This Week’s Message
Choosing to Love with Saint Francis
By Cliff Garvey
Francesco Bernadone was the medieval equivalent of the stereotypical college “fratboy.” He was obsessed with nice clothes, popular music, and pretty girls. He was rich. He was popular. He had many friends and he kept those friends happy by using his father’s influence to evade serious trouble, paying the tab, and being the life of the party. But by the time Francesco reached his early twenties, he had become disillusioned with his life. Like many members of today’s so-called “millennial” generation, Francesco longed for meaning and purpose and peace in a world that seemed fraught with superficiality, temptation, and violence. After stumbling into a church and finding himself face-to-face with the Crucified Christ, he heard and embraced a call to love that changed his life and the lives of countless others. Francesco Bernadone was just like us. He was broken. He was wounded. He was a sinner. But because he chose love above all else, he became a saint. He became Saint Francis of Assisi.
Just like Saint Francis, each time we enter a church, we are confronted by the Risen Lord who lived for us, suffered for us, died for us, and rose from death for us. We are confronted with Christ’s Great Commandment to love God and love others — regardless of who they are, where they’re from, what they’ve done, or where they stand on the issues of the day. We are called to choose love in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our parishes, and in our workplaces. We are called to love without counting the cost and without expecting anything in return. We are called to choose love over hate, mercy over judgment, and inclusion over exclusion whenever we can and however we can. In the gospels, Jesus showed us the way by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, befriending the outcast, and welcoming the stranger. In his life, Saint Francis showed us the way by caring for lepers, mending broken friendships, building bridges between different cultures, and rebuilding the church — brick by brick, person by person, soul by soul. Sometimes called a “Second Christ”, Francis teaches us to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and strengthen the Church in all that we think, say, and do.
But first, Saint Francis chose to love. And choosing to love is hard. Shortly after his conversion, Francis was called before a public assembly to answer for his decision to leave his friends and his family’s business. He was called to answer for the crimes of disrespecting his father and using his family’s financial resources to repair an almost forgotten local church. He was called to face criticism and ridicule from everyone he had ever known. Faced with this enormous pressure from his friends, family, and fellow citizens, Francis could have apologized for his recklessness, returned to the fold, and lived as a prince among men. He could have been a knight, a successful business man, or even a powerful politician. Instead, Francis answered Christ’s call. He turned away from privilege, prestige, and riches. He turned away from the way of the world and he turned toward the way of the gospel. He took the hard road of discipleship. He chose to love. He chose to love God and to love others.
More than eight centuries later, we know that living as disciples in today’s world poses its own unique challenges and temptations. Each week, we must choose between going to church or going to the mall. We must choose between praying for guidance or texting the latest news to our family and friends. We must choose between giving ourselves in fellow- ship and service to our community or binge-watching the trendy new television show. We must choose between finding common ground or sitting in judgment against those who see things differently than we do. Above all else, we are called to choose love. Saint Francis once said: “This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.” This is our vocation, too. This is the vocation to love. So, let us pray for whatever we might need to choose love — today, tomorrow, and always. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! May the Risen Lord give you peace!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Holy Family Parish
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Tuesday, October 3rd
Established in 2005, the Holy Family Parish Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages and backgrounds in prayer, fellowship, and service to our parish and the wider community. Throughout the year, the Guild hosts fundraising events and social gatherings, including the Harvest Fair (October 14th), Christmas Fair (November 18th), Palm Sunday Bake Sale, and Strawberry Festival. The Guild’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3rd at 6:30pm in Saint Ann Church Hall. Our special guest will be Phyllis Campbell, a fellow Guild member, who will share her experiences, using stories and pictures, about various missions to Cevicos in the Dominican Republic. In addition, we will play some games with all winnings being donated to the Cevicos Mission. All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us! Refreshments will be served. For more information about the Holy Family Women’s Guild, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org. New members are always welcome! Please join us!
A Vigil for Peace
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
Wednesday, October 4th
In recent months, it has become clear that the need for prayer is more important than ever. The threats of war, natural disaster, terrorism, and violence in our own country have prompted many people to reconsider basic assumptions about the long-term health and stability of our nation’s culture and institutions. These concerns inspire us to ask the Risen Lord to bless our community, our country, and our world with peace, hope, and love. In this spirit, all are invited to join us for a Vigil for Peace on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, Wednesday, October 4th, in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Our vigil will begin at 12:00pm with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. At 3:00pm, we will pray a Rosary for Peace. Our Vigil for Peace will conclude at 6:45pm with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Because we will gather for this Vigil for Peace on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, we will also pray for his guidance to become “instruments of peace” in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, communities, and country. So, please join us for all or part of this special after- noon of prayer and devotion during which we will ask for the grace, courage, and strength to be instruments of peace in our daily lives. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us and for our troubled world!
Saint Clare: Light from the Cloister
Book Study & Faith Sharing for Adults
Begins Wednesday, October 4th
This year, in celebration of the Assisi Project’s 10th Anniversary (2007-2017), Father Jim and Cliff Garvey are offering a series of adult faith formation programs designed to help us better understand the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi, his influence on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, and the timeless traditions of Franciscan prayer and spirituality. Our year-long focus on the Franciscan spiritual tradition concludes with “The Fall Read”, a four week book study and faith sharing program during which participants will read and share their reactions to Bret Thoman’s wonderful new book: “Saint Clare of Assisi: Light from the Cloister.” This intimate but easy-to-read biography of Saint Clare will lead us closer to Christ by introducing us to the best friend and perhaps most devoted follower of Saint Francis.
All adult parishioners are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff Garvey for this special program on four consecutive Wednesday evenings: October 4th through October 25th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each session will begin at 7:00pm with Evening Prayer. Cliff will then briefly introduce the readings for the week, which will be followed by discussion, questions, and faith sharing. Our gatherings will conclude at 8:30pm with Night Prayer. Books will be provided. A donation of $25.00 per person is requested from those who can afford it, along with a commitment to read the book and come prepared to ask questions and offer personal insights about the life and times of Saint Clare. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are invited! All are welcome!
Blessing of the Animals
with Father Jim
Saturday, October 7th
Saint Francis of Assisi is venerated throughout the world as the patron of animals and the environment. In belated celebration of the Feast of Saint Francis, all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport (whether your family owns a pet or not) are invited to join Father Jim for the traditional “Blessing of the Animals” on Saturday, October 7th at 12:00pm in Our Lady’s Rectory Parking Lot. All friendly family pets are welcome (but must be leashed or secured in carriers). For more information about this special annual event, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact him at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Knights of Columbus
Third Annual Golf Tournament
Friday, October 13th
All are invited to join the Knights of Columbus (Council 215) for its Third Annual Golf Tournament (best-ball) on Friday, October 13th at the Cape Ann Golf Course. The entrance fee is $125 per person and tee off is 1:00pm. Registration forms are available at kofc215.com or at the doors of Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. All proceeds will benefit the charitable works of the Knights of Columbus in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. For more information about this special event, please contact Mark Natti at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 978-281-4820. Please join us! 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. 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. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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