This Week’s Message
By Cliff Garvey
Last month, the Assisi Project concluded its reading and reflection of the book: “Live Like Francis: Reflections on Franciscan Life in the World.” This compelling book, which includes readings from the scriptures and reflections by both ancient and contemporary spiritual writers, seeks to offer practical advice about living the Christian life here and now. In the end, we were left asking some hard questions: What does it mean to live a Christian life in a world seemingly gone mad? What does it mean to live a Gospel life in a scarred and broken Church? What does it mean to live like Jesus during a time plagued by abuse, ambivalence, bigotry, corruption, division, faithlessness, greed, hatred, violence, and a corrosive lack of trust in core values, beliefs, and institutions?
One possible answer, of course, is to live according to the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived during times much like these, even though he lived more than eight hundred years ago. We concluded that if Saint Francis were alive today, he would say: “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” Francis would tell us: “This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.” And he would cry out: “Let us begin again for until now we have done nothing.” Absent a visit from the saint himself, the final reflection (by an anonymous author) in “Live Like Francis” offers some additional advice:
“The journey…is a door through which you enter a new life: a life of the gospel, a life of thebeatitudes. You are walking with the Lord in his life and in his way and in his truth. Youcan expect to be discouraged or frustrated or as the Bible says ‘in the desert’ at times, but believe more and more strongly that Jesus is walking with you. He says: ‘Do not be afraid.’Saint Francis came to know Jesus, and in doing so, he knew himself for the first time. Francis knew himself as the Poverello, the poor little man, whose strength was in the Lord. He experienced the Lord working in his life. We need to do the same…”
“Strive to develop a deep life of prayer. Continue to set aside a period of time each day forprayer, both in praise of God and in intercession for your brothers and sisters. All of us are in need of the mercy of God. Strive also to minister to others in your families and among your friends. The Lord calls us to be peacemakers, calls us to prayer to repair all the destruction which violence [and abuse and bigotry and dishonesty and corruption] cause in the world. Reach out beyond yourself as Francis did. Reach out as Jesus did. And finally, read the Word of the Lord every day, reflect on it, let it make a home in you. Make your daily decisions on the basis of what Jesus said and did. Believe that the Spirit continually calls us together to form the Body of Jesus today [and every day].”
So now what? As disciples, how do we cope with and respond to the crises that surround us? We rededicate ourselves to living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church: brick by brick, person by person, soul by soul. We become instruments of God’s grace and mercy and peace in our families, parishes, and workplaces. We begin to bind wounds, bind what is broken, and bring home those who are lost: whenever we can, wherever we can, and with whomever we can. Let us begin again and again and again: in our wounded church, our divided country, and our troubled world. May the Lord give you peace!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Summer Carillon Recitals
An Our Lady of Good Voyage Tradition
Saturday, September 1st
An annual tradition concludes this weekend at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! Our last Summer Carillon Recitals of the summer season is scheduled for Saturday, September 1st at 5:15pm (rain or shine). Once again, LuAnn Pallazola, our very talented keyboardist has prepared programs that include familiar classical music, popular hymns, patriotic melodies, and children’s tunes! Installed in 1922, the carillon bells in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church were the first toned set of carillon bells in the United States. Although our bells can be heard from blocks away, the sound is best near the church. The recital is free and open to the public! So, bring a cold drink or coffee! Bring your family! Bring a friend! Enjoy this wonderful summer tradition! And don’t forget that Mass begins at 6:00pm! Please join us! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome! For more information, please contact LuAnn Pallazola at email@example.com.
A Vigil of Prayer
Friday, September 7th
As Catholic Christians, we believe that God calls us to live as faithful disciples. But in what way of life are we called to live our discipleship? What is your calling? Such questions can sometimes take a lifetime to answer. But with hearts open to discernment and prayer, God can help us find our way in the world. Each and every one of us (regardless of our age, gender, or life experience) can discover, rediscover, and respond to God’s plan for our lives.
This year, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has focused its pastoral programs and ministries on discernment: the spiritual practice of praying and reflecting on who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do with the one life that we are blessed to live on this earth. In this spirit, we will gather on Friday, September 7th for “Discernment Friday” in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Our prayer vigil will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Evening Prayer at 5:00pm. At 6:00pm, we will pray the Holy Rosary for a new generation of good, holy, and honest leaders to help rebuild our broken Church. And we will conclude at 6:45pm with Night Prayer and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
These “Discernment Fridays” will be held monthly for the remainder of the year on the First Friday of each month. Our hope is that all parishioners and their families will join us for at least one of these special vigils of prayer. If you are not able to join us this month, please take a few moments to pray this powerful prayer for discernment by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of Chicago:
Lord of the harvest,
your Word finds a home
in our hearts,
calls us into community,
and invites us
to generous service of the human family.
Bless with courage and spirit
your priestly people,
called to full participation
in the one Body of Christ.
May many choose to respond
in public service to your call
offered in Jesus’ name.
For the remainder of this year, let us pray together that each one of us, in our own way, will learn to pray, discern, and respond to God’s call with faith, hope, and lovein our hearts. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
Youth Faith Formation
First Eucharist Preparation Program
Begins This Fall!
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport offers a creative and innovative way for children to prepare for the Sacraments of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) and First Holy Communion. Our program is designed to prepare both children and their parents for these sacraments; to encourage lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church; and to help families grow together in prayer, fellowship, and service.
Our program is simple and family-friendly! First, our top priority is to invite all families to attend one of our seven weekend Masses. Second, all second grade children and their parents, grandparents, or guardians are asked to attend two ninety minute workshops during the fall season and three 90 minute workshops during the winter-spring seasons. Each of these “Faith & Family Workshops” is offered at three different times so that each family can choose which option works best for them.
Our program begins during the weekend of October 13th-October 14th! Calendars and registration materials are posted below. Registration forms can be returned by mail or hand-delivered to our parish offices (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester). If you have questionsor need assistance with youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
Confirmation Preparation Program
Begins This Fall!
For too many teenagers, the Sacrament of Confirmation has sadly become a kind of graduation from the Catholic Church, rather than the joyful beginning of life as an active adult disciple within the Church. We hope to end this tragic transition from enthusiasm to ambivalence by transforming sacramental preparation into an engaging process for the whole family. First, we will continue to place primary focus on attending Mass. For more than a century, the Church has required every parish to provide some kind of religious education for students who seek the Sacrament of Confirmation. During recent decades, we have asked parents to dedicate one hour each week to their child’s religious education by enrolling them in a youth faith formation program. Unfortunately, we failed to remind parents of their baptismal promise to be the first teachers of their children in all matters related to faith and morals; and that the most important component of that responsibility is attending Mass as a family. In our increasingly busy, stressful, and over-scheduled world, it has become common for parents to entrust their children to us for an hour of instruction each week but not join usfor Mass each weekend. So, we will continue to ask parents to dedicate one hour each week to their teenager’s faith formation — by bringing them to church!
We will also no longer ask teenagers to spend countless hours in a classroom in preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Beginning in the ninth grade, all high school students are invited to participate in our two-year program of formation that will prepare them to receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. During the first year, our students will participate in a series of seven interactive workshops about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. These sessions will be scheduled on Sunday mornings to coincide with our weekend Mass schedule. During the second year, our students will participate in nine additional workshops (including a four-hour mini-retreat) designed to help them grow in prayer, fellowship, and service; to prepare them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and to jumpstart their lives as faithful and faith-filled young adult disciples. Registration forms and schedules for each year are posted below. For more information, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. 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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