Our Pastor’s Message
Advent: A Radical Welcome
This weekend at Mass, we read from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which Paul encourages early Christians to pray together, worship together, strive for unity, and welcome all people into their communities of faith. He writes: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15: 5-7).” Two millennia later, we should note well that Paul’s welcome is radical, unconditional, and includes all people, everywhere, no matter who they are, where they are, or what they may have done or believed in the past.
Since my seminary years, I have been deeply interested in the writings of Saint Paul. Once an infamous bigot, sinner, and persecutor of early Christian believers, Paul experienced a profound conversion and became one of the Risen Lord’s most devoted, effective, and enthusiastic disciples. In his writings, Saint Paul breaks down the barriers between people, transcends doctrine, law, and ritual, and offers a hand of lasting friendship and welcome to all people, so that they might also experience what he experienced: conversion, grace, and salvation through Christ Jesus.
In recent weeks, I have been thinking a great deal about Saint Paul, Pope Francis, and their messages of mercy and inclusiveness; and their outreach to the poor, most especially the poor in spirit. I have been thinking about those among us, friends and family members, who might feel excluded from the beauty of our shared faith, the richness of our traditions, and the warmth of our parish life. When I became your pastor more than two years ago, one of my first decisions was to ensure that every announcement about every event or program in our parishes included this message: “All are welcome!” Since then, however, I have not fully explained what that means and to whom it applies. So, here goes!
Let’s be clear. The celebration of Holy Mass is the source and summit of our community’s joy and its life of prayer, fellowship, and service. All are welcome to join us for Mass and to participate in Holy Communion in accordance with a personal examination of conscience and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In this spirit, all are welcome means just that: “All are welcome!” So, whether you are a sinner or a saint, all are welcome! Whether you attend Mass every day, every week, or just every so often, all are welcome! Whether you know the difference between an Apostolic Letter and an Apostolic Exhortation, all are welcome! Whether you are healthy, living with a chronic illness, or suffering from a terminal illness, all are welcome! Whether you are fat or skinny or somewhere in between, all are welcome! Whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in between, all are welcome! Whether you are young or old or middle-aged like me, all are welcome! Whether you are single, married, or divorced, all are welcome! Whether you are straight, gay, or not so sure, all are welcome! Again and again and again, all are welcome means all are welcome!
Like Saint Paul and Pope Francis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was also blessed with the heart of a true pastor. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister and theologian who spoke out against Adolph Hitler and Nazism; and he paid for it with his life. In a meditation for Advent written from prison, Bonhoeffer challenges us to engage in a radical welcome to all who seek comfort and consolation during dark times. He writes: “Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, and makes demands on you. That is the great seri- ousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it?” This Advent and beyond, let us learn from Bonhoeffer, Pope Francis, and Saint Paul. Let us live the Gospel, share it with love, and rebuild the Church. Let us open wide the doors of our churches and our hearts! And let us exclaim with one voice for the glory of God, forever and always: “All are welcome!”
Peace and blessings to all during Advent,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Adult & Youth Music Ministry
12th Annual Advent & Christmas Concert
Sunday, December 4th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Tom Misuraca, LuAnn Pallazola, and the Holy Family Parish Music Ministry for its Twelfth Annual Advent & Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 4th at 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church. All of this year’s musical selections have been chosen to help prepare our hearts to celebrate more fully the Holy Season of Advent and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. As always, both our adult and youth choirs will perform with talented instrumentalists. In addition, members of our Brazilian Community will perform with us, too! For more information, please contact Tom Misuraca at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us as we share the gift of music! All are invited! All are welcome!
Adult Faith Formation
Advent Mission & Retreat
December 6th-December 8th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for our Third Annual Advent Mission & Retreat from Tuesday, December 6th through Thursday, December 8th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each evening will begin with Evening Prayer & Mass at 7:00pm, followed by a reflection on the theme of “Journeying with Mary During Advent.”
Our special guest and spiritual director for this year’s Advent Mission & Retreat will be Sister Ellen Dabrieo, SND. Sister Ellen is a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame. For many years, she has served the Church in both parish ministry and as a missionary in Brazil. Sister Ellen currently serves as a hospital chaplain in Salem and as a lay minister to the Brazilian Community of Saint Thomas Church in Peabody. For more information, please see Father Jim before or after Mass or contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation
Thursday, December 8th
In honor of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Thursday, December 8th, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Masses according to the following schedule: Wednesday, December 7th (Vigil Mass) in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 7:00pm; Thursday, December 8th (Holy Day Masses) in Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am; Saint Ann Church at 12:00pm; and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 7:00pm.
Since late antiquity, the People of God have believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was sinless and conceived without original sin in the womb of her mother and our patroness, Saint Ann. This ancient belief was not defined as Church doctrine until 1854. Since then, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has been named patroness of many causes and nations, including the United States of America. So, please join us as we honor our Blessed Mother and beg her intercession for our families, our parishes, and our country. All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
Advent Faith & Family Mass
Saturday, December 17th
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 (Mt 19:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all children, parents, grandparents, and godparents are invited to join Father Jim for our Second Annual Advent Faith & Family Mass on Saturday, December 17th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special homily about Advent and a special blessing for all families and children. And every child (under age 18) will receive a special gift.
Please mark your calendars for our next Faith & Family Masses: Sunday, March 5th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and Saturday, May 13th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. For more information about our Second Annual Advent Faith & Family Mass, please see Father Jim; or contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-281-4820. Let us reaffirm that Mass is our class! Jesus is our Teacher! Every child in our pews is a gift from God! And every family in our pews is a gift from God! Please spread the word to family and friends! All families are welcome!
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Christmas Giving Trees
Share the Blessings of Christmas!
This year, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society is once again sponsoring the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Annual Christmas Giving Trees, which help share the blessings of Christmas with local families in need. The Giving Trees are located at the entrances of Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each tree is decorated with colored stars that indicate a particular Christmas wish. If you can help fulfill this wish, please take a star! Each gift should be donated new, unused, and unwrapped; and placed under the tree with the original star or delivered to our parish offices. The Christmas Giving Trees will remain at our church entrances through Sunday, December 11th. All gifts should be returned to our parish offices by Tuesday, December 13th at noon. For more information about the Giving Trees, please contact Barbara Frontiero at email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your generous support of the Christmas Giving Trees! May God bless us, everyone!
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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