Our Pastor’s Message: “A Towering Challenge”
Happy Easter! On behalf of our senior priests, deacons, and pastoral team, we welcome you to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport for the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter! If you are a regular churchgoer, we are grateful for your ongoing presence, prayers, and generous support of our parish communities. If you are a guest or newcomer, we welcome you with open arms and open hearts. And we pray that you will continue to join us for the celebration of Mass and the many opportunities for prayer, fellowship, and service that are available at Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish.
As we celebrate this time of new hope and new life, I am compelled to share with you what can only be called a “towering challenge” for the good and faithful people of Holy Family Parish. As many of you know, when I arrived here last summer, I was bombarded with opinions and questions about a proposal to build an elevator in Saint Ann Church. At that time, the cost of this proposal was nearly one million dollars (and approximately forty percent of the funds would have been borrowed from the Archdiocese of Boston).
There appeared to be much support for this project. However, after serving just a few weeks as your pastor, it became abundantly clear to me that there was also much concern and doubt about the project. And there were also many unan- swered questions. How would we repay the loan or raise additional funds necessary to complete the project? Was there another way to improve access to the church and its restrooms for our disabled and elderly parishioners? And what would happen when we began construction on a project both inside and outside of a 125 year old church building?
Last fall, Michael Horgan (our new buildings & facilities manager who is also an experienced contractor with deep roots in our community) toured and inspected every inch of Saint Ann Church with me and with members of our pastoral team. What we found was both disturbing and disheartening. We discovered that the “virtue” of long-deferred maintenance has become the vice of deterioration and neglect throughout Saint Ann Church. The ceiling over the spot where the elevator would have opened into the church is cracked and crumbling. Archways and ceilings in the choir loft are crumbling and literally crashing to the floor to the point where we have now restricted all access to the choir loft and bell tower. The anchors, frames, pins, and sills that support both the large and small rose windows in the church have decayed to the point where they may have to be removed so that the structures that support them can be rebuilt. Likewise, the buttresses on the front of the church have deteriorated to the point where we fear that they are literally separating from the building. Both side entrances and vestibules of the church are in desperate and obvious need of much repair and refurbishment. And this list does not include the long-overdue painting of the interior of the church or the long-overdue renovation of the parish hall.
Most of the problems described above have been caused by leaks in the bell tower that allow water to travel from the steeple, through the tower, between the exterior masonry and the interior plaster. These leaks are causing the tower, the east wall of the church, and the interior plaster in the choir loft and vestibule to deteriorate at an accelerated pace, causing damage to the front doors, walls, and woodwork of the church. And this “towering challenge” is worsened by severe winters which cause water to freeze, expand, melt and contract. Overall, this potentially ruinous situation is urgent and must be addressed now. In short, we have reached the point where major portions of our beautiful and historic church must be restored, not just repaired — for both safety and structural reasons. Again, we are not talking about just maintaining and repairing our church; we are now talking about restoring and saving it!
As I promised to you last fall, after consulting with our finance council and pastoral council, I commissioned an independent engineering firm to formally inspect our church buildings and report their findings. Needless to say, their formal inspection revealed results almost identical to our informal inspections. So after again consulting with our finance council, I gave approval to contract CBI Consulting of Boston to again inspect the church and tower in order to determine the cost of necessary repairs to restore Saint Ann Church and preserve it for future generations of parishioners. The cost of this inspection, study, and proposal is approximately $15,000 and includes the use a special crane to examine every aspect of the bell tower and steeple. These costs will be paid from the funds already raised as part of the Building Restoration & Accessibility Fund.
As we undertake this first step toward restoring Saint Ann Church and improving accessibility for all of our parishioners, I humbly ask for your prayers and support. I am committed to preserving and restoring this beautiful church. And I am confident that with God’s help, we can accomplish our goals. As a people of faith, we know that with God, all is possible! May you and your family find peace and joy at Easter and always! Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Holy Family Parish | Saint Joachim Church
Celebration of First Holy Communion
Sunday, April 12th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of Holy Family Parish are reminded that our community will celebrate First Holy Communion at Saint Joachim Church on Sunday, April 12th at our 9:30am Mass. After two years of prayer and formation, fourteen of our youngest fellow parishioners will receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time. As we make final preparations for First Holy Communion, please pray for all of our students, parents, and catechists. For more information about youth faith formation at Holy Family Parish, please contact Dawn Alves at email@example.com. Happy Easter!
Divine Mercy Sunday
A Celebration of God’s Love & Mercy
Sunday, April 12th
All parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for Divine Mercy Sunday on April 12th from 2:00pm until 3:30pm in Saint Ann Church. Our program of prayer will include Eucharistic Adoration at 2:00pm; the Holy Rosary at 2:30pm; and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00pm. We will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 3:30pm. Please join us for all or part of this annual celebration of God’s love and mercy! For more information, please contact Jane Russo at 978-430-7196 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome!
Assisi Project Online Retreat
Easter with Saint Francis of Assisi
Each week during Lent, the Assisi Project offered an online retreat based on the lives and writings of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. This week, our retreat concludes with an Easter reflection entitled “New Life” which encourages us to reflect on the Resurrection of Christ and the signs and symbols of life that surround us. Please join us at assisiproject.com! For more information about the Assisi Project, please visit our website, see Father Jim before or after Mass, or contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com or 978-281-4820. May the Lord give you peace at Easter and always!
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 about becoming a member of one of our parishes, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline