A Letter from our Pastor-1.11.22

January 11, 2021

Dear friends,

Just recently I received a request from a parishioner asking me to institute a segregated seating section in the Parish Church for non-masked congregants at Mass.

I would refer you to this parish website further down where you will find a letter from me with regard to the latest decree from NYS government on masking. It contains our official Diocesan policy in this regard.  It clearly indicates that it is not my or any other private citizen’s responsibility to enforce this regulation. I have instructed the Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers to sanitize their hands and wear masks for the distribution of Holy Communion for the time being, which is within my responsibility and authority as pastor.

For the rest, it is up to each of us to decide how we will live our lives in this extraordinary time. We might ask ourselves:

Am I especially vulnerable?

Even though I wear a mask, does the fact that someone at well more than six feet away is unmasked constitute a threat to my health?

Is my scratchy throat, runny nose, body aches, etc. my usual winter cold, or is it the latest variant of the Covid virus?

Shall I wear a mask indoors or not?

Should I do so just out of regard in charity for those whom we might regard as St. Paul termed our “weaker brethren”?

The questions can go on ad infinitum I suppose.

You can only answer them for yourself, and where applicable, your family.

I can tell you with charity and respect that if anyone feels that the current situation warrants one avoiding crowds in church, the Church’s law clearly holds one legitimately excused. This definitely also applies to those who are especially sick who can be said to have a duty to stay home for the duration of their illness.

There may even be the necessity if priests become sick to cancel or reschedule Masses and other normal pastoral or sacramental functions.

As always, let us pray for each other!
Father Hewes


Letter from the Pastor, Sept. 2020

September 21, 2020

Feast of St. Matthew

Dear friends,

I thought I’d just give you some updates as to our current situation in the Parish on this our Patron Saint’s feast day.

We have opened  the pews to 50% capacity. This additional space can make social distancing a bit more spacious and less inhibiting.

The wearing of masks is still required when in the pews during Mass and other services.

Sunday the 20th marked the resumption of a fuller musical program at Sunday Mass. The English “High Mass” resumed every Sunday at 11 AM and the other Masses with music resume the singing of the “Gloria”.

As of this writing, the 12:30 PM Mass on Sunday is the traditional Latin “Missa Cantata” or sung Mass. The next date is Sunday, September 27th. Continue reading “Letter from the Pastor, Sept. 2020”


Letter from the Pastor, Aug, 2020

August, 2020

Dear friends,

As we near the end of the summer I hope all of you are finding at least some respite from the stress of the past four months.

As you know, the Parish has resumed the regular celebration of Sunday Mass for some weeks now, albeit with restrictions as to occupancy, social distance, and the wearing of masks.

Attendance at Mass has been noticeably lower than before March, and Covid (as we are told) is still active and poses continuing health concerns. This, and a normal summer variance, has significantly impacted the spiritual and temporal state of the Parish.

August 31st marks the end of our Diocesan Fiscal Year and St. Matthew’s, like all other parishes, must submit a proposed budget to the Diocese for FY 2020-2021.

After detailed analysis of the Parish’s fiscal state and current income, I must tell you that we are looking at a projected operating budget deficit of $200, 000 for the coming Fiscal Year.  There has been a 30% decline in collections since the Covid shutdown.

Some of this shortfall can be made good by using already earmarked funds, but the deficit will still loom large. Your generosity over the past half-century and more of this Parish’s existence has given us reserves that can help in a “rainy day”. However, this has been a long “rainy day” and it seems it’s not over yet.

The image of “eating one’s seed corn” comes to mind. There are only so many budget cuts we can make.

I am very mindful that many of you have also experienced financial and employment worries. Yet I would be remiss in my duties if I did not bring this situation to your attention.

Would you be able to contribute a special gift to St. Matthew’s Parish today?

Anything you give is deeply appreciated and would enable us to face the financial future with a reasonable confidence.

You may mail in, or drop off your gift in the collection basket in church. Or, you may use Faith Direct Online Giving. The information on that service is on the website and bulletin.

As I write this, I’ve paused and asked the Holy Spirit and our good patron St. Matthew, as well as Saint Joseph, two Saints who managed the demands of holiness and who managed human and practical concerns of the Church and the Holy Family, to aid us by their intercession.

With my prayers and gratitude,

Father Robert Hewes


Getting a Mass Card

Getting a Mass Card

One of the most characteristic features of the Catholic “way of death” is to bring a “Mass Card” to the Wake or to send one to a bereaved family on the occasion of the death of a loved one.

We speak of the “Mass Book” being open for people to “get Masses said” for their deceased or living family members.

At almost every Mass the name or names of the” Mass Intentions” are announced.


What does this mean?


First, it is rooted in the theology of the Mass as the representation of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross on Good Friday. As our theology matured over the centuries this was often described as the one Sacrifice of Himself offered by Christ in a “bloody manner” on the Cross once and for all; and the Mass as an “unbloody” Sacrifice that renews or “re-presents” the Cross for us in our churches until the end of time.

It is important to bear in mind that from the earliest writings we have from the New Testament itself to the “infant Church” the Eucharist is always described in sacrificial language. The Eucharistic Liturgy is seen as making the Sacrifice of Christ present under the outward forms of bread and wine, transformed by the Lord’s own words into His Body and Blood.

The Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered by the Lord through the consecrated ministry of the apostolic priesthood.

Catholic theology discerned what were termed “fruits of the Mass” as

“the spiritual and temporal blessings obtained through the Eucharistic sacrifice. The general fruits of the Mass are applied to the whole Church, in which all the faithful share, both the living and the dead. The special fruits are applied first to the priest who celebrates Mass, then to those for whom he offers it, and finally to those who participate in the Eucharistic liturgy”


The Mass Card represents that a Mass will be offered either at a set date or time, or at an unspecified date, for a named person or intention by a priest who will apply his ministerial intention or fruit to the intention of the donor.

The donor offers a “Stipend” or donation to the priest for his sustenance and prayers. A long-standing axiom in the Church is that the priest should off the altar.

This is most often arranged through the parish office.


Another important point can be put this way: “God-ward” the fruits of the Mass are infinite in that the Mass is Christ’s own offering of Himself to the Father in an unbloody manner by the hands of the priest for the redemption of the world. However, “us-ward”, our capacity to benefit from the fruits of the Mass is limited by our finite ability to receive these benefits and by the actual or residual effects of our sins as well as the passage of time. Hence Masses are offered again and again till the end of time.


Most Masses are offered in, practice for the deceased.

This again is seen in ancient Christian practice from the earliest days that in some fashion the dead can benefit from the offering of the Mass. They are still bound to us on earth, and to the Saints in Heaven, by the communio sanctorum. This Latin phrase from the Creeds is often translated as the “Communion of Saints” but can literally mean the “sharing of holy things”.

As with any human person, the ability to benefit from the fruits of the Mass is conditional upon the faith and devotion of the person and many Masses are often offered for the same person as a help to their final salvation.


Father Hewes







A man’s gotta know his limitations….

A man’s gotta’ know his limitations…

 The words above, taken from a movie, were spoken to me last November as I sat in a dentist’s chair with a throbbing and aching wisdom tooth.

The dentist who said them was compassionate and professional as he explained to me that this particular tooth was different from most and he did not feel quite comfortable at taking the responsibility of extracting it. He recommended a specialist who subsequently did the job competently, confidently, and painlessly.

I was grateful to that dentist for his honesty and genuine care in not subjecting me to a procedure of which he did not feel himself completely confident.

His words got me thinking.

There was a long-standing impression among many Catholics that the parish priest was omnicompetent in all matters: theological, doctrinal, liturgical, canonical, social, and psychological.

There are occasions when I am asked to intervene in delicate and already painfully inflamed family or marital situations usually along the lines of talking to a spouse or family member to presumably solve a long-running issue or to “straighten them out.”

I have to tell you what that dentist told me last year. A man has to know his limitations.

40 years of practice as a parish priest have taught me what I believe to be my strengths, and, sometimes painfully, what are not my strengths.

Ask me questions that have answers and I’m fine. Ask me about matters theological, historical, liturgical, sacramental, educational, and possible programs and setting policies, and I’m fine.

I can give you some general advice and if there is such, a reasonably simple solution. But if there is not, there are priests who have experience and training in these matters and many lay professionals to turn to.

However, life coaching, intense marital and family disputes, significant mental and emotional counseling, prolonged grief counseling, intense personal “spiritual direction” outside the Confessional, etc., are not my strong suits. I simply do not possess the academic, professional, or temperamental traits necessary to actually help people in need of such. I’ve tried in the past, but a man’s gotta’ know his limitations.







“Outrage” and indignation are certainly an increasing reaction to things if they do not go our way.

Well, I am outraged.

Outraged by a story currently on Lifesite News  found at

It concerns a recent event held at GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY in Washington DC,  the country’ “oldest Jesuit and Catholic university.”

It was billed as ” Dismantling Reproductive Injustices: The Hyde Amendment and Criminalization of Self-Induced Abortion”. Under that jargon, it was a session in which pro-abortion speakers decried restrictions on Federal funding for abortion and “do it at home”non-surgical abortions. In other words, a PRO-ABORTION symposium at , again, let me say it: the country’s “oldest Jesuit and Catholic university.”

You can find the full story on Lifesite News website.

If I were an alumnus I would not give one penny to this institution.



A fable for Halloween.

A totally imaginary dialogue between two priests.



–         Well, George, what’s this I hear about you hopping a plane to Sweden?

–         YES! I’m very excited, never been there before!

–         Going to be cold this time of year.

–         Really, well, it’s a BIG event!

–         The Nobel Prizes?

–         No!! Going to Lund to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation!

–         You mean, LUTHER and all that?

–         Yes, I want to accompany them!

–         But, George, we’re CATHOLICS. Luther broke the Church apart, denied the Seven Sacraments, prayers for the dead,

         and started all that chaos in society.

–         Oh? Well… that was a long time ago.

–         Yes, George, I know. Of course we are courteous to Protestants as individuals and as Christians, but the THING itself was a disaster.

–         Oh, really?

–         Well, George, maybe where you come from there weren’t any Protestants, at least until recently. You DO know of course that

          well-financed, well-organized, “missionaries” are flooding into your part of the world from America, both “Born Agains” and  

          Mormons, specifically to convert your Catholic nation into their religions? Right?

–         CONVERT??? No, no!! That is proselytism, solemn nonsense, venom on the path of ecumenism!

–         Well, George, maybe that’s what YOU think, but THEY don’t seem to see it what way. THEY see it as “gaining souls for Christ”.

          You know, like WE used to say before we got all modern and ecumenical.

–         But, surely, there is something of value in those 500 hundred years?

–         Yes, some pretty good music for sure, you know Bach, Buxtehude, Anglican chant, and so forth.

–         Well, Robert, you know I’m not some sort of Renaissance prince. I have no time for concerts.

–         Yes, George, I know, you keep telling me that.

–         So, you’re not going with me?

–         No, George, I’m not.

–         Why?

–         Well, George, some of my ancestors came from Ireland and Wales, others from Sweden actually as well. My people lost the Mass,

          the Sacraments, their parish churches, some their homes, farms , even their freedom and lives all because of what Luther started.

          No, George, as we say here “Count me out!”

–         But, but…

–         I know, “throwing stones. Rigidity…etc…” I’ve heard it all before.

–         Yes, and perhaps you have no MERCY in your heart!!!!

–         George, my own father converted to our Faith, perhaps he caught a whiff of the Truth that we Catholics, I hope, possess.

          Nope, no Luther “celebrations” for me, George. Have a safe flight.