This Week’s Message: Grace Travels Fast!
By Cliff Garvey
On July 30th, my godfather and uncle, Patrick Garvey, passed away after a brave battle with cancer. Although my family knew that Pat’s prognosis was grave, his death was still shocking to my aunt, my cousins, my parents, and me. Pat was a man who loved life, lived it to the fullest, never smoked, exercised, and at healthy foods. My dad, my uncle’s older brother by just thirteen months, asked mournfully: “Why did this happen?” To this and other painful questions, we all know that there are no good answers. But at some point recently, I told my dad that during times like this, we may not be given the grace to understand why someone dies too soon, but we might be given the grace to learn something else, perhaps something even more valuable.
Almost two months later, I have no answers for my family. But I did learn something of great and lasting value. I learned that God’s grace works through colleagues, friends, fellow parishioners, and even complete strangers. Many parishioners may recall that during the last week of July, Father Jim and I gave a week-long retreat at Saint Anthony’s Chapel. During the last night of the retreat, I shared the news of my uncle’s passing and asked our retreatants to pray for him and for our family. After that evening, I can only say two things: News travels fast! Grace travels fast!
During the following weeks, I received calls, cards, and electronic messages from parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport who I knew well and from parishioners I knew not at all. Some fellow parishioners shared heartfelt condolences and sympathies. Some shared similar experiences of illness, grief, and loss. Some offered advice. Some offered hugs. Some offered prayers. And some even made generous donations in my uncle’s name to worthy causes like our own Saint Vincent de Paul Society. In short, I was overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness, and love that comes from people of faith and good will who share their love for Christ with people in need. Perhaps most importantly, the concern and compassion of strangers meant the world to my parents who were quietly grieving the loss of someone they had known and loved for more than seventy years.
One parishioner, who heard that I was struggling to help my parents understand what had happened, sent me a small second-hand book of prayers and reflections based on the life and teachings of Charles de Foucauld (about whom I had written in our parish bulletin a few months ago). Inside of that book was a card with a prayer written by Father Joseph Veneroso, a Maryknoll priest and missionary. This prayer speaks volumes about my gratitude and love for a faith community that reached out to me and my family during a time of sadness. Please join me in praying:
you no longer call us servants but friends.
Thank you for blessing me
throughout my life with friends
who stood by me in moments of sorrow
and who celebrated with me in moments of joy.
You show us the way of forgiveness and peace.
Help me overcome my pride and reach out
to those whose friendship I have injured
through selfishness and insensitivity.
Help me be ever faithful and true
even as you stand by my side when I lose my way.
Let me see you in the faces of those through whom
you fill my heart with hope and my life with meaning.
Above all, help me to be a friend to those I meet today
who need to be reminded of your love.
As someone who has only been working here for just over one year, I am overwhelmed, but not surprised by your kindheartedness and thoughtfulness for me and my family. Such kindness is the heart and soul of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. I am just beginning the process of answering the cards, calls, and messages that were sent to me and my family. But please know how deeply you have touched us and comforted us during a difficult time. And please be assured of my humble prayers for you and your family.
May the Lord give you peace — now and always!
Cliff Garvey, Associate Minister
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, October 3rd
All parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are welcome to join us for our next “Saturday Morning with Saint Francis” in Saint Ann Church on Saturday, October 3rd beginning at 7:00am. In anticipation of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4th), we will begin with Morning Prayer & Eucharistic Adoration at 7:00am. At 8:00am, Father Jim will celebrate Mass for the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. After Mass, we will pray the Franciscan Rosary (a seven decade version of the Rosary that celebrates the joyful events in the life of our Blessed Mother). After the Franciscan Rosary, all are welcome to join us for fellowship and faith sharing at Saint Ann Parish House (Rectory). Coffee, tea, and light refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at ccgronline.com. Please join us for all or part of this special morning of prayer and devotion! All are invited! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Blessing of the Animals
Saturday, October 3rd
In further celebration of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, Father Jim will mark the occasion with the traditional “Blessing of the Animals” in Our Lady’s Rectory parking lot on Saturday, October 3rd at 11:30am. All friendly family pets are welcome (but must be leashed or secured in carriers). For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Adult Faith Formation
Begins Sunday, October 4th
If you are an adult (age 18 and over) and have not received the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance & Reconciliation (Confession), Holy Eucharist, or Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church, then please consider joining us for our adult faith formation program which will meet on Sunday mornings after our 8:15am Mass beginning on Sunday, October 4th th in Saint Ann Parish House (Rectory).
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a seven month program that prepares adults to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter. Our group meets bi-weekly to learn about the basic beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. As part of this same process, our Adult Confirmation Program prepares adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation and focuses on the challenges of living a life of faith in the modern world. If you would like to join us for this journey of faith and become part of this unique fellowship in preparation for the sacraments of God’s Church, please complete a registration form (see below) or contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
Saint Francis and the Leper
Sunday, October 4th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Approximately six times each year, we gather for Mass, a community meal, and a period of faith formation and discussion. Our next gathering is scheduled for Sunday, October 4th beginning with Mass at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, Cliff will offer a reflection entitled “Saint Francis and the Leper: How Embracing God’s Poor Created a Saint.” After that, we will adjourn to Our Lady’s Hall for a light lunch and fellowship. If you would like to join us, please see Father Jim or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
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 worship sites include Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony 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 email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
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