Pastors Page

Rev. John J. Yanas

Pastor, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Troy, N.Y. 12180   2008 – Present

A 1972 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, Father Yanas was ordained in 1984.

In the early years of his priesthood, Father Yanas served at Sacred Heart alongside Father Vaughan, from 1985 until 1992.  Prior to returning to Sacred Heart Parish in 2008, Father Yanas served as Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Frankfort, New York.

Since his arrival for a second “tour of duty,” as our Pastor, Father Yanas has brought a renewed sense of energy, purpose and community to the Catholic Community of Sacred Heart.

On Giving Thanks – A Thanksgiving Reflection:

In the wake of the recent limousine tragedy in which twenty people died a violent and horrific death, funeral masses were celebrated for many of the victims at two area Catholic churches. Surely, it is worth noting that many who had gathered for the widely covered funerals were called upon to give God praise and thanksgiving. In the Eucharistic preface the priests prays, “Let us give thanks to the Lord” and the congregants respond, “It is right to give him thanks and praise”.

Is it entirely appropriate to give thanks to God in the aftermath of an accident claiming the lives of mostly young people?

On the third of October in the year 1789, our nation’s first President and Founding Father, George Washington, issued his first declaration of thanksgiving. What is astonishing is that he included in this official document a heartfelt prayer of thanks for the care of providence, even in view of the great disasters that befell his army and the unspeakable sufferings he saw among his troops in the winter snows of 1776 and 1777. In the wake of the recent disaster on a country road in Schoharie county, his words are timely, and, what’s more, very instructive.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor… Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty, which we have since enjoyed”.

In his fine book, “No One Sees God”, the late philosopher and theologian, Michael Novak, makes the following astute observation: “During my seventy-four years, I have met extremely few people who are not grateful for the very fact of life, fresh air, the taste of water on a dry day, the stars and moon at night. It may be surprising how often even people who are very poor or who suffer mightily from cancer, give thanks for the good things they have received from the Almighty. There are not many people who think everything is bleak, that death is better than life, that nothingness is better than being. Just existing has a sweet taste to it, even in extremities”.

To render thanks is a duty and a solemn obligation for Christians. And our words of thanksgiving must be sincere and not have a hollow ring. Thankfulness must be spontaneous and generous. St. Paul, a disciple of Jesus who endured much suffering in his missionary work, exhorted the fledgling Christian community of Thessolonica to give thanks for EVERYTHING. “Give thanks in all circumstances”, he writes, “For this is the will of Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes.5:18). Obviously, it is easy to be grateful for good things, but to be grateful for difficulties— rejection, sickness, the loss of loved ones, at first sight seems to be absurd. But the commands of Christ are like this. They demand the seemingly impossible. If we obey his commands, we will eventually find peace.

In heaven, the principal prayer of the martyr who freely offered his life for Christ is one of thanksgiving. Padre Martinez, a Peruvian Jesuit, believed that gratitude is so highly fitting as a response to God’s benevolence that he trained himself to say “Deo gracias” (thanks be to God) four hundred times a day and encouraged others to do so.

Shortly before I received a bone marrow transplant in September of 2011, I had a brief encounter in the hospital with a housekeeper on the staff, who was in tears. She informed me of her Haitian background. Her only son, she said, was a tragic victim of gang violence. Her grief was understandable and expected. She asked me to share my thoughts with her as a priest. I agreed with her that her son’s death was a needless tragedy and a cause for sadness, even despair. But I gently reminded her that not even death could deprive her of the many happy memories she had of her deceased son. I recommended that she treasure in her heart all the beautiful memories of her son. I also told her that at the end of the day, we shall all be reunited with our loved ones in heaven. That is the promise of Jesus. And that is precisely the reason why even in the most dire circumstances, we can still say thank you to the Lord.

The recent tragedy in the Western part of our diocese will surely not be the last one we shall face. When the next calamity strikes, let us pray for the grace to muster up the courage and wisdom to say aloud “thy will be done” and “thanks be to God”.


Rev. J. Yanas

November 16, 2018



Click on the link below to visit Fr. Yanas’ Homilies Page.

Recent Homilies and Reflections

Caring Bridge:

Click the link below to visit Fr. Yanas’ Caring Bridge journal.  (Note: Login required.  Follow instructions on site.)



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