, EWTN has always been a source of good Catholic programing. Please see the schedule for the Mass on EWTN: https://www.ewtn.com/tv/schedule. You can also watch the Mass on EWTN: https://www.ewtn.com/tv/watch-live.

Another excellent source is the website of “Word Among Us” (www.wau.org). The Word Among Us, with the help of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has graciously provided complimentary access to the daily Mass readings as well as a reflection on the readings and their entire website to help people pray from home. The USCCB website can be found at www.usccb.org.While no one knows what the future holds, and as many have said, we did not even imagine what disciplines and sacrifices this Lent would demand of us – we still look forward to a joy-filled Easter. We know that Our Lord is with us through this global, national and state pandemic. As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, we must remember that Our Lord sacrificed Himself for us, and He does not abandon us in our need. Lent reminds us of this and draws us closer to Him through our own sacrificial practices. His love and protections of His Holy Church will continue.

Needless to say, the parish will be facing financial setbacks in the days ahead. Your sacrificial giving is of great importance. Although we cannot celebrate public liturgies, and Parish and Religious Education events have been cancelled, all of our expenses are still the same, much of our work goes on behind the scenes.  I ask your help in this difficult time.

Offerings can be mailed to the church: St. Justin the Martyr, 975 Fischer Blvd. Toms River, NJ 08753. Please consider making your online offertory for our parish thru the Diocese that has now created a “Pass the Basket” link for online giving to our parish along with the Diocese of Trenton’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Please go to this link to contribute to St. Justin Parish:
https://dioceseoftrenton.org/covid-19-emergency-fund.  I thank those who have already mailed in their sacrificial offerings or have dropped off their contributions in the hopper that was previously located in the Church when the building was open.

For those who have children in Religious Education: ALL CHILD-BASED EVENTS [Classes, Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW) & Breakfast with the Easter Bunny] are cancelled. As of now, we do not know the dates and times for First Holy Communions and Confirmation. We have to wait until we are told by Church and civil authorities that it is safe to reopen. I urge parents to continue working with your children from their text books. A chapter a week would be fine. As your child grows in the faith, you will also be refreshed in the faith.

We will communicate any updates regarding the parish and the Religious Education Program via our website [www.stjustin.org], our bulletin is also on line at www.stjustin.org,  and on phone messages (732-270-3980). As you recall, we were in the process of collecting email addresses so that we would be able to communicate with you via blast emails. Unfortunately, this process was not completed before this pandemic hit. We will work on this avenue of communication when things return to normal.

Last week, I took a walk in Cattus Island County Park. What a beautiful gift of nature right in our own backyard. As I saw nature coming alive again, I was reminded of the Easter message that out of death comes life. Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday. I wrote some thoughts entitled “Hope in troubled times” which are posted on the website along with a picture of daffodils in bloom. Things will come back. We must put our trust in God. We pray for the day when our Country (and our world) can return to normalcy and we can all live our lives without fear or inconvenience. I am confident that America will overcome the coronavirus crisis and come out stronger and better as a result. But that will only come about if we individually and as a nation acknowledge our dependence on God and turn to Him. We are people of faith, and, as Psalm 23 reminds us, though we may walk through the valley of death, we should fear no evil, for the Lord is with us.

I have been urging people to read 2 Chronicles 7: 14 which reads:
“If then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.” In many ways, our nation has forgotten God. We must remember that He is always here to heal, to forgive and to love. Let us turn to Him during these very unsettling, uncharted times.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have offered us many “Resources for Families, Parishes and Dioceses during the COVID-19 Crisis” on their website:: http://www.usccb.org/about/communications/covid-19-crisis-resources-from-catholic-publishers.cfm
In closing, let us pray for all of those who have died, all of those affected by the virus, all health care workers who risk their own lives caring for the sick, for all essential workers, for our president, governor and mayor, and we pray that a resolution soon may be found. During times such as these, we are called to trust in God’s will, but we are also called to do our part in order to keep ourselves and our brothers and sisters safe by taking practical steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. God bless you all!

In Christ,
Reverend Mark A. Kreder