NORWALK—On January 1, 2019 after all Masses, St. Matthew parishioners returned with their original framed Sacred Heart of Jesus (SHJ) pictures. They came to have them blessed and to renew the consecration of their families and themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The first consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was made on January 1, 2017 and became an annual practice. Framed pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were given out to all parishioners as they consecrated themselves and their families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the bottom of the picture it was written, “This Home is Committed and Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Each family also received a pamphlet with daily prayers to be said for each day of the week, and a listing of the 12 promises for the devotion made to St Margaret Mary Alacoque by Jesus.
Each family agreed to a one-year special commitment, which included the commitment to attend weekend Mass, to attend confession as a family at least once every three months to participate in daily family prayer for 12 minutes a day, to attend first Friday Adoration as a family at least five times during the year and to be involved in parish activities.
Msgr. Walter Orlowski, pastor of St. Matthew said, “Bishop Caggiano consecrated the Diocese of Bridgeport on November 5, 2016. I felt it was important that every family consecrate itself at the parish level. The graces of such consecration have been tremendous.” He added that in 2018 parishioners started a Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday of every month and added an additional Mass at 7 pm on every first Friday.
In September 2018, to further spread the devotion within the families, Father Tomi Thomas, parochial vicar, introduced a program where parish families would pass a Sacred Heart of Jesus statue around from family to family on a weekly basis.
Each week at the end of the 9 am Mass families are called up to the sanctuary and the family who has the SHJ statue passes it to the new family. The family takes the statue home and prays together each evening with daily prayers. In the middle of each week one of the priests visits the home to bless it and pray with them.
The response from the families has been wonderful. Brian Buckmir, whose family had recently participated, said, “It was special to have Father Tomi bless our home. This whole process was a great experience for our family and we feel grateful to the church for this program.” One mother happily mentioned how her college-aged daughter came home during the week to pray along with the younger members of the family.
Another family whose father had to work away from the house two of the evenings Facetimed his family so they all could pray together.
Three-and-a-half year old Antonio Maida told his mom, “I don’t want to give Jesus back,” while Francisco Ames, seven-years old said, “I loved it,” when asked how he felt about the visit. His mom Brenda remarked, “I felt so blessed to have the Sacred Heart of Jesus come to my house.”
The DeLeon family also shared their experience with the SHJ statue. Shannon (mother) said, “It was a wonderful experience to have Father Tomi in our home for the Sacred Heart of Jesus blessing, then to have the opportunity to share a meal and spend time together.” Her daughter Olivia, nine-years-old added, “It was nice that each room was blessed,” while her father George was concerned for the safety of their precious passenger (Statue of SHJ) and wanted to make sure the statue was seat-belted securely in the car seat so it would arrive safely.
The consecration and SHJ statue visits have been a great opportunity for the families to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus as “the king of their home and lives.”
According to Father Tomi Thomas, who often goes for home blessings on Wednesdays, “A family that prays together stays together.” He states that if family prayers can be brought back into the lives of the people most of the issues concerning children’s discipline can be overcome. Father Tomi, hailing from India says, “In India, family prayer with Rosary, even today, is part and parcel of Catholic life.” He states that “vocations in India have grown because of family prayers and attendance of Mass as a family regularly. Father Tomi says the parish is experiencing a sprout of spiritual renewal. “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus bless us,” he says.