Guest Message: “A Pilgrim’s Christmas in Italy”

By Cliff Garvey
Minister of Evangelization

I have always wanted to go away for Christmas. Perhaps more accurately, I have always wanted to get away for Christmas. For many people, this season of the year is filled with bright lights, big parties, and lots of noise. But for some reason, the hustle, bustle, and glitz of the holiday season makes me anxious. And so, I have always wanted to get away.

After last Christmas, months before Father Jim asked me to join the pastoral team of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, I decided to fulfill this longstanding wish to get away. With the reluctant blessing of my parents and closest friends, I made arrangements to make a solitary pilgrimage and retreat to Assisi in Italy for Christmas this year. As the months passed, however, I began to have second thoughts. Should I stay home and help my pastor and colleagues prepare for Christmas? Should I stay home and spend Christmas with my parents like a good son? Well, believe it or not, my parents have happily made other plans! And our good and holy pastor has said (more than once): “You’re going! Period!” And so, I leave next weekend for a pilgrim’s Christmas in Italy.

I admit some nervousness and excitement — nervousness about spending Christmas away from home for the first time, and at the same time, excitement for that very same reason. By now, you must be thinking that I’m a little crazy. Christmas alone in Assisi? Maybe it is crazy. Maybe not. But I will not be alone. First, Sister Marcellina and the Sisters of Saint Bridget in Assisi will feed me (perhaps too well) and watch over me (perhaps too closely). Over the years, these good and prayerful women have become like real sisters to me. Second, technology will allow me to keep in close touch with family, friends, and colleagues. And third, there is the good and faithful company of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, who have long been my close spiritual friends and family.

Most importantly, though, I will remain united with all of you in prayer. During that stolen moment of peace and quiet during your own Christmas Eve or Christmas Day celebrations, please remember that on the other side of the world, one solitary pilgrim will be praying for you and your family and for all the good and faithful people of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Please pray for me, too! In Michael O’Brien’s incredible novel, “Father Elijah”, a simple friar leave the convent on Christmas Eve by announcing that he will go and search for the Holy Family — Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — in the faces of those he will meet on the streets of Rome. As I prepare to depart for a pilgrims’ Christmas in Italy, I promise to search for the Holy Family, too. I promise to search for the real meaning of Christmas. And I will pray with all my heart that each one of us, in our own way, will find it, too.

May the Lord give you peace at Christmas and always,

Christmas Mass Schedule

The Celebration of Mass is the source and summit of our community’s life of prayer, fellowship, and service. All are welcome to join us for Mass and to participate in Holy Communion in accordance with personal conscience and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In celebration of Christmas, we will celebrate Mass according to the following schedule. Come and pray with us!

Christmas Eve | Wednesday, December 24

4:00pm     Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
4:00pm     Saint Ann Church
6:00pm     Saint Joachim Church
6:00pm     Saint Ann Church (Bilingual)
12:00am   Midnight Mass at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church

Christmas Day | Thursday, December 25

8:00am     Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
9:30am     Saint Joachim Church
10:45am   Saint Ann Church
12:00pm   Our Lady of Good Voyage Church

On behalf of Father Jim, Father Alves, Father Garibaldi, Father Pucinelli, and our pastoral team, we hope and pray that you will join us in prayer and fellowship at Mass as we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord at Christmas! All are welcome!

Holy Family Grand Annual Collection
Goal: $75,000 | Donations to Date: $69,950 | 93.3%

Each year, we ask all parishioners to contribute what they can to Holy Family’s Grand Annual Collection. This collection is a vitally important component of our annual budget. It helps us balance our budget by bridging the gap between the weekly collection and our financial obligations. The Grand Annual helps us to pay for the benefits and salaries of our priests and pastoral team. It helps us to pay our insurance and utility bills. It helps us to maintain our historic buildings and plow our parking lots. It helps to fund essential parish programs like adult and youth faith formation. And all contributions go directly to Holy Family Parish. If we do not achieve our goal, then it becomes almost impossible for us to balance our annual budget! So far, we have received 93.3% of our goal! We hope to reach 100% of our goal by Christmas Day! Please pray that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to the Grand Annual Collection!

Holy Family Parish
First Penance & Reconciliation 2014

Father Jim wishes to thank our staff, volunteers, parents, godparents, and grandparents for preparing our students so well for First Penance & Reconciliation, which was celebrated on Saturday, December 6th in Saint Ann Church. This year, thirty-nine of our young fellow parishioners (all second graders) participated in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) for the first time.

If your child is preparing for First Holy Communion and did not participate in our celebration of First Penance, please contact Father Jim at Anyone, including children, can participate in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation during our regularly scheduled time for confessions on Saturday afternoons from 3:00pm until 3:30pm at Saint Ann Church or Our Lady of Good Voyage Church or by appointment. As our students continue to prepare for First Holy Communion, please pray for them, their catechists, and their families! Thank you! Peace and blessings to all!As they continue to prepare for First Holy Communion, please pray for them, their catechists, and their families! Thank you! Peace and blessings to all!

Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Celebrating 125 Years | 1889-2014

In 1989, in a beautiful booklet commemorating the centennial anniversary of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, Father Eugene Alves, our pastor emeritus, wrote: “As we begin this important centennial year in our history, we place our lives and our parish under the protection and care of our patroness, Mary, the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Good Voyage, lifting our voices praying: ‘O Mary, protect us on our journey, for all of your ways are beautiful, and all of your paths are of peace.'” As Our Lady’s celebrates its 125th anniversary, let us give God thanks and praise for the continued gift of Father Alves in our lives; let us pray for Father Jim, our new pastor, and let us renew our prayer to the patroness of our parish: Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us — now and always! Amen!

Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Commemorative Anniversary Calendars

As a way of celebrating the parish’s 125th anniversary, Our Lady’s Guild has produced a limited edition 2015 commemorative anniversary calendar. These calendars feature professional photographs of our historic church’s stained glass windows. Proceeds of the sale of these calendars benefit Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. And they make great Christmas gifts! A donation of $10 is requested. If you would like to purchase one (or more) of these beautiful commemorative anniversary calendars (while supplies last), please contact Linda Galvin at

The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport

Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our collaborative is comprised of Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information, please contact Father Jim at Please join us! All are welcome!

Follow us: