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An Introduction to St. Thomas the Apostle
St. Thomas the Apostle is a Catholic Church of the Eparchy of Passaic. It is a Byzantine Church in communion with the Pope of Rome. As a Church we believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through this faith we are called into a living relationship with our one true God revealed in Jesus Christ and confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. By this living faith and experience of worship, we are joined together as a people of God. In worship we proclaim what God has done and is doing now in our lives. For this gift of salvation in Jesus Christ we continually praise Him.
The patron of our church is St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas was one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle. In the Scriptures Thomas is the doubting and questioning disciple; yet he makes the greatest profession of faith in the Risen Christ: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) As an Apostle Thomas traveled the farthest distance in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Catholics of southern India proclaim him as the Apostle who brought Christianity to them.
As a Church, we witness to the power of God operative in our lives and seek to live this life to the fullest in our personal faithfulness, family relationships, and community service. Our Church seeks to have an active, living, conscious faith that is expressed in worship and nurtured through catechetical ministry. We have a complete program of religious education for people of all ages.
Congregational singing led by a cantor enhances all our worship services. Music ministry is an important part of the life of our Church.
Our parish societies (Altar-Rosary, The Men of Saint Thomas, Byzantine Catholic Youth, Parish family and several committees) round out the active social life of our parish. There are events for all members of the family.
Additional funding is provided to our parish through a weekly bingo. A yearly Slavonic Festival was initiated in 1987.
All parishoners are asked to take an active part in the activities of the Church. Worship and prayer are essential to Christian life and community. Each member is asked to contribute to the Church a portion of his or her income to support the life and growth of our community. We request everyone to give twenty hours of service during the year and especially to help at our annual festival.
St. Thomas celebrates liturgy according to the Byzantine Church.. Her theological tradition and her laws are those of the Byzantine Church which originated in the city of Constantinople, capital city of the Roman Empire from 325 to 1453. Byzantine civilization was one of the most glorious and durable in human history and the fathers of the Church were able to grow in an understanding of our Lord and His Gospel that was then passed on to many peoples of Eastern Europe (including Russians, Ukranians, Croatians, Hungarians, Slovakians and Romanians). When people from these ethnic groups migrated to the United States they brought this treasure of faith with them. Our Church membership is open to people of all ethnic backgrounds and races. It is the heir to a faith in God, one in the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - that is essential to our journey to God. It is both traditional and modern and emphasizes that through our union with Christ we become God-like and his beloved children. We believe that God is with us and that in Holy Communion we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we can sing: "We have received the heavenly Spirit."
The Church's structure follows the traditions of the Byzantine Church. The icons (or images) of Christ and the saints show us that they are present with us when we celebrate the liturgy. The icon of Christ in particular is a sign of our faith in Jesus, the Word of God, equal to the Father Who became a man for our salvation and revealed to us the love of the father. We venerate His icon for as human he can be depicted and He is in truth "the reflection of the Father's glory and the exact representation of the Father's being." (Hebrews 1:3) These icons are placed on the screen (called the icon screen) between the altar and the nave. The central doors of the icon screen are opened for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
Our Church is faithful to Jesus' command to bring His Gospel to all peoples. (Matthew 28:16-20) We invite you to share our faith in Jesus Christ, to experience our worship, and to live a life dedicated to the service of God and one another in Jesus' name. All who seek to know and love God are welcome in our Church. Byzantine Catholics who are transferring into the area are most welcome and can join by application to the pastor. We do not proselytize members of other churches but will welcome those who wish to join our Church for reasons recognized by Church law - particularly spiritual welfare.
Those who have been baptized in a Church that is not Catholic can join by taking a series of instructions, by making a profession of faith and by receiving the Sacrament of Chrismation if it has not previously been received. We especially welcome back those who have been members of the Catholic Church and wish to renew their faith as well as those who have never been a member of a Church but now wish to seek God through faith. Those who have not been baptized can join the Church by a series of instructions called the Catechumenate and by baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
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