This Week’s Message
A Refugee in the Family
By Cliff Garvey
Marion Solomon lived a typical twentieth-century American life. Part of the “Greatest Generation” that fought and won the Second World War, she served in the United States Naval Women’s Reserve (better known as the WAVES). Shortly after the war ended, she married a young sailor and together they raised a family. They had four children, six grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren. Marion and Millard were rich in love, but working class to the core. They worked hard to make ends meet. And yet like so many other couples of their generation, they managed to buy a car and a modest home. They bought a small boat and a camper. They even bought some land and saved for retirement. They lived the American Dream.
Marion was devoutly Catholic and attended Mass every Sunday at Saint Mary’s Church. She also attended church bingo almost every Friday night. She liked to play cards. She wrote letters to her sisters and sisters-in-law who lived scattered across the country. She had a green thumb. She made delicious potato pancakes. She crocheted and knitted and canned fruits and vegetables. She loved her husband. She loved her family and friends. And they loved her back. She was a Gold Star Mother, whose younger son died in Vietnam. And when her husband died at age 58, just months before their long-planned early retirement, her family did not think she would survive on her own. But she rallied and lived life to the fullest.
Marion Solomon was my grandmother. We know very little about her early life. We know that she was born in a small village in what was then Czechoslovakia, but is now the Republic of Slovakia. We know that she was baptized in a small country church. We know that just weeks or months after German troops invaded her homeland in 1938, she was smuggled out of the village and out of the country. We know that part of her escape involved crawling under a barbed wire fence. We know that she carried all of her belongings in a single brown paper bag. And we know that she was placed on a cargo ship bound for the United States. She was just sixteen years old. She was all alone. And she was a refugee.
We know that somewhere along the way, she became a citizen, learned to speak English, and served her adopted country in uniform. We know little else. We don’t know why she alone among her four siblings was sent in search of a better life on the other side of the world. We don’t know who welcomed her or who cared for her when she completed the long journey across a vast ocean. We don’t know how her father died. We know only that he did not survive the war. My grandmother never spoke about her experiences during the war with her children and grandchildren. And sadly, tragically, we didn’t ask. In fact, it has only been during the last few weeks (long after her death) that our family has begun to ask questions about my grandmother’s remarkable story. For now, we can only look back in wonder and awe at this refugee in the family.
The United Nations defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” It is too soon in our research to draw any firm conclusions about why my great-grandparents sent their eldest daughter to America. But a basic un- derstanding of history teaches us that the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia was an unimaginable horror for Jews, Catholics, and Slovakian patriots. It’s clear to me that my grandmother was a refugee. It’s also clear that a life that once seemed so typical of the times was really quite extraordinary; and that my grandmother was a person of great courage, fortitude, and perseverance.
In the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee writes: “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” My grandmother’s story is not intended to change any minds in the ongoing debate about immigration policy and refugee resettlement. Those issues are best considered by learning about the teachings of the Church, praying with the Gospels, and examining one’s own conscience. Instead, my grandmother’s story reminds us that the human experience is sometimes more complicated than it seems. It reminds us that there are sometimes no easy answers to complex problems. And it reminds us that a person we pass in the street, a person we sit beside in church, or a person we knew our whole life might just have something to teach us about how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. For these reasons and for so much else, I am so grateful for my grandmother. And I am so grateful to have had a refugee in the family. May the Lord give you peace!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Grand Annual Collection
Our Goal: $50,000 | Donations So Far: $22,345
Nearly three years ago, Cardinal Seán O’Malley established the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport as a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Although our parishes share one pastor and pastoral team, each parish remains fully and canonically independent; maintains its own back accounts and accounting procedures; and continues to be solely responsible for its own bills, building maintenance, and pastoral programs. During the past two years, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish has been blessed in many ways. Despite necessary changes to our worship schedule, attendance is good and growing (especially among young adults and young families at our 11:45am Sunday Mass). Fundraising events and the Annual Crowning Feast of the Holy Spirit remain successful both by raising needed funds and by building and strengthening our parish as a vibrant community of prayer, fellowship, and service. And although it sometimes has been difficult, parishioners from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are now praying together, working together, and helping each other to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church here in Gloucester and Rockport.
Despite these blessings, we face serious financial challenges at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. For the second straight year, we have been unable to balance our budget. These imbalances have been caused by those necessary changes to our worship schedule; increasing costs associated with building maintenance; and the loss of an anonymous benefactor whose generous donations over the course of many years contributed to the financial stability of the parish. Since the creation of our collaborative, we have worked diligently to significantly reduce our operating costs across the board: wages and benefits, office administration and equipment, and especially utilities without diminishing the pastoral ministries of our parish. Despite these efficiencies and more professional accounting procedures, we are unable to balance our annual budget. This means that we have been forced again and again to use funds from our savings account in order to make ends meet on a weekly basis. Inserted into this week’s newsletter is our Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2016 which summarizes our actual income and expenses in various categories; and our budget for the coming fiscal year. This report is also available in our pastoral office and is posted below.
For these reasons, I am writing to ask all parishioners at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to help me raise $50,000 during this year’s Grand Annual Collection. This fundraising campaign is vitally important to our parish’s annual budget and our long-term financial stability. It helps us bridge the gap between our weekly offerings and our financial obligations (such as salaries and benefits, insurance premiums, essential parish programs, routine building maintenance and repair, utilities, snow plowing, and stipends for our senior priests). Each year, we ask all parishioners to contribute whatever they can to our Grand Annual Collection. This year, it is especially important! Every contribution, whether it’s $10 or $100, helps us to achieve our goal of a balanced budget. Every penny raised goes directly to Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Anyone who tells you something else is simply not telling the truth!
Every registered parish family has received an offertory envelope for the Grand Annual Collection. Please place your offering in the collection basket at Mass during the weekend or mail it to me as soon as possible. Additional envelopes will be available at the doors of the church. As our Grand Annual Collection begins, please join me in praying that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to this all-important fundraising effort. Finally, please accept my deepest thanks for your prayers and encouragement during my second year as your pastor. Your kindness and support humble me and sustain me in my ministry. Please continue to pray for me, for our dedicated pastoral team, and for each other; and please know that you and your family are always in my prayers. Thank you in advance for your prayers and generous support of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish!
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Youth Faith Formation
Catholic Kids Camp
Begins Tuesday, February 21st
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is pleased to announce that all children (ages 5 through 11) are invited to participate in our next Catholic Kids Camp: Parade Around the Our Father from Tuesday, February 21st through Friday, February 24th from 8:00am until 12:00pm at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this exciting week of prayer and fellowship, children will learn about the Lord’s Prayer through active and engaged participation in games, music, skits, and craft projects. Here’s the schedule for the week:
- Day I: Tuesday, February 21st God Listens
- Day II: Wednesday, February 22nd God Provides
- Day III: Thursday, February 23rd God Forgives
- Day IV: Friday, February 24th God Guides
Each day of our Catholic Kids Camp will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. All parents, grandparents, and guardians are welcome to join us! After Mass, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead the children to Our Lady’s School for a faith-filled and fun-filled morning of activities, learning, and good times with friends both old and new. Catholic Kids Camp is a fun, exciting, and educational program that your children and grandchildren will love!
The tuition for this innovative youth faith formation program during the winter school vacation is just $25 per child for the entire week! Scholarships are available for those families who cannot afford tuition. Also, adults and older children (ages 12 and up) are welcome to join us as volunteers and will be much appreciated! For more information about our next Catholic Kids Camp: Parade Around the Our Father, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Tenth Anniversary Year 2007-2017
Saturday, February 25th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is a fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” with friends and followers around the world. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project now meets on the last Saturday of each month in Saint Ann Church for Mass, formation, and fellowship. Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 25th at 8:00am. If you are interested in growing closer to Christ through the guidance and intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi, please prayerfully consider joining us! All are welcome! For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace, now and always!
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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