Our Pastor’s Message
By Father Jim
As a priest and pastor, I am called to consecrate the simple gifts of bread and wine that become the spiritual food that strengthens us, sustains us, and serves the source and summit of our shared faith. I am called to celebrate with you during the baptisms and weddings of your children, grandchildren, and godchildren. I am called to absolve your sins and shortcomings in the sacred privacy of the confessional. I am called to anoint you with the oil of God’s love and mercy when you are sick. And I am called to mourn with you and your family during moments of grief and despair.
During those darker times, when death knocks at your family’s door, I am usually able to console you with a sympathetic word or warm embrace. Sometimes we talk about a long life well-lived, about grandchildren and great-grandchildren, about jobs and hobbies, or about fond memories of once-in-a-lifetime journeys to the far corners of the world. But sometimes, in the face of unimaginable tragedy, words fail and condolences fall far short of mending broken hearts. Sometimes, there are no words and no answers. Sometimes, there is only the smallest glimmer of hope that time will somehow ease the pain of the sudden death of a child, close friend, or loved one.
Last month, we watched in horror as fourteen high school students and three of their teachers were murdered by a disturbed young man with an automatic weapon. In response, tens of thousands of high school students (including many students in our own communities) have rightfully demanded that our elected leaders enact legislation to con- trol access to weapons of war that have no place in our homes, in our schools, or on our streets. These young activists (and their parents) have channeled their anger and grief into concrete action to hopefully prevent another mass shooting like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
But what about us? What can we say and do in the face of unspeakable sorrow? During the last two weeks, I have been called upon to preside over three funerals for young adults in our community who took their own lives. Although these sad events were un- related, they speak volumes about what happens when someone we love becomes lost, unable to cope, and somehow reaches the point where the final solution is the only solution to life’s problems. For those left behind, the demand for answers is urgent, but the answers themselves are almost always elusive and they almost never bring solace.
What can we do when our lives seem broken beyond repair? What can we do when death and disaster visit our family or our community? After long hours of reflection, my only answer is to “lean in.” Lean into the head winds of prayer when we feel crushed by sadness. Lean into the light of hope that comes with each early spring sunrise. Lean into the arms of family, friends, and fellow parishioners who offer consolation, friendship, and love. Lean into the arms of our Father in Heaven who is ever present even when all seems lost here on earth. Lean into the embrace of the Crucified Christ who opens wide his arms upon the cross to enfold in his love all who mourn, all who weep, all who seek to understand an unthinkable loss. Lean into the love that transcends the tomb.
As we begin this final full week of Lent, let us lean in together. Let us lean in toward each other and toward the Lord, heart to heart, and hand in hand. Let us lean in together in prayer for those we love, for those we have lost, and for all who are left behind to carry the heavy cross of grief. Let us lean in together in confidence, as a community of disciples, and beg the Lord to bless us, to bless our families, to bless our community, and to bless our country with an increase in faith, hope, love, and peace. Amen.
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Pastoral Council will meet on Saturday, March 24th beginning with Mass at 8:00am in Saint Ann Church. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Feast of Saint Joseph
Patron of Fathers & Children
Monday, March 19th
For more than 1,000 years, the Catholic Church has venerated Saint Joseph as patron of fathers, protector of children (both born and unborn), and guardian of unwed mothers. He is also venerated as patron of carpenters, laborers, immigrants, and those who doubt their faith. Christian believers throughout the world will celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on Monday, March 19th. Traditional devotions to Saint Joseph remain strong here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. In this spirit, let us raise our hearts and voices in prayer to Saint Joseph for the protection of our children:
O Saint Joseph,
to you God committed the care of His Only Son
amid the many dangers of this world.
We come to you and ask you
to take under your special protection all children
in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport.
Through Holy Baptism,
they became children of God
and members of His Holy Church.
We consecrate them to you,
so that through our humble prayers,
they become your foster children.
Guard them, guide their steps in life,
form their hearts after the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
O Saint Joseph,
who felt the tribulation and worry
of a parent when the child Jesus was lost,
protect our children for all time and eternity.
May you be their father and counselor.
Like Jesus, help them to grow
in age and in wisdom and grace
before God and all people.
Preserve them from the corruption of this world,
and give us the grace one day
to be united with them forever in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Spring Mission & Retreat
Called to Fullness of Life
Rescheduled: April 18th-20th
All are invited to join us for the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Mission & Retreat: “Called to Fullness of Life” from Wednesday, April 18th through Friday, 20th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each evening will begin with Mass at 7:00pm. We will be blessed to welcome back Sister Elizabeth Wagner as our special guest and spiritual director, who will lead us in prayer and reflection each evening after Mass.
As part of our “Year for Vocations,” Sister Elizabeth will talk with us about finding meaning in daily life through God’s abiding presence; discovering our true selves through God’s grace; and growing into wholeness and purity of heart through God’s love. In this way, our Lent Mission & Retreat is based on the promise that God calls each of us (heart, body, and soul) to live the Christian life. But because of our fallen natures, we spend our lives working our way back to God through an often painful process of discipleship and reintegration. According to Sister Elizabeth, the ancient monastics would counsel us that our ultimate goal is purity of heart or what we might call wholeness or the true self. Ultimately, our Spring Mission & Retreat is about our individual faith journey and the “great walk back” from unlikeness to the fullness of life with God.
Sister Elizabeth Wagner lives a contemplative life at Transfiguration Hermitage in Windsor, Maine, which she founded as a semi-eremitical community devoted to prayer and solitude according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. She is a hermit, award-winning writer, spiritual director, and retreat leader. Sister Elizabeth is also formation director, gardener, and groundskeeper of the hermitage. Our Spring Mission & Retreat is free to all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Donations will be gratefully accepted during Mass to support our adult faith formation programs. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Stations of the Cross
A Traditional Lenten Devotion
Friday, March 23rd
The Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our prayers with those of the suffering Christ through both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with our Lord as he experiences the Passion of the Cross. On Friday, March 23rd, all are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in praying the Stations of the Cross at 3:00pm in Saint Ann Church and at 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Palm Sunday with Saint Francis
Sunday, March 25th
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a “Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit” that seeks to live the Gospel of Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and give witness to the Good News of Christ through formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. On Palm Sunday, March 25th, all are invited to join the Assisi Project for “Palm Sunday with Saint Francis.” Our gathering will begin with Mass at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, we will adjourn to the parish hall for a light Lenten lunch. After our shared meal, we will return to Our Lady’s Church for a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration that will include a Franciscan Way of the Cross (beginning at 2:30pm). If you would like to join us, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are invited! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace!
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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