This Week’s Message
Follow Me: A Reflection on the Sunday Gospel
By Cliff Garvey
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old,
you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
As most parishioners already know, Rudy Macchi passed away two weeks ago after a brave battle with cancer. Rudy was a successful businessman, father, grandfather, friend, fellow parishioner, and community leader. He had a contagious smile, a mischievous sense of humor, and a lively spirit that will be long remembered by all those lucky enough to know him. Although I knew Rudy for less than two years, we bonded as friends during last fall’s Assisi Project pilgrimage to Italy where we walked together in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Rudy’s death prompted me to pray and think deeply about this weekend’s reading from Saint John’s Gospel, especially its last two verses (John 21:18-19). In this passage, Jesus says to Peter and the other disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (John 21:18).” With these words, Jesus foretells the martyrdom by crucifixion that Peter would suffer years later at the hands of the Roman authorities. Jesus also teaches us about a lesson about life. When we are young and healthy, we are able and expected to take care of ourselves; and we enjoy the freedom to make the most of the life that is given to us. But when we grow old or get sick, we must depend on others to assist us with even the simplest of tasks like getting dressed.
The Lord also offers us the striking observation that when we are aged, ill, or facing some serious challenge, we will be called, like Peter, to stretch out our arms on the cross. In this way, Jesus reminds us that true discipleship involves carrying the cross, our own particular cross. Some of us will be called to carry the cross of old age. Some will be called to carry the cross of addiction and recovery. Some will be called to carry the cross of poverty or unemployment. Some will be called to carry the cross of loneliness or alienation from family, friends, and colleagues. And some, like Rudy Macchi, will be called to carry the cross of cancer or some other chronic or terminal illness. Whatever our own individual cross may look like, it always seems to us like the cross of Christ…because it is.
Nobody wants to carry the cross of suffering. Nobody wants to make the long journey to Calvary. Nobody in their right mind derives pleasure from humiliation or pain. But Jesus teaches his disciples, then and now, that suffering is part of life’s journey, regardless of whether that journey is long or short. Jesus shares this tough grace and embraces the reality that his own earthly life would end on the cross. Rudy’s life ended on the cross of cancer. Yours and mine will also end on the cross: whether it’s the cross of old age, addiction, poverty, loneliness, or illness. Jesus shared this difficult life lesson with Peter and the other disciples. Jesus shares it with us now. Ultimately, Jesus will beckon to each and every one of us: “Follow me (John 21:19).”
Jesus calls us to lift high the cross that we have been asked to carry and to follow him wherever he leads us. Of course, we pray that where he leads will not be too hard or lonely or painful, but we know from experience that life can be hard. And yet, we do not despair. We believe. We hope. We love despite the rough road ahead because we know in our hearts that there’s life beyond the cross. Even when we suffer or fall under the weight of the cross, we know that Jesus, our Risen Lord and Savior, will lift us up, lead us forward, and ultimately welcome us into his eternal kingdom.
Last week during the Mass of Christian Burial for Rudy Macchi, we sang a hymn whose lyrics offer us a beautiful response to Christ’s call to follow him: “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” Let us pray for the soul of our friend, Rudy Macchi, and for the souls of all who have passed from this life carrying their cross. And let us pray that the Lord and all of the saints will lead us beyond this life in an eternal procession of crosses to the new life that never ends. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Holy Family Grand Annual Collection
Goal: $75,000 | Donations: $78,246
Each year, we ask parishioners in Holy Family Parish to contribute what they can to our Grand Annual Collection. This collection is a vitally important component of our parish’s annual budget. It helps us to balance the budget by bridging the gap between the weekly collections at Mass and our overall financial obligations. It helps us to pay for the salaries and benefits of our priests and pastoral team. It helps us to pay for our insurance and utility bills. It helps us maintain and restore our historic buildings and plow our parking lots. And it help fund essential parish programs like adult and youth faith formation.
This year, our goal at Holy Family Parish was to raise $75,000 during the Grand Annual Collection. Thanks to fellow parishioners just like you, we reached and surpassed our goal by raising $78,246 after a final push just before the beginning of the Easter Season. Alleluia! Alleluia! Your support, especially during the past few weeks, has been both amazing and inspiring! And your generosity enables us to continue the good work we have begun in reimagining and rebuilding our youth faith formation program; repairing and refurbishing our parish hall; and paving the way for the restoration of the tower and east front of Saint Ann Church.
All parishioners are reminded that electronic giving is now available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Via 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. For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please visit parishpay.com, see me before or after Mass, or contact me at email@example.com.
In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to share with you important financial news in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Until then, please pray for me, for our pastoral team, and for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Please pray that God will bless both of our parishes with parishioners like you who are dedicated to living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church. And please pray in thanksgiving for all who share their time, talent, and treasure with our parishes. Your ongoing generosity and support are true gifts from the Lord! Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Youth Faith Formation
Celebrations of First Holy Communion
Continues 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 continue, all parishioners are encouraged to be mindful of our remaining schedule: Sunday, April 10th at the 11:45am Mass in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; Sunday, April 16th at the 4:00pm Mass in Saint Ann Church; and Sunday, April 17th at the 8:15am Mass in Saint Ann Church. 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 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 at email@example.com. Please pray for all of our young disciples and their parents, grandparents, and godparents!
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: 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.
Day I: Tuesday, April 19th Pope Francis: Our Holy Father
Day II: Wednesday, April 20th
The Crossed Keys: Saint Peter and the Popes
Day III: Thursday, April 21st
The Holy Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure
Day IV: Friday, April 22nd
The Monstrance: Becoming a Missionary for Jesus
Each day of the Vatican Express will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. All parents, grandparents, and guardians are welcome to join us! After Mass, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead the children to Our Lady’s Parish Hall for a faith-filled and fun-filled morning of activities, learning, and good times with friends both new and old. The Vatican Express is a fun, thought-provoking, and faith-based program that your children and grandchildren will love!
The tuition for this innovative spring vacation 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 welcome to join us as volunteers and will be much appreciated! For more information about our Spring 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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline.com