Our Pastor’s Message
Mass Is Our Class. Jesus Is Our Teacher.
By my count, Jesus is addressed directly ninety times in the gospels. On those occasions, he is called “Teacher” sixty times. Jesus is called “Teacher” by the disciples and by the people who followed his ministry in the hills and valleys of Judea. In this weekend’s gospel reading, James and John address Jesus as “Teacher” (Mark 10:35). And in John’s gospel, Jesus even refers to himself as a teacher (John 13:13). This weekend, when Jesus responds to James and John, we see him as a teacher who serves and sacrifices for his students. When Jesus preaches in the temple, we see him as a teacher who has great authority and wisdom. When Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount, we see him as a teacher with great compassion and humility. And when Jesus speaks to the disciples for the final time before ascending into heaven, he instructs them to teach all new disciples everything that he has taught them.
But prayerfully consider this fact: Jesus was an itinerant preacher with no formal education or training. What Jesus knew about God he learned from his parents, his extended family, his community — and from God himself through prayer and worship. More than two thousand years after his death and resurrection, more than two billion people around the world consider themselves to be Christians — followers of Jesus Christ. And as we gather this weekend for Mass, parents and grandparents, catechists and missionaries, priests, bishops, and religious sisters on every continent are fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”
Of course, the question for us now is this: How? How do we make disciples? How do we share our faith with others? And how do we pass on the beauty and richness of our Catholic faith to our children, grandchildren, and godchildren? As we know, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. And for much of the Catholic Church’s history, the Mass was the instrument for instructing the faithful (including children) in the Church’s basic beliefs and traditions. In the thirteenth century, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments were the basis of all religious instruction and were taught and explained within the context of the celebration of Mass. In the fourteenth century, priests were called upon to offer additional instruction four times each year and on various feast days. And beginning in the sixteenth century, the Church decided that religious education should begin at a young age but the format of that instruction varied from church to church, parish to parish, and diocese to diocese. Just as in Jesus’s time, most religious instruction began and ended with the family.
In 1905, Pope Pius X approved the establishment of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), a worldwide catechetical apostolate with fraternities in every diocese. Its mission was to educate children about Christ and the Church and to prepare them for the Sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, and Confirmation. Later on, “CCD” became known either as catechism, religious education, or youth faith formation; and classes were held in parochial schools, parish halls, and even private homes. In recent decades, however, enrollment in these programs has declined substantially. According to one recent study, barely 60% of all Catholic parents currently enroll their children in parish youth faith formation programs. And according to one brother priest and fellow pastor, we do more harm than good by forcing modern teenagers into these programs. He argues that when they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, too many young men and women leave feeling relieved of the burden of the Church rather than leave feeling energized by the promise of living a life of faith in the Church.
So again, how should we make new disciples? How should we share our faith with our youngest fellow parishioners? Well, I do not have all of the answers. But I do know where we will begin: by welcoming every child and every family into our churches; by reimagining, restructuring, and rebuilding a collaborative youth faith formation program that focuses on sacramental preparation; by offering exciting new programs for kids that compliment rather than compete with busy family schedules; by praying (really praying) that parents and families will join or re-join our parish communities; and by inviting with love (not with coercion or guilt) our absent brothers and sisters to join us for Mass.
Ultimately, we begin by reaffirming these timeless truths: Mass is our class. Jesus is our Teacher. My hope and prayer is that by going back to basics, we can strengthen the foundation of our youth faith formation programs; reach out in new ways to parents and children; and welcome them to our churches with open arms and hearts. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 19:14).” This weekend, if even one new family or one new child joins us for Mass, then let us welcome them with great joy and give thanks that the Lord’s voice continues to be heard in our often troubled world.
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
This Week’s Art: “Precious In His Sight”
Artist: Greg Olsen | Website: gregolsen.com
Mass for Families
“Let the Little Children Come to Me”
This Weekend: October 17th-18th
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 19:14).” In answer to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, godparents, and children are invited to join Father Jim for a “Mass for Families” on either Saturday, October 17th at 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church or Sunday, October 18th at 8:15am in Saint Ann Church. During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special homily and blessing for all families and children. In addition, all children (under age 12) will receive a special gift from Father Jim. Every child in our pews is a gift from God! Every family in our pews is a gift from God! So, please spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
CCGR Youth Choir
Tuesdays at 5:00pm
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport (CCGR) Youth Choir meets for practice and rehearsal every Tuesday afternoon at 5:00pm in Saint Ann Church. The Youth Choir sings every weekend at one of our three churches: Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. The Youth Choir welcomes new members (ranging in age from kindergarten through eighth grade). And singing in the choir is a great way to make new friends and participate in the life of our parishes! For more information, please contact Patty Natti at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Our Lady of Good Voyage
Grand Annual Collection
Our Goal: $40,000 | Donations So Far: $22,754
Each year, we ask all parishioners to contribute whatever they can to our Grand Annual Collection. This vitally important fundraising campaign bridges the gap between our weekly offertory and our financial obligations as a parish. Every contribution, whether its $1 or $10 or $100, helps us achieve our goal, meet our financial obligations for the coming year, and ensure our long-term economic stability. And be assured that every penny raised goes directly to Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish!
Our goal for this year’s Grand Annual Collection is $40,000. So far, we have raised $21,314. By now, all parishioners registered with our census should have received an offertory envelope for the Grand Annual Collection. Additional envelopes are available in the vestibule of the church. Please feel welcome to place your offering in the collection basket at Mass or mail it directly to our pastor at the following address:
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
142 Prospect Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
As this year’s Grand Annual Collection continues, please join me in praying that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to this all-important fundraising effort! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your ongoing and generous support of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! May God bless you and your family!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline