This Week’s Message
A Call to Mercy
By Deacon Dan Dunn
Each year the church calls us to focus our spiritual growth on some aspect of our faith. I sometimes wonder what a specific year has to do with our call to holiness, peace, or as it is this year, a call to mercy. I am confused and want to understand what is meant by this call to mercy. I always thought that mercy was a gift that God gave us and did not understand that we too can be merciful. By declaring 2016 as a Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is creating an expanded vision for the church in our Catholic community. God has mercy for us and we are now being called to express God’s mercy for us to others. I am now beginning to recognize the need I have to invite God’s mercy to heal me and by being healed I will notice the grace of God’s mercy flowing through me to others.
In its social context, Webster defines mercy as compassionate behavior on the part of those in power. How often do I feel compassion for someone in need of help but fail to follow through with supportive actions? In his Prayer for the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis reminds us that “we are the visible face of the invisible…God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy.” We are called to manifest the power of God’s mercy to others.
Members of our collaborative go to Cevicos in the Dominican Republic to support a parish community there. This mission was initially thought to be a mission of mercy to a people in dire need of help. We now know the people of Cevicos to be a people with needs but not a needy people. They are a happy people who appreciate our help and despite their circumstances are joyful and appreciative of life without much material wealth. Our outreach has now become an experience of giving and receiving blessings for both communities. While there are currently many active and well established ministries of mercy operating within our parishes and other agencies on Cape Ann, there is one population that remains hidden from our attention. They are the numerous nameless faces of human beings, called “homeless.”
When we hear the phrase “the plight of the homeless” it can be easy to turn our eyes and thoughts away and avoid connection. Can it begin to matter to me that forty or fifty of my neighbors are out in the cold during the winter months while I am in a warm place watching the Patriots? Can I begin to understand these individuals as having names, faces, loved ones, families and personal needs for well-being? If this does matter to me, what can I do? In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis appeals to us to begin to dialogue concerning the plight of the poor, the migrants and those who are marginalized in our communities.
Our first dialogue could be prayer and it is my belief that the election of Pope Francis to the papacy is a result of much prayer. Another way for making connection is to google ‘homelessness’ and learn more about the conditions that contribute to this expanding situation of poverty in our country. A simple smile as you pass on the street can be a welcomed gesture. A friendly “hello” can say that I am noticing your presence. We have learned not to notice each other. A smile or greeting offers mercy and a longed for connection with each other. Mother Teresa invites us to “do small things with great love.” Beyond these small and most important things that we can do, there is an urgent need for safety and protection from the ravages of the elements of winter. The Action Shelter offers dinner and overnight shelter seven days a week for those who are without homes. The Grace Center provides food and a safe day space four days a week. This leaves Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with no day time support for the well-being of those without homes. This situation deserves our attention and prayers if we are to be “ the visible face of the invisible…God, who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy.”
These are a few words from my wife, Nana: “I am a volunteer at the Grace Center and have spent many Sunday mornings in the church basement having coffee and donuts with the parishioners and our street people. I have noticed and want to acknowledge the amazing resilience and willingness in each person to proceed in their day-to-day living despite the frequent challenges and emergencies they experience. Without the stability, safety, security and sense of well-being that comes with having a ‘home’, each daily task becomes more complex and difficult. Yet there is an ability to adapt. Their thriving could have more potential if there were to be a more cohesive system for them to navigate, a kind of one stop shopping. Most have an underlying sense of hope. Their loosely held community is formed around a shared response to poverty and homelessness. In this leaderless community they are all leaders in the way they naturally respond to each other’s needs for support and care. I have been blessed and given the opportunity to learn to experience the ‘visible face…of the invisible God’ and to share the voice of the voiceless and unheard.”
Working with those who are homeless is just one urgent way for us to show God’s mercy. Let’s start having conversations about how we can all have a year of having reverence for all of life, showing the mercy, the love and compassion that is modeled for us by Jesus in the gospels, for all. Thank God for Pope Francis and the homeless who invite us to show God’s mercy.
Reverend Mr. Daniel Dunn, Permanent Deacon
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Year of Mercy Special Event
Friday, January 15th
All are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport for our next “Mercy Friday” on Friday, January 15th from 12:00pm until 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. This day of devotion and prayer will begin at 12:00pm with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. At 3:00pm, we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. From 5:00pm until 6:00pm, Father Jim will hear confessions. And at 6:30pm, we will conclude with Evening Prayer (with Homily) and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For more information about this and other Year of Mercy programs and events, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us for all or part of this special day of devotion and prayer as we celebrate God’s love and mercy for each and everyone of us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Name Society Penny Sale
Monday, January 18th
The Holy Name Society is an organization of men which was founded to prayerfully support Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish through fundraising and volunteer service. All are welcome to join them for their next “Penny Sale” on Monday, January 18th beginning at 7:00pm in Our Lady’s Parish Hall. As always, the “Penny Sale” will feature great prizes, a 50-50 raffle, delicious homemade sweet bread, along with other delicious foods and snacks. For more information about the Holy Name Society and its good work in our community, please contact Michael Horgan at 978-281-4820. Please join us! All are welcome!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving is now available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. At ParishPay, it is easy, simple, and safe to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Donations can be made on a one-time-only or ongoing basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. So, please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please visit parishpay.com or contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need any assistance with setting up an account, please contact Linda Rogers at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support of our parishes!
Learn More: ParishPay.com
Holy Family Parish
Grand Annual Collection
Goal: $75,000 | Donations: $58,829
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 offerings and our financial obligations. The Grand Annual Collection 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. All contributions to the Grand Annual Collection 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 approximately 78% of our goal! Although we have much work to do, we still hope to reach our goal of $75,000 by the First Sunday of Lent. Please pray that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to Holy Family’s Grand Annual Collection! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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