Our Pastor’s Message
A Celebration of God’s Endless Love
On January 9, 1984, Time Magazine published a cover story entitled “Why Forgive?” about Pope John Paul II’s meeting with Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish terrorist who attempted to assassinate him three years earlier. The cover featured a remarkable photograph of the pope with his arm around the shoulder of the assassin along with a caption that read: “The Pope Pardons the Gunman.” More than thirty years later, Saint John Paul II’s sincere gesture of Christian love and mercy toward an assailant remains one of his great gifts to the People of God. No one doubted then and no one doubts now that John Paul II truly forgave Mehmet Ali Agca. In fact, after the attempted assassination, the pope wrote: “Pray for my brother Agca…whom I have sincerely forgiven.” And in late 2015, Agca visited Saint Peter’s Basilica and laid a bouquet of white roses at the tomb of the sainted pope.
Why forgive? Unlike Saint John Paul II, most of us have not been victims of violent crime. But each of us knows the sting of betrayal, gossip, and insult. Each of us knows the pain of lasting conflict or disagreement with family, friends, and colleagues. And each of us knows something about the sadness of a broken heart. We may not be called back into relationship with those who hurt us, but like Saint John Paul II, we are called to reach out to those who hurt us. We are called to love them and pray for them. We are called to forgive them with our whole heart and soul. This is the true foundation of the Christian life: to imitate the Risen Lord and his saints through sacrificial acts of love and mercy.
This weekend throughout the world, the Catholic Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. We rejoice again over the Resurrection of the Lord as he appears to his astonished disciples. And we reflect again on the Lord’s boundless love for us: that he lived, suffered, died, and rose for our sake and for our eternal salvation. This is God’s mercy made flesh and recognizable in the world for us, for all people, and for all time! Alleluia! Alleluia! This Sunday, April 3rd, all parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for “Divine Mercy Sunday: A Celebration of God’s Endless Love” from 2:00pm until 3:30pm in Saint Ann Church. Our celebration will include ninety minutes of Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and finally, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Please join us for all or part of this beautiful celebration! All are welcome!
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Divine Mercy Sunday
Enveloped by God’s Mercy
By Pope Francis
God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our lives. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands, feet, and side. We can also enter in the wounds of Jesus. We can actually touch him. This happens each time that we receive the sacraments with faith. In a fine homily, Saint Bernard said: “Through the wounds of Jesus, I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock.” I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord. It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this, too. Saint Bernard then asks: What can I count on? My own merits? No. He said: “My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, then I will also abound in merits.” This is im- portant: the courage to trust in Jesus’s mercy, to trust in his patience, and to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: “So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? Where sin abounds, there grace abounds even more.”
Maybe someone among us thinks: my sin is too great. I am as far from God as the younger son in the gospel parable. My unbelief is like that of Thomas. I do not have the courage to go back, to believe that God will welcome me, or that he is waiting for me. But God is indeed waiting for you! He asks of you only the courage to go to him. In my ministry, I have heard many times: “Father, I have many sins.” And I have always pleaded: “Do not be afraid. Go to him. He is waiting for you. He will take care of everything.” We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us accept God’s offer instead. His offer is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers. We are im- portant. Indeed, we are the most important thing to him — even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to His heart.
After his sin, Adam experiences shame. He feels naked. He senses the weight of what he has done. And yet God does not abandon him. If that moment of sin marks the beginning of Adam’s exile from God, there is already a promise of return. God immediately asks: “Adam, where are you?” God seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness. He took upon himself the shame of Adam and the nakedness of his sin in order to wash away our sins. By his wounds, we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: What shall I boast about if not my weakness and my poverty? In feeling my sinfulness and in looking at my sins, I can encounter God’s mercy and love, go to him, and receive his forgiveness.
In my own life, I have often seen God’s mercy and patience. I have also seen many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here. Accept my poverty. Hide my sin in your wounds. Wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God does just that: He accepts them, consoles them, cleanses them, and loves them. Brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God. Let us trust in his patience which always gives us more time. Let us find courage to return to God’s house, to dwell in his loving wounds, to allow ourselves to be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. By doing so, we will know his wonderful tenderness. We will feel his embrace. And we will become like him, more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness, and love. Source: Excerpted from Pope Francis’s Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday (2013)
Youth Faith Formation
Celebrations of First Holy Communion
Begins This Weekend!
The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith community’s joy and the center of our life of prayer, fellowship, and service. This spring season, after almost one year of prayer, preparation, and study, sixty-two students in our youth faith formation program will receive the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord for the first time. As our annual celebrations of First Holy Communion approach, all parishioners are encouraged to be mindful of our upcoming schedule:
Saint Joachim Church
Sunday, April 3rd at 10:00am Mass
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Sunday, April 10th at 11:45am Mass
Saint Ann Church
Saturday, April 16th at 4:00pm Mass
Saint Ann Church
Sunday, April 17th at 8:15am Mass
For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please see Father Jim or contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we make final preparations for First Holy Communion, please pray for all of our young disciples, their parents, families, and catechists! Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support!
Youth Faith Formation
Rite of Christian Initiation for Children
Begins Sunday, April 10th
If you have a child or grandchild who has completed the second grade in school but has not received either the Sacraments of Baptism or First Holy Communion, we have a special program just for them! Beginning next Sunday, April 10th, from 3:30pm until 4:45pm in the Parish Center (Saint Ann Campus), Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead an eight week program of preparation for our younger disciples who for one reason or another have not yet received the Sacraments of Initiation. For more information about this special youth faith formation program, please contact Betsy Works, Associate Minister of Youth Faith Formation, at email@example.com. Please pray for all of our young disciples and their parents, grandparents, and godparents!
Registration Form: Rite of Christian Initiation for Children
Youth Faith Formation
Catholic Kids Camp: The Vatican Express
Begins April 19th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is pleased to announce that all children (ages 5 through 11) are invited to participate in our first-ever Spring Vacation Catholic Kids Camp, entitled “The Vatican Express”, from Tuesday, April 19th through Friday, April 22nd from 8:00am until 12:00pm at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this exciting week of prayer and fellowship, children will learn about the traditions and treasures of the Vatican through active and engaged participation in games, music, skits, and easy-to-make crafts.
The tuition for this innovative youth faith formation program for children is just $25 per child for the entire week! Scholarships are available to those who cannot afford tuition. Also, adults and older children (ages 12 and up) are still needed to join us as volunteers and will be much appreciated! For more information about our Spring Vacation Catholic Kids Camp: The Vatican Express, please contact Betsy Works at bworks@ccgronline. Please join us! All are welcome!
Registration Form: The Vatican Express
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!
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