Our Pastor’s Message
Ten Years Later
Ten years after our first visit to Assisi, Cliff Garvey and I are convinced that our journey there was equal parts accident and miracle. Our plan, on our first-ever pilgrimage to Italy, was to focus on visiting holy sites in Rome: the Sistine Chapel, the Catacombs, and the great basilicas of Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, and Saint John Lateran. We visited those places but felt restless in Rome. Cliff disliked the noise and traffic. And I grew weary of the heat and humidity of midsummer in Italy’s capital city. So, we ventured north by train to Assisi. We planned to stay a day or two, but just in case, we reserved rooms in a religious guest house for four nights. Upon our arrival in Assisi, I left Cliff at the curb and went in search of bus tickets or a taxi to take us up into the walled city of Assisi, hometown of Saint Francis, which is built into side of Mount Subasio. When I returned, Cliff was staring up at Assisi, seemingly mesmerized by its simple beauty. I asked: “What’s wrong?” He replied: “I’m not leaving. I’m never leaving.” And thus began a decade-long spiritual odyssey with Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Just minutes after arriving in Assisi for the first time, we learned that Pope Benedict XVI would soon be there to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the conversion of Saint Francis. On the appointed day, we waited patiently for several hours in the hot sun for the pope’s arrival. Suddenly, the cathedral bells rang, the pope-mobile appeared, and Pope Benedict, who the local people called the “little holy one”, began a slow procession toward the church. While taking dozens of photographs, I lost track of Cliff, who had been standing between two elderly women along the rope line. When the Holy Father disappeared into the church, I turned and saw that Cliff had fallen to his knees. I asked again: “What’s wrong?” He replied through tears: “I touched the pope!” In fact, Cliff had touched Pope Benedict’s hand and the ring that symbolizes the pope’s role as the Vicar of Christ on earth. It was a moment of pure grace and joy.
On that same day, Cliff and I decided that we wanted to bring the “Spirit of Assisi” back to our parish and to bring people from our parish back to Assisi so that they could experience that same spirit for themselves. The Assisi Project was born! During the past nine years, we have led pilgrimages to Assisi and to the Holy Land. We have led days of prayer, weekend retreats, and parish missions through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. And we have grown from a fellowship of two friends on pilgrimage to an international fellowship with active members, friends, and followers on five continents. At this point, approximately one-half of our active members are fellow parishioners here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport.
During this tenth anniversary year, the Assisi Project will begin meeting on the last Saturday morning of every month for Mass, formation, and faith sharing. We plan to sponsor a Spring Day of Prayer & Reflection in May (in partnership with the Legion of Mary) and an Autumn Day of Prayer & Reflection (in cele- bration of the Feast of Saint Francis). We plan to sponsor another icon raffle this spring to benefit the good work of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. We plan to host a series of “micro-retreats” at a hermitage in Maine for those seeking a weekend of peace, prayer, and silence. We plan to host a summer barbecue in July and an Advent & Christmas celebration in December. Best of all, we will announce plans next week- end for our 10th Annual Fall Pilgrimage to Assisi in November! All are invited and welcome to participate in these programs and events. And you need not travel to Assisi with us to be a part of the Assisi Project. You need only an open heart, a longing to live the Gospel, and a desire to grow closer to Christ Jesus by learning from the life and example of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
In addition to his ministry with the Assisi Project (and his other duties), I have asked Cliff to coordinate a series of seasonal adult faith formation programs during the coming year that will help us better understand the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi, his influence on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, and the Franciscan tradition of prayer and spirituality. At this point, Cliff has visited Assisi more than twenty times, lives a simple life as a “Franciscan in Spirit”, and likes to say: “I live in the United States, but my heart beats in Assisi.” So, we have much to look forward to during the coming year! For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please see me or contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com.
Peace and blessings to all for a happy new year!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
World Day of Peace
January 1, 2017
The so-called “just war” tradition may be the Roman Catholic Church’s best-known contribution to the ongoing threat of violent conflict in our troubled world. This tradition developed as a way to reduce humankind’s recourse to war and to limit its humanitarian consequences. But the Church also offers another ancient tradition that is deeply rooted in the Gospel of Christ. Lesser known is the Catholic Church’s longstanding commitment to active non-violence and to building a “just peace” in our communities, country, and world. Gospel non-violence is not passive. Rather, it involves an active and strategic approach to conflict resolution, restorative justice, peace-making, and the protection of unarmed civilian populations. Seeking a just peace is not about justifying armed conflict. It is about preventing violence and war by addressing its causes, building relationships, and actively facilitating healing and reconciliation.
On January 1st, the Catholic Church around the world celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the Fiftieth World Day of Peace. In his annual New Year’s message, Pope Francis urges all families, faith communities, government leaders, and the international community of nations to practice creative non-violence and to build a just peace throughout the world. In response to the Holy Father’s call to peace, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers three ways that all of us can become peacemakers and actively participate in creating a true and lasting global peace: act, learn, and pray.
First, we can act by joining thousands of peacemakers who advocate for public policies that build peace at home and around the world. Second, we can learn about creative non-violence and active peacemaking by reading the Holy Father’s New Year’s Message, the USCCB’s “The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace”, and other related documents (see links below). Third, we can pray for peace in our families, parish, hometown, country, and world by using this prayer which was composed for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) by Therese Wilson-Favors, a longtime advocate for peace and non-violence (Source: USCCB.org).
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness,
no thought of ours is left unnoticed,
no desire or concern ignored.
You have proven that blessings abound
when we fall on our knees in prayer,
and so we turn to you in our hour of need.
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice,
we hear your voice telling us what is required:
“Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).”
Fill us with your mercy,
so that we may be merciful to others.
Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism
so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities.
Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only
to the rhythm of your holy will.
Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly
toward a future filled with encounter and unity.L
Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts,
for only by the prompting of your grace
can we progress toward virtue.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us!
Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, pray for us!
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Adult Faith Formation
RCIA & Adult Confirmation
If you are an adult (age 18 and over) and have not re- ceived the Sacraments of Baptism, First Penance & Reconciliation (Confession), First Eucharist, and/or Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church, then please prayerfully consider joining our adult faith formation fellowship which will meet on Sundays after the 8:15am Mass beginning on January 29th in Saint Ann Parish House. Over the course of the next four months, our program will meet regularly (for approximately one hour) to prepare interested adults for reception into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 15th. We will learn about the teachings and traditions of the Church and ad- dress the challenge of living a life of faith in the modern world. If you or someone you love would like to join us in preparing for the Sacraments of God’s Church, then please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Youth Faith Formation
Confirmation Preparation Program
Begins February 5th
For too many teenagers, Confirmation has sadly become a kind of graduation from the Church, rather than the joyful beginning of life as an adult disciple in the Church. We hope to end this tragic ambivalence by transforming sacramental preparation into an engaging process for the whole family. First, we will place primary focus on attending Mass. For more than a century, the Church has asked every parish to provide a sacramental preparation program for children. During recent decades, however, we have neglected to remind parents of their baptismal promise to be the first teachers of their children in all matters related to faith and morals; and that the most important component of that responsibility is attending Mass as a family. In our increasingly busy world, its has become common for parents to entrust their children to us for an hour of instruction but not join us for Mass each weekend. So, we will continue to ask parents to dedicate one hour each week to their child’s religious education — by bringing them to church!
In addition, all high school students (beginning in the ninth grade) are invited to participate in our two-year program of formation that will prepare them to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the first year, students will participate in a series of interactive workshops about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. These sessions will begin on Sunday, February 5th and coincide with our weekend Mass schedule. During the second year, students will participate in four additional workshops (and a four hour mini-retreat) designed to help them grow in prayer, fellowship, and service; to prepare them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and to jumpstart their lives as faith-filled young adult disciples. If your child is currently in high school and wants to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation, please complete a registration form (see link below) and return it to us as soon as possible. For more information, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. At parishpay.com, 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. So, please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. For assistance with creating an account, please contact Claire Murphy at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
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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