This Week’s Message
A Missionary’s Journey

By Father Al Pucinelli, SM

A “favela” in Brazil means a slum or shanty town, a heavily populated informal urban settlement characterized by substandard housing and squalor. Most favelas lack reliable sanitation services, a supply of clean water, reliable electricity, and adequate law enforcement structures. Favelas form and grow for many different reasons. Some causes include rapid migration from rural to urban settings, economic stagnation and depression, high unemployment, poverty, poor planning, natural disasters, and social conflict.

In 1991, I first entered Vila Pinto, one of the favelas of Curitiba, Brazil, to meet the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters attached to the Sisters in Reading, Pennsylvania. They had decided to live and work in the Vila. Sisters Claudia and Estela live there to this day. Sister Veraci now lives and works in the Dominican Republic. I learned that the Vila is roughly a mile long and a half-mile wide. It is located at one of the main entry points to the city of Curitiba. When big events occur there, such as the World Cup of Soccer, the city cleans up the area facing the avenue and hides everything else. Of the entire population of the state of Parana, 5.7% live in favelas. In the beginning when the Sisters constructed a chapel, they installed two water faucets and three bathroom-shower combinations on the grounds. This was the only sanitation for the whole of the Vila. Eventually, a pay phone was installed.

People live in favelas because of an unequal distribution of wealth and a lack of low cost housing. According to the government, these people live below the poverty level. When the Sisters began their work there, the Vila was part of land overgrown with weeds and mud. Violence and homicide in the favela reduce the life expectancy of a resident by seven years compared to someone living elsewhere. The lack of reliable sanitation puts the residents at risk of various diseases. The Bethlehem River runs directly through the Vila Pinto. This river has its most polluted stretch not just running through the favela, but through the entire city of Curitiba. Unfortunately, at times you see a body floating in the water. The river is not the only division. The territory is further divided by two drug gangs who seem to be fighting over territorial rights of their drug sales. Of course, violence happens. Two gangs had a shootout in the Walmart parking lot leaving six dead that day and two more deaths on the following day.

Over the years, the residents have built more substantial dwellings. Once called to bless a house, I eventually reached the third floor of the residence only to find a swimming pool. Curitiba is well known as a green city. The residents of the favela make a good living by picking up reliable trash. Because the slum borders the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, a Marist Brothers endeavor, many of the young people are able to obtain a University education while working at the school. The Brothers also sent up a health clinic and the dental school offers dental assistance.

A great number of the “old timers” are my dear friends. It is always a joy to visit them. I have joined with them in pro- tests against police brutality. I have buried not only the elderly but those whose lives were cut short by violence. There are memories of a five-year old boy whom I met while he was preparing for First Holy Communion. Unfortunately, later in life, he became an assassin. A rival gang put a price on his head, and he has since fled the Vila. The greatest irony is the fact that one of the major drug lords attended Mass every Sunday. He would become irritated if a priest could not be found to pray with the dying. If I celebrated Mass on Sunday, we always had an interesting discussion. There were times when I thought he knew more theology than I did. As far as I know, he has left the drug business. The miracle is that he is still alive. I am convinced that if someone had tried to do me or the Sisters any harm, that person would not have lived out the day because Kleber (not his real name) would have sent his SWAT team to take care of the problem.

In the midst of all these problems and sufferings in which the residents find themselves, there is a strong faith. This is clearly demonstrated when the Eucharist is celebrated in their midst. These are the people I have come to know and love. With them I have celebrated my 25th and 40th anniversaries of Ordination. My goal was to throw a party for them, but they would hear none of it. People brought a tablespoon of sugar or flour so they could have what was needed to share in the baking of the cake. With all the problems they face, they have come to put the Gospel into practice, loving God and neighbor. Despite that last sentence, all hell has broken out in the favela. Gun fights and deaths seem to be the program for this week. All this was taking place on the street in front of the chapel. In the month of January alone, fifteen people were murdered. And so went my visit to the favela Vila Pinto.

Pastor’s Note: Father Al Pucinell, SM is a Marist priest and missionary who recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He served as chaplain to our Brazilian community from 2012 until 2015. Across the miles, Pooch continues to be a good friend to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport by praying for our parishes and by keeping in touch with me and members of our pastoral team. Please pray for Father Al and for the people he serves in Brazil. Father Al can be reached by email at This essay appeared first in a recent edition of “Today’s Marist’ and is reprinted here with the author’s permission. Peace and blessings to all!

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (7-24-16)
Bringing Home the Word (7-24-16)


Holy Family Parish
Annual Crowning Ceremony
Sunday, July 24th

In anticipation of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim, all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for the Annual Crowning of Saint Ann and the Blessed Virgin Mary after our 8:15am Mass on Sunday, July 24th. For more information about this special annual event, please contact Mary Rubino at 978-281-0009. Please join us! All are welcome! And as a community of faith, let us unite our hearts and voices in prayer for the intercession of our patrons: Saint Ann, pray for us! Saint Joachim, pray for us! Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!


Holy Family Parish
Holy Family Novena & Vigil
Saturday, July 30th

In commemoration of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim (July 26th), all are welcome to join us on Saturday, July 30th for nine hours of prayer for the intercession of our patrons. This special vigil of prayer will begin with Morning Prayer at 7:00am, followed by the First Hour of a Novena to the Holy Family. At 8:00am, Father Jim will celebrate Mass and the Second Hour of the Novena. After Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for silent prayer and adoration. At the top of each hour, we will continue the Novena to the Holy Family. At 3:00pm, we will conclude by praying the Holy Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. All are invited to join us for all or just part of this day-long vigil of prayer. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at All are welcome!

Learn More: Saint Ann & Saint Joachim


Holy Family Parish Picnic
Saturday, July 30th

All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Holy Family Parish for its Annual Summer Barbecue & Picnic in celebration of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim on Saturday, July 30th beginning with Mass at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. After Mass, our barbecue and picnic will be held in the courtyard behind the parish center and on the rectory lawn. The Knights of Columbus of Gloucester & Rockport (Council 215) will be cooking hamburgers & hot dogs. Soft drinks will be provided. Parishioners are asked to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and a side dish to share (chips, baked beans, summer salads, and desserts). We will also have fun activities for kids! For more information, please contact Father Jim at Bring your family! Bring a friend! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!


Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Summer Carillon Recitals
Begin Saturday, August 6th

An annual tradition returns this summer to Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! Our Summer Carillon Recitals are scheduled to begin on Saturday, August 6th at 5:00pm (rain or shine). Once again, Luann Pallazola, our own very talented organist-keyboardist has prepared programs that include familiar classical and international pieces, popular hymns, patriotic melodies, and even some children’s tunes! Installed in 1922, the carillon bells in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church were the first toned set of carillon bells in the United States. Although our bells can be heard from several blocks away, the sound is best near the church. Other recitals are scheduled for the following Saturday afternoons at 5:00pm: August 13th, August 20th, August 27th, and September 3rd. These recitals are free and open to the public! For more information, please contact LuAnn Pallazola at, bring a cold drink or coffee! Bring a friend! Enjoy this wonderful summer tradition! And don’t forget that Mass begins at 6:00pm! All are invited! All are welcome!


Third Annual Summer Retreat
The Jesus Prayer
Begins Monday, August 8th

The summer season is a great time of year for stepping back from the business and busy-ness of daily life in order to focus on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, few among us are able to leave work, family, and friends for a real retreat from the world. For this reason, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is pleased to announce our Third Annual Summer Retreat! From Monday, August 8th through Friday, August 12th, all are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff Garvey for a unique opportunity to experience the spiritual peace and renewal of a week-long retreat without leaving home! Our retreat will be based on John Michael Talbot’s book, “The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, A Path for Renewal.” For centuries, the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!) has led countless disciples toward a deeper and more intimate experience with Christ and his gifts of love and mercy. Talbot’s book offers readers a step-by-step and word-by-word approach for understanding the Jesus Prayer and for making it a central component of our spiritual lives.

Each evening of our retreat will begin promptly at 7:00pm in Saint Anthony Chapel with Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. After that, Father Jim and Cliff will lead our community in a period of reflection, discussion, and faith sharing. We will conclude each evening at 8:30pm with Night Prayer. Between each retreat session, participants will be asked to read brief selections from John Michael Talbot’s book and to engage in a daily prayer exercise. During each day of the retreat, Saint Anthony Chapel will open at 12:00pm for silent personal prayer and reflection. In order to adequately plan for the retreat, please contact Cliff Garvey at if you plan to join us. A donation of $25 is requested from those who can afford it. Copies of the book, along with coffee, tea, and cold water will be provided. Please join us! All are welcome!

Video: John Michael Talbot Sings “The Jesus Prayer”


About Us

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 Please join us! All are welcome!

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