This Week’s Message
A Season of New Beginnings
By Cliff Garvey
Saint Francis of Assisi once said: “Let us begin again for until now we have done nothing.” He said this during a time of turmoil in the growing community of followers who had been transformed by his message of humility, simplicity, and service. Saint Francis means that we are never as good or as faithful as we think we are. He also means that every day is a new day for us as individual disciples and fellow parishioners; a new day to rediscover God’s grace and to be changed by it; and a new day to be renewed by God’s friendship, love, and mercy. Everyday is a new day to grow closer to Jesus through prayer, fellowship, and service; a new day to embark on the journey of faith, with all of its ups and downs, joys and pains, consolations and disappointments; and a new day to make a difference in the lives of others by living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding our wounded Church. So, let us begin again.
A conversion can be defined as any turn or change from faithlessness to faith, from sinfulness to repentance, and from laxity to fervency in our personal relationships with the Risen Lord. If we have faith, then we have taken the first step toward conversion. And if we have a conscience, then we know that we are all sinners who are called to pray for forgiveness. But what about the last step? What about our personal relationships with Christ Jesus? Is coming to Mass a chore? Part of life’s weekly routine? Is volunteering with a parish ministry a social endeavor? Just to get out of the house? Is our relationship with God and the Church born of guilt or habit? Deep in our hearts, we know the answers to these questions. So, let us begin again.
Pope Francis once said: “In your relationship with the Lord, if you do not feel that he loves you tenderly, then you are missing something. You still have not understood grace; you have not yet accepted the gift of grace which is his tender love.” I certainly struggle with this part of my spiritual life. If you do, too, then how do we grow closer to the Lord? It is not always easy. There are no simple answers. But we can remind ourselves that Advent and Christmas come every year to remind us that it is time to begin again. It is time to begin again the work of conversion. It is time to wake up, to ignite the fires of faith, and to grow closer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Advent and Christmas come to remind us that Christ comes into our lives; he reaches out to us during every minute of every day; he longs to embrace, enfold, and envelop us in his endless love, mercy, and friendship; and he offers this embrace to every single one of us no matter who we are or what we have done in our lives. So, let us begin again!
But what about our loved ones who do not know the Lord? What about our friends who have left the Church? What about those who have lost their way? How do we share the joy of ourfaith with them? How do we share the joy of our conversion with them? Well, we don’t. Ultimately, God does that. But we can help. We can help by not judging them. We can help by not being angry with them. We can help by not making them feel guilty. We can invite them to join us. And if they don’t come along, then we can still pray for them — for hearts that are open to God’s loving embrace. Several years ago, Pope Francis said: “A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in our souls and light in our hearts. Let there be forgiveness for others, which is light; let there be no hostility, which is darkness. Let there only be the beautiful light of Jesus.” As Christmas fast approaches, let this be our hope, our joy, and our prayer for ourselves, for our families and friends, for our parishes, and for everyone we meet along the way. Now more than ever, let us begin again!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Assisi Project
Saturday with Saint Francis
Saturday, December 22nd
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey after their first pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Africa, and Europe. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ and grow closer to the God’s Holy Church through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
The Assisi Project usually meets on the last Saturday of every month in Saint Ann Church for Mass, formation,fellowship, and faith sharing. Our next “Saturday Morning with Saint Francis” is scheduled for December 22nd beginning at 8:00am. Please note the change in our schedule! This month, we will continue our study of the Franciscan Saints and we will try to answer the vexing question: “Who in the world is Jacopane of Todi?” All parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us!
Members of our fellowship all around the world, who range in age from 16 to 93, also pray for those who ask for our prayers. If you would like to join us or if you would like us to pray for your special intention, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace during the upcoming Christmas Season!
Christmas Mass Schedule
December 24th & December 25th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport joyfully invites your family to join our parish families for Holy Mass in celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. On Monday, December 24th and Tuesday, December 25th, Mass will be celebrated according to the following schedule:
Christmas Eve – December 24th
Saint Ann Church at 4:00pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 6:00pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at Midnight
Christmas Day – December 25th
Saint Ann Church at 8:15am
Saint Joachim Church at 10:00am
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 11:45am
On behalf of Father Jim, our senior priests, and our pastoral team, we hope and pray that you will join us in prayer on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! All are invited! All are welcome! Always! Peace and blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! God bless us, everyone!
Welcome Sheila McCarthy!
Associate Minister & Archivist
As you all know, this has been a difficult year for our pastoral team. Last December, just before Christmas, Deacon Ray Wellbank passed away. And then last June, Deacon Dan Dunn also passed away. Their sudden deaths broke the hearts of our parish families and were especially hard for me and for the dedicated members of our pastoral team. In addition, the losses of two beloved and respected deacons in one year prompted us to think deeply on how we would continue to serve our parishioners in the best possible ways.
In this spirit, after a long period of grieving, prayer, and consultation with fellow parishioners and pastoral team members, I am now very pleased to announce that Sheila McCarthy has joined our pastoral team as Associate Minister & Archivist. In this capacity, Sheila will coordinate and schedule all weddings and child baptisms at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, meet with couples before their marriages, and maintain our sacramental records.
Sheila is a native of Waltham, raised her children in Woburn, and moved to Gloucester in 2006. Recently retired from the Visiting Nurses Association, Sheila has also served on the Holy Family Parish Finance Council. She is also a dancer, avid student of Gloucester history, and a fervent fan of both the Red Sox and Patriots. As a single parent since her two children were ages four and six, Sheila believes that they (along with her four beautiful grandchildren) are her greatest accomplishment in life.
Sheila’s personal and professional background make her ideally suited to work with parish families who are preparing for the Sacraments of Marriage and Baptism. On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, it is my joy to welcome Sheila McCarthy to our pastoral team! If you have questions or need more information about scheduling a baptism (for a child) or wed- ding, please contact Sheila at email@example.com. Thank you! Peace and blessings to all! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! — Father Jim
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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline