This Week’s Message
The Question of America
By Cliff Garvey
For the past twelve years, I taught undergraduate courses in American government at a local university. Most of my students were freshmen. And most of them were not very interested in politics and public policy. So, my challenge was to connect our academic work with how politics and politicians work in the real world. Each semester began with a discussion about how the United States is unique among the nations of the world. Not necessarily better, but different. Unlike other countries, whose identity is rooted in a common culture, language, religion, race, or ethnicity, our national identity is based on our commitment to five core values and beliefs. Scholars identify these as freedom, democracy, equality, capitalism, and a delicate balance between individual interests and the common good. By this standard, whether we are born in Massachusetts or Mozambique, one becomes an American by believing in certain basic principles.
Three months ago, millions of Americans voted in our national elections. A new president was chosen according to the terms of our constitutional tradition. And last month, we commemorated the peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next. But during the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens have taken to the streets or to social media platforms in order to protest a presidential order that bans travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations to the United States. The order also suspends our country’s entire refugee admissions program for three months; suspends indefinitely our resettlement program for Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war; and reduces by half the total number of refugees that will be allowed into our country this year. At this point, a federal judge has blocked implementation of this order and the issue is being contested in the federal courts.
People of faith and goodwill can respectfully disagree over our country’s immigration and refugee resettlement policies. That is the nature of our democratic republic. As Catholics, however, our opinions about these and other difficult issues should be shaped by our understanding of the scriptures, the teachings and traditions of the Church, the guidance of- fered by our bishops and pastors, and our own individual consciences. Throughout the New Testament, we find a preference for the poor and the weak, and a call to welcome the stranger as if he were Christ himself (See Matthew 25). In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we learn that while government has a duty to defend national borders, it also has an equally compelling responsibility to welcome and care for immigrants and refugees (CCC 2241). And in recent days, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has strongly objected to the president’s executive order and renewed its call for comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.
In addition, Pope Francis has consistently urged the world’s wealthiest nations to welcome immigrants and refugees with generosity and love. For example, during his speech last year to a Joint Session of the United States Congress, the Holy Father said: “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities that we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, then let us give security. If we want life, then let us give life. If we want opportunities, then let us offer opportunities.” Pope Francis pleaded with our elected representatives to be guided in their decisions by the Golden Rule and by our best instincts, not by bigotry or fear.
Likewise, Cardinal Sean wrote last week in the Boston Globe (2-2-17) that our leaders should make important decisions about immigrants and refugees based on our shared religious beliefs and core values as a people. These are the same core values and beliefs that I shared with my students for more than a decade. These are the principles that created our country’s astonishing power and wealth. These are the principles that shine so brightly throughout the world and beckon people of all colors and creeds to our shores. And these are the principles that prompt us to balance our individual interests with what is best for all people, especially our brothers and sisters who may have never enjoyed what we sometimes take for granted: the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In his book, “The American Soul”, Jacob Needleman writes: “The deeper hope of America was its vision of what humanity is and can become, individually and in community. It was through that vision that all the material and social promise of America took its fire and light and its voice that called to men and women within its own borders and throughout the world. America was once a great idea, and it is such ideas that move the world, that open the possibility of meaning in human life…The question of America is there: if America loses the meaning of its existence and if, in fact, America is now the dominant cultural influence in the world, then what will become of the world?” Let us pray that our answer to this challenging question will be inspired by the basic principles of our democracy, the Judeo-Christian traditions of charity, goodwill, and love of neighbor, and the opening of our hearts, minds, and arms to embrace the stranger as we would wish to embrace Christ himself. May the Lord give you peace, now and always!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Statement of the Cape Ann Clergy
With sadness and resolve, we add our names to the thousands of clergy and people of faith who have spoken out against the recent executive order temporarily suspending immigration and refugee resettlement from seven Muslim majority nations. We believe this action is discriminatory and shows hostility toward our nation’s founding principles. Rather than protect us, we believe it will weaken us and lead us toward increased conflict and violence. All of our faith traditions teach us that we must stand against oppression and protect the most vulnerable and despised in our society.
Our identity as citizens of the United States includes a pride that our nation can be a refuge of hope and freedom for those in need. We reject any effort to shut our nation’s doors on the most vulnerable. We recommit ourselves to the work of protecting and advancing the dignity of all human beings and fulfilling the vision of the prophet Isaiah: “If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will become like midday (Isaiah 58:10).”
Reverend James M. Achadinha
Pastor, Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Reverend Thomas L. Bentley
Pastor, Trinity Congregational Church
Reverend Anne Deneen
Pastor, Saint Paul Lutheran Church
Reverend Mr. Dan Dunn
Senior Deacon, Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Reverend Alice W. Erickson
United Church of Christ
Reverend Wendy Fitting
Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Universalist Church of Gloucester
Reverend Paul Flammia
Pastor, Saint John Church & Sacred Heart Church
Very Reverend Ronald J. Gariboldi, V.F.
Senior Priest, Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Reverend Mike Gelsomini, Pastor
West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church
Reverend Derek van Gulden
Pastor, First Congregational Church of Rockport
Reverend Bret B. Hays
Rector, Saint John Episcopal Church
Pastor, Union Congregational Church
Reverend Sue Koehler-Arsenault
Rabbi Steven A. Lewis
Temple Ahavat Achim
Reverend Art McDonald
Universalist Church of Essex
Reverend Susan Moran
Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport
Reverend David C. Myers
Pastor, United Methodist Church of Gloucester & Rockport
Reverend Janet D. Parsons
Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church
Reverend John R. Sachs, SJ
Eastern Point Retreat House
Tyndall United Church of Christ
Reverend Karin E. Wade
Rector, Saint Mary Episcopal Church
Reverend Dierdre Greenwood White
Annisquam Village Church
Reverend Richard H. White
Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Reverend Dr. Timothy M. Ziegenhals
First Congregational Church of Essex
World Day of the Sick
Saturday, February 11th
This weekend, the Catholic Church throughout the world commemorates the 25th Annual World Day of the Sick. In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport (Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish), this is a unique opportunity for our community to pray for those who suffer with chronic or terminal illnesses and to celebrate God’s healing, love, and mercy for all who suffer and for all who care for them.
In his message for the World Day of the Sick 2017, Pope Francis writes: “This day is an opportunity to reflect on the needs of the sick and of all who suffer. It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers, and volunteers to give thanks for their God-given vocations to accompany those who suffer. Likewise, this celebration gives the whole Church renewed spiritual energy to carry out more fully the fundamental part of her mission to serve the poor, the sick, the suffering, and the marginalized in our societies.” As we commemorate the World Day of the Sick, let us lift our hearts and voices to the Lord on behalf of those who are sick, suffering, or dying. May God bless them, comfort them, and strengthen them with the balm of his healing love and mercy.
A Prayer for the Sick
Almighty God and Father,
all praise and glory is yours
for you have called us to serve you in love.
Bless you servant, N.,
so that he/she may bear their illness
in union with your Son’s obedient suffering.
Restore him/her to health, and lead him/her to glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer for the Dying
Lord Jesus Christ,
as you stood by the bed of Saint Joseph
and gently led him home to heaven,
so shepherd every soul about to die
to a paradise of perfect peace.
Let the tears we shed upon their passing
stand witness to our love for them
and the depth of our thanksgiving
for the gift of their lives
and the grace of a good death.
For you are our Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Valentine’s Day Bake Sale
During the weekend of February 11th—February 12th, the Holy Family Women’s Guild will host a Bake Sale after the 4:00pm Mass in Saint Ann Church, 8:15am Mass in Saint Ann Church, and 10:00am Mass in Saint Joachim Church. As always, we will have homemade cakes and cookies, brownies and other baked goods for sale. Here’s your chance to buy something sweet for someone you love and to support Holy Family Parish at the same time! For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at email@example.com; or Janet Lucido at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your generous support! Please join us! All are invited! All 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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline