New Jersey parishes honor dads on Father's Day
By Michael Wojcik

.- Honoring dads on Father's Day this Sunday, June 19 will be done in a variety of ways at parishes across the Diocese of Paterson, N.J.

Following is a sampling of what a few parishes will do to honor fathers on their day.

At Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, parishioners revel in "re-gifting" new, unused items that they do not want or will never use to men in great need during the parish's "Re-Gifts for Men" collection drive for Father's Day. The faithful have donated new shirts, mugs and slippers - in gift bags ready for giving - for men, who are poor, homeless, addicted or otherwise down on their luck, who have sought help from local social service agencies, including those run by the Paterson diocese, said Dorene Edie, who coordinates the "re-gifting" drive now in its third year.

"These men (who receive the gifts) are not expecting to get anything for Father's Day. Most of these men are estranged from families so we try to remember those men who have been forgotten," Edie said.

Some parishes plan to honor living and deceased dads in traditional ways - such as with spiritual bouquets and special Masses - but IHM represents a one of several faith communities that have been looking beyond celebrating their own fathers to remembering other fathers...and mothers. Two parishes, St. Rose of Lima, East Hanover, and St. Anthony, Hawthorne, raise money for pro-life activities and assistance to unwed mothers - all in the name of their own fathers, as well as the merciful example of God, the Father.

At IHM, the "Re-Gifts for Men" for Father's Day arrives just weeks after the Passaic County parish's re-gifting for women for Mother's Day. An assortment of parishioners; members of community at DePaul Catholic High School, also in Wayne; and other locals donated about 250 items for women in need, more than the 20 or so items collected for the men. Women had received clothing; shoes; accessories, such as bracelets; and "nice gifts" of high quality, such as Coach pocketbooks and Swarovski jewelry, Edie said.

"The items are stuff that's in style," said Edie, who noted that IHM also holds an items drive for Christmas.

In response, IHM often receives heart-felt "thank-you" notes from the social-service agencies that receive the donations. In the past, these organizations have included Straight & Narrow, a diocesan substance-abuse treatment center, Eva's Shelter and the Child Life Program of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, all in Paterson; Several Sources, which serves unwed mothers in Bergen County; and the federal Women, Infants and Children food assistance, health care and nutrition program, Edie said.

St. Rose is all about the baby bottles for its annual Father's Day fund-raiser, organized by the parish's Respect Life Ministry. On Mother's Day, parishioners picked up the 400 available baby bottles and returned them, filled with monetary donations of coins, bills or checks, to the church on Father's Day. Donations provide free bus transportation in January for the annual March for Life in Washington or Trenton and support crisis pregnancy centers and invited guest speakers, said Anne Marie Gillespie, coordinator of the six-year-old drive.

"We remember the mothers, but we want to remember the fathers too," said Gillespie, who recalled, when a woman donated some money left behind in a house that she purchased, remembering when she struggled as a single mother. "Some families fill up multiple bottles. The kids take their own bottles to fill. It's lovely," she said.

Likewise, St. Anthony's carries on its Baby Bottle Campaign to support Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center. They also fill the bottles with coins, cash and checks, made payable to Lighthouse PRC of Hawthorne and Hackensack, and place them in one of the collection bins in the church on or before Father's Day. They also keep the left portion of the bottle wrapper as a reminder to pray for Lighthouse, according to St. Anthony's bulletin.

At St. Simon the Apostle Parish, Green Pond, parishioners are honoring their living and deceased fathers in a traditional and spiritual manner - by filling out an envelope, requesting to have them remembered at one of the Masses celebrated Father's Day weekend. These special Masses are "a way to express your gratitude to dad," St. Simon's bulletin states.

Our Lady of the Holy Angels Parish, Little Falls, continues its Father's Day tradition of placing the dads' names in a Spiritual Bouquet Book, placed in an alcove of the church during June and July. Parishioners pick up a bouquet packet - with a request form envelope and a fitting Father's Day card for their own father or the family. Then they return the envelopes in the collection baskets or drop them off at the parish ministry center by June 17, said Beverly Cuccinelli, Holy Angel's finance/office manager.

Then Cuccinelli writes in the Spiritual Bouquet Book the names of the honored fathers, who will be remembered during Masses in June. Typically, the 20-page book lists intensions for about 200 fathers, she said.

"Parishioners who make requests often flip through the Spiritual Bouquet Book before and after Mass, looking for the names of their fathers," Cuccinelli said. "It's really important to them."

Printed with permission from the Diocese of Paterson, N.J.

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