FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

This Week’s Message
The Joy & Power of the Rosary

By Cliff Garvey

My personal relationship with the Blessed Mother and her Rosary can be best described as the proverbial “long and winding road.” When my faith journey began more than twenty-five years ago, I was initially very reluctant to ask Our Lady for help and guidance. I feared that a more devotional spirituality would lead me away from Christ. I feared that repeating “pray for us, sinners” over and over again would lead to unexpected consequences. And I believed that I should be in charge of my own spiritual life. Needless to say, fear, pride, and stupidity were my primary motivations back then.

Over the course of long years, however, Mary found her way into my life in unexpected ways. I found a roughly carved, homemade statue of Our Lady in a parish closet that seemed to have been left waiting for me. I listened to a priest who left a lasting impression with a simple homily about the faithful discipleship of the Blessed Mother and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the Cross. I made a friend, more than forty years older than me, who badgered, encouraged, and pleaded with me to open my heart to the Blessed Virgin. And finally, I met Archbishop Francisco Viti of Huambo, Angola in the confessional booth at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.

For the better part of a decade, Archbishop Viti directed my annual retreats in Assisi. He personally met with me every day. He gave me passages from the scriptures to read and remember during times of trial. He celebrated Mass with me and for my intentions at the tomb of Saint Francis. He believed that we were brought together for a reason — that he should be my spiritual father and that I should be his spiritual son. Across a vast ocean, despite our different cultures and races, we are never far from each other’s thoughts and prayers. Wherever we are in the world, we can turn to each other (through the miracle of modern technology) for prayer and counsel.

During our last meeting in Assisi, just weeks before he returned permanently to Angola, Archbishop Viti encouraged me to grow closer to the Blessed Mother. He talked with me about his childhood in Angola; about how he had been forced to work like a slave by building streets in Huambo; and about how he had been taught to pray the Rosary by his own mother. He talked with me about his experi- ences during Angola’s civil war; about violence and destruction and death threats; and about how much Mary meant to him. He told me about how much comfort and strength he took from his relationship with her; and how much closer he grew to the Lord by, through, and with her prayers. Ultimately, he told me with the authority of an archbishop that one cannot grow closer to Christ without knowing his mother.

When he could see that his words were not having their desired effect, he took me by the arm, led me through a series of hallways and dark passageways, and finally opened a narrow door. We walked through the door and found ourselves in the Lower Basilica of Saint Francis, at a side altar dedicated to the Blessed Mother. He pulled a stole from his pocket, placed it around his neck, ordered me to kneel, put his hands on my head, and began to pray in Latin. In all honesty, I did not understand what was happening. For one brief moment, I feared that I was being ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Huambo and that I would be bound for Angola — forever!

Soon, I realized that Archbishop Viti was praying for me and for the intercession of Our Lady, so that my heart and mind would be opened to her love and prayers. I felt deeply consoled, deeply blessed, and deeply grateful. But I still did not fully appreciate what happened that day in the Basilica of Saint Francis. Almost one year later, I wrote to Archbishop Viti and asked him to explain what he had prayed for that day.

He wrote back: “My son, during these last few days, I have been thinking about you and your question. When I anointed you at the altar of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, I said a prayer through which I consecrated your life to Our Lady. It was not from a book but from my heart as a son of Mary. I consecrated you to her as I was consecrated myself at the age of twelve in 1945. The Mother of God has protected me like a mother. Through suffering, illness, and persecution, and in moments when I could not understand my life, I found refuge and comfort in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Four years later, this message still takes my breath away.

My journey has been long and it continues now. But that’s how it works. Our journey is Mary’s journey. Our journey with her is the journey of the Church. Just as Mary nurtured the Christ Child born in a manger, she nurtures us through her love and her prayers. Just as she walked with Jesus along the dusty roads of Galilee, she walks with us when we en- counter love and joy, pain and sadness, strength and weakness.

Just as Mary stood in prayer at the foot of the Cross, she stands in prayer with us and for us when we’re happy, when we’re grieving, when we’re healthy or sick, when we’re young, and when we’re near death. She stands with us as she stood with her crucified son: devotedly, lovingly, unconditionally. And just as Mary rejoiced with the disciples when the Lord was risen from death, she rejoices with us when we find joy in life’s simple pleasures; when we reach out to the poor, the sick, and the hungry; and when we grow in prayer, fellowship, and service. This is my journey with our Blessed Mother. This is my long and winding road. What’s yours?

Cliff Garvey
Associate Minister
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Contact: cgarvey@ccgronline.com

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (5-14-17)  
Bringing Home the Word (5-14-17)

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The Assisi Project
Spring Icon Raffle
Now Through June 10th

SWEET KISSES
Now through June 10th, the Assisi Project is sponsoring a Spring Raffle for a beautiful hand painted icon called “Sweet Kisses” which beautifully depicts Our Blessed Mother holding her Son. Throughout the Christian world, icons are venerated as windows into heaven and are known to be powerful instruments of divine grace and miracles. This particular icon was handcrafted in Greece using traditional tempera paint and gold leaf. It was blessed on the relics of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, a third century saint whose incorrupt relics are believed to be the source of many miracles. All proceeds from the Assisi Project’s Spring Raffle will be donated to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. A donation of $1.00 per ticket is requested. We hope to raise $2,000! Tickets can be purchased after various daily and weekend Masses in our churches; at our parish offices; and by contacting Cliff Garvey at cgarvey@ccgronline.com. Thank you for your generous support!

Learn More: The Assisi Project 

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Holy Family Parish
Cevicos Mission Request for Prayers

Missionaries sponsored by Holy Family Parish will be making their next trip to Cevicos, Dominican Republic, from May 13th through May 20th. Throughout the week, they will be holding medical clinics, making home visits, and sharing in the prayer life of the local community. This year, our missionaries will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, the patroness of the congregation of sisters who are our partners in bringing Christ to families and families to Christ. During this week of prayer, fellowship, and service in Cevicos, please pray for our missionaries, for the sisters (Las Hermanas Dominicas de Fatima), and for the good people of Cevicos. For more information about the Holy Family Parish Mission in Cevicos and its good work, please contact info@holyfamilycevicos.com or visit our website: holyfamilycevicos.com. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

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Holy Family Women’s Guild
Jalapeno’s Restaurant Fundraiser
Wednesday, May 17th

On Wednesday, May 17th, all are invited to join the Holy Family Women’s Guild for a fundraising night at Jalapeno’s Restaurant, which is located at 86 Main Street in Gloucester. Beginning at 4:00pm until closing, Jalapeno’s will donate 10% of all dinner checks (including take-out) to Holy Family Parish! Please invite your family, friends, and neighbors for an evening of good food, fellowship, and fundraising for our parish! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!

Established in 2005 with the creation of Holy Family Parish, the Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages in prayer, fellowship, and service to the parish and wider community. Throughout the year, the Holy Family Parish Women’s Guild hosts various fundraising events and social gatherings, including the Palm Sunday Bake Sale, the Strawberry Festival in June, the Harvest Festival in October, and the Christmas Fair in December. The Women’s Guild meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm in the Monsignor Sullivan Hall of Saint Ann Church. For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at lbertolino4@msn.com. Please join us! All are welcome!

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Our Lady of Good Voyage
Crowning Penny Sale
Monday, May 22nd

All parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish for the next “Penny Sale” on Monday, May 22nd at 7:00pm in Our Lady’s Hall. As always, we’ll have great prizes, delicious home-made sweet bread, delicious food and snacks, and a 50-50 raffle. All proceeds from the Penny Sale benefit Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Donations are being accepted at our parish office (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester) during regular business hours. For more information, please contact Linda Galvin at lingalv2020@gmail.com. Please join us! All are welcome!

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About Us

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. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport.

Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline