This Week’s Message
A Call to Joy
By Cliff Garvey
The last year of the second millennium was the worst year of my life. In January 1999, after a long period of almost unimaginable suffering, my grandfather, John J. Garvey, Jr., passed away at age 87. Anyone who knows me well has heard me talk about my grandfather. Pop survived an orphanage, a world war, childhood poverty, and discrimination from those who refused to employ the son of an immigrant. But Pop lived a good life. He was honest and kind. He enjoyed simple pleasures. He meant the world to me. At the age of 86, while walking home from the market, Pop was hit by a car. Although he recovered quickly from the physical injuries, he never recovered from the emotional trauma of the accident. He soon suffered a series of strokes that caused blindness, paralysis, and eventually dementia. I said goodbye to my grandfather for the last time on Christmas Day. He died a few weeks later. I still miss him every single day.
At the time, I was working as a consultant for a large law firm in Portland, Maine. After my grandfather’s funeral, I returned to work and was soon buried beneath a mountain of client demands and deadlines. And in walked Peter Feeney. Peter was one of our contractors. He had no time for grief or sadness. He had ambitions, ideas, and plans for the future. Peter was the youngest person ever elected a county commissioner in Maine; and he was already planning a run for the state legislature, and he envisioned a future campaign for governor. Peter’s energy and sense of humor were infectious. Along with another close friend, Peter did not allow me to brood over my grandfather’s death. Ballgames and concerts needed to be attended. Menus at new restaurants needed to be sampled. Work needed to be done. Between clients and work and friends like Peter, the fog of grief that had clouded the new year lifted. Life goes on. Or so I believed.
On the final work day before Christmas 1999, Peter joined me and a gathering of friends at a local pub in Portland’s Old Port Exchange. We ate and drank and laughed and wished each other a Merry Christmas. We toasted the coming new year, the new century, and the new millennium. But on December 26th, Peter died of a heart attack. Laughing and full of life one moment, he was gone the next. Peter was just 26 years old. His death was an unspeakable shock to his family, friends, and colleagues. It seemed impossible then. It seems impossible now. I could not process Peter’s death. I could not fathom how God could allow it to happen. Indeed, from my humble point of view, God had a lot of explaining to do. And then there was the timing. December 26th. I still cannot imagine how Peter’s family copes with their grief. But for me, Christmas has never been the same. Falling leaves and cold winds lead to shorter days and longer nights. The world grows dark and the darkness reminds me again and again of that awful year that began with the death of my grandfather and ended with the death of my friend.
This year promised to be no different. Summer ended and autumn passed. Advent began. Christmas was just around the corner. The memories returned, along with the anger, grief, and sadness. Darkness loomed. But then, a moment of grace, a flicker of light. After an almost sleepless night, I realized that the sun rises. After a long winter, the spring blossoms. From despair comes hope. From death comes resurrection. From darkness comes light. From Advent comes Christmas. And from within a manger comes the brightest light of all. A Savior will be born to us! Suddenly, I now see my grandfather not as he was during that last Christmas goodbye, blind and paralyzed, but as a soul born into and out of the light. And I see my friend, not as the spirit of a life cut so short, but as a soul born into and out of that same light.
Christ is the light of the world! He is our sight in blindness, our light in the darkness. He dispels every shadow, enlightens every mind, and illumines every soul. He binds every wound, consoles every broken heart, and brings strength to the weak. He brings riches to the poor, welcomes the stranger, and lifts high all who are bowed low. He brings glad tidings to all who look to him with faith, hope, and love. And at Christmas, Christ will be born among us. He will live with us, walk with us, grieve with us, suffer with us, die with us, and rise with us.
As we begin the Third Week of Advent with Gaudete Sunday, we are called to rejoice in the coming of the true light of the world. We are called to rejoice in the coming birth of a savior who will love us without conditions or limits, who will keep faith with us come what may, who will abide with us from birth through death and beyond. Let us answer this call by praying for those who are lost in the darkness of addiction, grief, loneliness, pain, or poverty. Let us reach out to them in prayer, fellowship, and service. And let us pray that all people everywhere might experience that moment of grace that leads them from darkness into the glorious light of Christmas. Joy! Joy! Joy!
May the Lord give you peace and joy!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Special Message of Thanks
It is not possible to thank each and every parishioner who contributes their time, talent, and treasure to making our parish communities such miraculous places to love and serve the Lord. Nevertheless, Father Jim wishes to thank some very special people for their hard work and dedication to Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. First, let us thank the members of Our Lady’s Guild for their strong commitment and long hours in building fellowship and raising funds for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Last weekend, the Guild’s Annual Christmas Fair raised more than $7,500 for our parish. Thanks to all Guild members, sweetbread bakers, and volunteers! Likewise, we thank the members of the Women’s Guild at Holy Family Parish for making the Annual Christmas Fair such a huge success. This year, the fair raised approximately $22,500 for our parish. The Guild’s energy and enthusiasm for their work is both amazing and infectious! Peace, blessings, and thanks to all for a job well done! May God bless our volunteers and their families!
Annual Advent Gathering
Sunday, December 11th
All are invited to join the Assisi Project for its Ninth Annual Advent Gathering beginning with Mass at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, we will adjourn to Our Lady’s Hall for a light lunch of homemade soup, bread, and dessert. Finally, we’ll share some exciting news about our tenth anniversary year as a fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit.” Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” that works to help people grow closer to Christ through the intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. For more information about the Assisi Project and it good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace during this Holy Season of Advent!
Our Lady’s Guild
Annual Christmas Party
Monday, December 12th
Our Lady’s Guild is hosting its Annual Christmas Party on Monday, December 12th beginning at 6:30pm in the Parish Hall. Our meal will feature a hot buffet, dessert, and coffee. In addition, we will have a door prize, 50-50 raffle, and entertainment provided by Alexandra Grace and Josh Cominelli. If you wish to participate in our annu- al Christmas gift swap, please bring a wrapped present (under $10)! For more information about Our Lady’s Guild and its good work in our parish; or to reserve your seat at the Annual Christmas Party, please contact Linda Galvin at email@example.com. New members are always welcome! Please join us! Merry Christmas!
The Light Is On For You!
Confessions & Eucharistic Adoration
Thursday, December 15th
The Holy Season of Advent is a time for prayer, penance, and preparation; a time to make ready for the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. This Advent, all are invited to experience Christ’s boundless love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) and through prayerful adoration of the Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. On Thursday, December 15th and Thursday, December 22nd from 6:00pm until 8:00pm, all are invited to join us for “The Light Is On For You!” at Saint Ann Church.
These special evenings of prayer will include Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and an opportunity for all who feel called to participate in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation. For some, this may be a time for sacramental confession. For some it may be a time for silent prayer and reflection. And for some, it may be a time to begin or renew a life of faith. Wherever you are on your faith journey, please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Mr. & Mrs. Secret Santa
Saturday, December 17th
Again this year, Mr. & Mrs. Secret Santa cordially invite you to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s Clothes Closet at Christmastime! We have a large assortment of clothing for the whole family! And we hope that there may be something for you, too, as we share the blessings of generous giving during this holiday season! On Saturday, December 17th from 9:00am until 1:00pm, all are welcome to come and browse in the Clothes Closet in search of that special gift! Mr. & Mrs. Secret Santa will provide an extra outfit or much needed item for all friends who join us! The Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s Clothes Closet is located on the basement level of Saint Ann School with an entrance from the school yard on Pleasant Street. Who is the Secret Santa? We’ll never tell! For more information about Mr. & Mrs. Secret Santa and the Clothes Closet, please contact Helen Downey at email@example.com. Merry Christmas!
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 (Matthew 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. In addition, 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, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mass is our class! Jesus is our Teacher! Every child in our pews is a gift from God! All families are welcome!
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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