From the Pastor's Desk
As published in the September 12, 2021 Parish Bulletin
From the Pastor:
This week’s readings are almost overwhelming in their directness. “My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting” (Isaiah, first reading); “If (faith) does not have works, it is dead” (James, second reading); “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Gospel of Mark).
We cannot minimize the demands of the Scriptures and make faith something feel-good, counterfeit of the real things, but on the other hand, we cannot distort the message with shaming and guilt. This weeks’ texts are starkly simple and factual, bearing this message - “Discipleship is difficult.” Words are easy; deeds are hard. The path of a disciple always points to Calvary. Most of us know in our hearts these difficult truths and hearing them spoken despite a climate of feel-good chatter and cheap grace might actually be refreshing.
Our new mass schedule begins this weekend and I pray that we can all make the necessary adjustments. If we could remain stationary without change, our faith would have no meaning. Please know we are all doing the best we can to adapt to current circumstances.
Faith Formation Registration also begins this weekend. If you did not get a chance to do it in person at Immaculate Conception on Sunday, there will be time available on Monday. Beyond that, please reach out to the Faith Formation Office at 518-399-9210! Please keep our students, our catechists, and our Faith Formation and Youth Ministry team in your prayers as we begin a new chapter for our three parishes.
Until next week, be well, do good deeds, and say your prayers.
Above: Frank Slingerlands sanitizing the church
Left: The men behind the scenes for livestream Mass: (L to R): Paul Buckley, Bob Vielkind, Tom Bigos
If you would like to help with either of these ongoing efforts, please contact the Parish Office at 518-399-9168
Memories from our Roamin' Pastor (during his time in Rome in 2012)
April 10, 2012 - as published in the April 15th bulletin
From the roaming Pastor in Rome:
Holy Week at Vatican City was beautiful, as you can imagine, and there is a certain feeling of awe and mystery in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Palm Sunday, the celebration took place outside, in St. Peter’s Square, directly in front of the Vatican. Thousands of people, holding palm branches, were embraced in the arms of the semi-elliptical colonnades of the gathering space of the Vatican. On that picture perfect morning, there was a triumphant cry from the faithful as the Holy Father made his way into the square. It was a privilege to offer the Body Christ to many of those assembled for worship. As I walked through the crowd on a designated pathway and holding the Eucharist, I felt like I was walking through the opening of the Red Sea! Walls of people on each side!
During the liturgy, Pope Benedict reminded us of the message of Palm Sunday, which is: “invitation to adopt a proper outlook upon all humanity, on the people who make up the world, on its different cultures and civilizations. To look at all human kind with a wise and loving look, capable of grasping the world’s beauty and having compassion on its fragility. Shining through this look is God’s own look upon those he loves and upon Creation, the work of his hands.” What a different world we would live in if we practiced his humble words.
The Chrism Mass, the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper and Good Friday were all special as well. The two most moving for me were the sung Passion on Good Friday, and the reverent and humble adoration of the Cross by our Holy Father. Though the Passion was sung in Italian, every Christian knows the story, and the melody and the music moved me to tears. What a powerful, unforgettable and extraordinary time of prayer!
The Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s was so well executed. Five people were baptized into the faith. Imagine being baptized by our Holy Father! What an honor! My mind and heart kept returning to our community, I was thinking of Aquila and her daughter Kylie, who were baptized at the Easter Vigil at our Vigil.
While at St. Peter’s, I stood right next to the altar when our Holy Father prayed the Easter mass and I could see his every move and gesture; he is such a holy man. These are the kinds of experiences the sabbatical times has offered me, ones that have touched me deeply. This has been a time of great gift and grace; please know that all of your collective intentions were on my heart during this liturgy, as well as at many others.
Finally, the Holy Father’s concluding blessing, the Urbi et Orbi, (the traditional blessing, meaning ‘for the city and the world,’ issued from the second floor balcony of the Vatican) the blessing to the world, was received with tears and cheers by the hundred thousand plus faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. A powerful end to a magnificent week!
Today, Monday in the Octave of Easter, finds us on our final full week of sabbatical. We are now on a retreat week, in Assisi, the home of St. Francis and St. Clare. Once again, I will take all of your intentions with me as I walk and pray upon the holy ground of these familiar saints. I will be remembering in a special way those preparing for Confirmation and First Eucharist and their families.
Be well, good do deeds and say your prayers! Happy Easter to all of you! See you very soon!
As published in the Easter Bulletin
From the Pastor:
For the past few months, I have been living in the ancient city, the eternal city, Rome. For sure “modern” Rome as we know it, is ancient, but there have been many more ancient places, like Canaan, Jericho, Jerusalem, and so many other civilizations that have now turned to ruin and have become gold mines for anthropologists. Every civilization, Rome included, as great as it is, begins to dwindle, decay and eventually disappear. One has only to walk under the arches of Trastevere to see the elements taking their toll on the ancient stone buttresses. No city is “eternal” as we would perhaps like to think.
However as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Easter Sunday, we are reminded by St. Paul, that God’s city is not built by hands; it’s eternal in heaven (2COR. 5:1). In God we live forever. We are citizens of the ever new and eternal city! This is possible through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. So as Christians, today we celebrate our Resurrection our New Life!
Though we will spend Easter Day miles apart from each other, I am certain that we are united in the One True God and that our prayers will join together as one at the altar of the Lord. You can be certain that as I celebrate Holy Week and Easter with pilgrims from around the world here in Vatican City, my heart and my prayers will be with you. I would like to take a moment to thank our Trustees, Bill Larkin, Dan Sliva and Maryann Haskell for overseeing the parish during
my absence; to Fran Szpylcyn, Kathy Friscic and Deacon Mike Melanson for keeping the office and matters of the church running smoothly; to our great staff for their dedication and great
competency; to our Liturgy Committee for all their work with the liturgies of Holy Week; to all the priests who helped with the celebration of mass over the past few months; to our Easter guests who will pray with the Immaculate Conception Community today and to all of you who love and support our parish with your time, talent and treasure.
I look forward to being with all of you at the First Communion weekend masses, May 5 and 6. I am anxious to be at the place I call “home!”
Till then, be well, do good deeds and say your prayers!
Happy Easter! Fr. Jerry
March 28, 2012 - as published in the April 1st parish bulletin
From the roaming Pastor in Rome:
The week started on a wonderful note. I receive an envelope filled with farewell notes from our young brothers and sisters in Faith Formation. The precious cargo took over a month to arrive here in Rome. The notes were great and I read all of them over and over (reminding me that it’s getting time to come home!). Here are a few of the highlights from the kids: I wrote a poem: ‘ You go to Rome we’ll be so sad so stop reading this poem and have a good trip’; I hope meeting the Pope will be nice and that your guardian Angel will be there all the way; You are the golden cup of my days, miss you!; I have a joke for you: ‘what do you call a gorilla with bananas in its ears? You call it nothing because it can’t hear you!; and finally, a surprise note from my dog Grace. Thanks, kids….and Grace!
On Monday, I visited the small town of Orvieto and the main attraction there, the Duomo (Cathedral) and the Capella di San Brizio. The Cathedral is a dazzling triumph of Romanesque-Gothic architecture. It was built to commemorate a local miracle: a priest in the nearby town of Bolsena suddenly found himself assailed by doubt about the transubstantiation. He could not bring himself to believe that the body of Christ was contained in the consecrated communion hosts. His doubts were put to rest, however, when a piece of communion host he had just consecrated suddenly started to drip blood on to the corporeal (linen covering on the altar). The pope certified the miracle and declared a new religious holiday—the Feast of Corpus Christi.
We had wonderful classes this week with some renowned professors. Among them Donna Orsuto, from the Gregorian University who spoke about the Women Doctors of the Church, as well as about Edith Stein, Mother Teresa, and Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P., the Theologian of the Papal Household. I was afraid to ask a question! Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to celebrate mass at the tomb of St. Peter at the Vatican. What a moving experience it was to
actually touch his place of rest. After that mass at 7am, I celebrated mass at the tomb of John Paul II, with Fr. James Ebert who was in Rome with a group of people from his parish in Cohoes. I concelebrated and assisted Fr. James at mass. Fr. James was my altar server
many years ago at Immaculate Conception and now I felt like his altar server…at the Vatican no less!
Later in the week, I was asked by my Sabbatical Director to speak to the First Year Seminarians on “parish life and spirituality: a pastor’s view of the local church and all its many challenges.” How do you deal with that package in an hour’s time! I felt very privileged to
speak to the seminarians. Their questions following the talk were very interesting, challenging and required a good dose of humility and honesty to answer. I left the meeting realizing that the Church has some good men on the journey to priesthood!
On Saturday I visited the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino which sits majestically upon a mountain top overlooking the city of Cassino. Both St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica are buried in the crypt below the monastery. I was able to celebrate mass at the
tombs and as always, I prayed for all of you. The monastery was destroyed several times by wars and an earthquake and the last time the monastery was reduced to rubble was during World War II. The Americans thought the Germans were using the monastery as a main
post so they destroyed it. As it turned out, no Germans were in the monastery, just the monks and the civilians they were sheltering. One bomb hit the lower portion of the monastery, where the tombs are located, but miraculously enough, that bomb never exploded.
You will be reading this on Palm Sunday! I look forward to that great celebration at the Vatican along with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Till then, I will keep all of you and all your intentions close to my heart. I hope you will take the opportunity to experience and pray the beautiful days of Holy Week.
Till next time, be well, do good deeds and say your prayers!
March 20, 2012
From the Pastor:
One of the greatest lessons of Lent is: “if we are going to love as Jesus loved, we must first come to terms with suffering”. +Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, “The Gift of Peace.” I was reminded of these words when I visited Auschwitz, last Monday. It was a very dark and dismal day, perhaps the climate was appropriate for my experience at Auschwitz. Suffering was all around: it still harbored in the corners; it still lingered in the air; it still hung overhead like a cloud about to burst open with tears.
Standing on the rails that led into the camp but not out, I could only think of the people torn from their homes, separated from their loved ones, being treated worse than cattle, forced to work under the harshest of conditions, denied food, water, respect and dignity: a suffering unknown to most of us. These innocents, young and old, and all the innocent in between, had to let go of everything and everyone, and place themselves in the hands of God. They experienced the suffering of the martyrs, the suffering of Jesus.
How is it possible that this torture of humankind could have happened? How could humans inflict such immense violence upon other humans? My experience at Auschwitz made me sad. It made me shake my head in disbelief. It made me struggle with what it means to come to terms with suffering. Seeing a room filled with human hair; a room filled with shoes once worn by regular people; suitcases bearing the names of people who thought they would be reunited with their few precious possessions; touching the cold steel that pushed the remains of the dead into the fiery furnace, made me fight to come to terms with suffering --- imposed, cruel, and senseless suffering. If such treatment could be done against the Son of God, Jesus, then it is no surprise that such suffering could be done to us. But in the end, I’ve come to realize, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
In the end, justice triumphs and God always wins. So do those who place themselves in the compassionate hands of God. My experience at Auschwitz also made me grapple with the words of the Prophet Jeremiah in today’s first reading: “I will forgive their evildoing and
remember their sin no more.” This foreshadows the final words of Jesus before he died. Perhaps the tragedy of Auschwitz offers all of us a fitting Lenten meditation.
On Tuesday, I headed for the Shrine of Our Lady of Czstochowa, two hours out of Krakow. The shrine is located on a massive plot of land, but the actual church building was surprisingly small. Pilgrims from around the world come to this holy place in search of healing, both physically, and spiritually. The image of Our Lady, said to be painted by St. Luke, was stunning. Her eyes, however, seemed so sad. I could only imagine what she was thinking as she looks at her children who come to her broken and needy. The image of Mary is in the sanctuary above the main altar in the chapel, next to the main church. You approach the image on your knees and continue on your knees around the entire sanctuary on the stone floor. I was in agony by the time I was able to stand up! I was able to concelebrate mass with a Polish bishop in a chapel filled with pilgrims. I managed to sit in the front row, ten feet from the image of Mary. I was thrilled! I felt so blessed to be so close to such a famous piece of art and history; to be in fact, so close to the Mother of God. I thought of all of you during that mass, and I prayed for all your intentions. I also prayed for the intentions of so many of our parish who have recently gone home to God and for their loved ones who mourn them so.
On Wednesday, I traveled the Steps of Blessed John Paul II. We visited his home, where he was raised by his father, (his mother died very young) and saw the church of his baptism, a church where he served as an altar server for many years. The house was about ten feet
from the church!
On our pilgrimage we visited the convent of St. Faustina, whose vision of Jesus as the image of Divine Mercy has become known throughout the world. We saw the room where she died, the reliquary that bears her precious remains, and the huge modern Church that warmly welcomes pilgrims throughout the year. Once again, I thought of all of you (especially those of you who have a great devotion to Divine Mercy) as I knelt before the altar. Krakow is a beautiful city, especially Old Town. The square in Old Town, surrounded by magnificent and ancient buildings is breathtaking. Somehow the pace of life seemed less hectic there compared to here in Rome. By the way, the shops were wonderful! I had a good time window shopping! Jewelry, made of amber, (natural to the region from the Baltic Sea), was in just about every window. So once again, it has been a wonderful and exciting week and I consider myself blessed for the opportunity to be here in Europe. As I keep all of you in my prayers every day, I ask humbly that you keep me in yours as well.
Till next time, be well, do good deeds and say your prayers!
March 14, 2012
From the Pastor:
Last week we continued with our classes and the study of St. Paul, especially his letter to Philemon. It has been some time since I focused on St. Paul as I mostly focus on the gospel for my weekend reflections. I also had the opportunity to spend two days in Florence and to see the Duomo of Florence and the beautiful church of Santa Croche. I spent some quality time in these holy places praying for the needs of the people of our community and for the Immaculate Conception staff. I came across two blood sisters and to make a long story short, they got me a place to stay the night....at a bed and breakfast run by the sisters of Dell'Assunzione. My room was huge with five tiny twin beds. I felt I was sleeping with the ghosts of sisters past. In the morning I celebrated mass with the sisters and a young Assumption priest who is originally from the Congo; it was a wonderful experience. At that mass I remembered our homebound and sick
especially. Florence was beautiful and I especially enjoyed just walking the streets and appreciating the culture and the sights.
Sunday I was up at 3 am and out to the airport by 4:30 to leave for Poland. The flight was turbulent, with people crying and coffee flying all over the place. Fortunately, we landed safely and on time in Krakow. I walked the city most of the day enjoying a traditional Polish meal for dinner. I managed to see many churches and even celebrated Benediction with a church filled with people. It was very moving. Again, the city of Krakow is breathtaking. Clean, filled with squares and gathering places and many wonderful shops and restaurants. Shortly I will be on my way with another priest from the North American college to see more of the city. We hope to visit Auschwitz, the Shrine of our Lady of Czstochowa, walk the path of Blessed Pope
John Paul II, learn the history of St. Faustina, and visit the local churches. Of course, I will do some shopping along the way. As I promised, I will take all of your intentions with me as I journey through this historic land.
I understand that Immaculate Conception had many funerals last week. I remembered all these holy souls at my masses in Rome. I am also aware that the Amazing God Program is very successful and prayerful and educational. I also hear that the annual Wednesday Lenten Lunch is once again a great success as is the Knights of Columbus Friday Fish Fry! You don't need me to come home! You are doing great on your own with the guidance of our great staff!!!
Till next time, be well, do good deeds and say your prayers. I will continue to pray for you here in Europe.
From a weekend in Milan and Switzerland
A Letter from Rome - February 15, 2012
Greetings to all of you from Vatican City, Rome. I am already beginning week three in Rome and during this time I have walked many miles and seen many beautiful things. Much to my surprise, the weather has been cold and more snow has fallen here than in Glenville, NY! Weather predictions for next week promise warmer weather.
We are 28 priests from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia gathered here on Sabbatical. The Sabbatical officially began with mass next to the crypt of St. Peter at the Vatican. As we passed the crypt of the Apostle Peter, we all paused and prayed the Creed. That was a very powerful moment as we were all standing as ministers of the church formed by Peter for which he gave his life. At our first mass, I remembered all of your intentions as I promised. Last Wednesday we all attended Formal Vespers at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI and about six thousand other pilgrims! I did get to see the Holy Father close up as he made his way down the aisle. The pilgrims cheered him and yelled his name as he waved to them along the way.
Normally our day begins here at the college with a concelebrated mass. (I’m told there was a picture of our chapel it in the Feb. 5 bulletin - also see below) Classes consist of lectures on the Roman Missal, Preaching with the Scriptures, Discipleship and more. We had a private tour of the Vatican Museum and the exterior Vatican architecture. Fascinating and moving is all I can say. It’s like living in a history book.
Today six of us here on Sabbatical went to the English Seminary for mass. It was another wonderful experience and another wonderful historic church. The remains of St. Thomas of Canterbury, along with young seminarian martyrs, are resting under the altar. From there we walked to the historic area of Trastevere, where, along the way, we saw the Church of St. Brigit, St. Bartholomew and the Basilica of Santa Maria. We returned to Santa Maria in Trastevere for sung Evening Vespers in the early evening. It was beautiful and very prayerful. Again, as I promised, I brought all of your intentions before the Lord and his Blessed Mother to the Basilica of Santa Maria.
That’s the news from Rome. I think of all of you so often and pray that you are well.
Till next time, be well, say your prayers and do good deeds!
Chapel in Casa O'Toole
While studying in Rome. Fr. Jerry will be staying at Casa O'Toole, the residence for priests attending the Pontifical North American College. Above is a picture of the Chapel in Casa O'Toole.
Meet our Pastor
Rev. Jerome R. Gingras
In the words of Fr. Jerry...
"I am privileged to be allowed to enter into the lives and hearts of people, and to offer them consolation, share in their joy, and walk with them on their journey. Also, as a priest, I am humbled to provide the Eucharist for my people each week, and to offer the Lord's sacraments to them."
Fr. Jerry can be reached at the Parish Office by calling (518) 399-9168 or via email