This Week’s Message
The First Stone
By Cliff Garvey
During the flight back to Rome from his journeys around the world, Pope Francis routinely answers questions at length and in depth from the traveling press corps. These airborne press conferences are on-the-record and no-holds-barred. The pope is never afraid to answer hard questions, even from the secular media. Six years ago, just weeks after being chosen as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff, the Holy Father created an international stir by answering a question about sexual morality with these words: “Who am I to judge?” That answer, among other answers and actions, signaled that Pope Francis was calling the Church to focus its preaching and ministry on mercy and mutual understanding, rather than on just longstanding doctrine and theology.
Pope Francis, to be sure, is a man of his generation. He is eighty-two years old. He is reportedly set in his ways. He is an ardent defender of the Catholic Church and its teachings. Indeed, despite countless claims to the contrary, the pope has not changed any of the Church’s teachings (except for amending the Catechism with a strong condemnation of the death penalty). At the same time, the Holy Father has called us back to the Gospel, back to the basics, back to a foundational understanding of what it means to be a people of faith: love, mercy, kindness, and generosity. Over and over again, Pope Francis reminds us to imitate (as best we can) our loving and merciful savior. He says: “Love is the first fact whereby God reveals himself and turns toward us. So let us open our hearts and trust in God’s love for us. His love always precedes us, accompanies us, and remains with us, despite our sins.”
In this weekend’s gospel reading (John 8:1-11), Jesus again confounds those whose religious life is based only on a strict adherence to rules and regulations. When introduced to a woman who is caught committing adultery, Jesus pauses to think. He bends down and appears to be working through his thoughts while writing in the sand with his finger. He stands upand declares: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7).” Jesus does not judge or condemn the woman. He also does not simply excuseher actions. Instead, he meets her as she is. He greets her as a sinner — like you, like me, and like all of the hypocrites among the scribes and Pharisees who sought to punish herwith death. Jesus also offers the woman another chance: “Go, and from now on do not sin any more (John 8:11).” Don’t we all pray for this kind of second chance in our lives?
Pope Francis says: “The path of forgiveness can truly renew the Church and the world. Theworld needs forgiveness. Too many people are caught up in resentment and harbor hatred because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their own lives and the lives of others rather than find the joy of serenity and peace.” Throughout our lives, but especially during Lent, we seek the serenity and peace that comes with believing in the miraculous power of the Lord’s love, mercy, and understanding. Because of his boundless love for us, Jesus chooses love over hatred, compassion over condemnation, and reconciliation over punishment. He offers a hand in friendship, not a hand ready to cast the first stone. And he calls us to open our hearts to him and to our brothers and sisters. He asks us to put down the stones of anger or hatred or judgment that cloud our minds and poison our actions. He asks us to choose the path of forgiveness and to embrace love as the first fact. As our Lenten journey continues, let these be the first stones of a new foundation for our lives.
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Light Is On For You!
Confessions & Eucharistic Adoration
Wednesday, April 10th
For the final time during this Holy Season of Lent, all Catholics are invited to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). On Wednesday, April 10th, all are invited to join us for “The Light Is On For You!” from 6:00pm until 8:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. This special evening of prayer will include Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; and two full hours of confessions for those who feel called to participate. For some, this may be a moment for confession and sacramental reconciliation. For some, it may be a moment for silent prayer and adoration. And for others, it may be a moment to begin or renew a spiritual journey. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Stations of the Cross
A Traditional Lenten Devotion
Friday, April 12th at 3:00pm
For more than five hundred years, the Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving traditional 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. During Lent, all are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in praying the Stations of the Cross on six consecutive Friday afternoons (concluding on April 12th) at 3:00pm in Saint Ann Church. For more information about Lent in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
A Franciscan Way of the Cross
Friday, April 12th at 6:00pm
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim and the Assisi Project for a “Franciscan Way of the Cross” on Friday, April 12th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. This special evening of prayer and devotion will begin with Evening Prayer (with Reflection) and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00pm. After Evening Prayer, we will pray in silent Eucharistic Adoration. At 7:00pm, we will pray together in commemoration of the Passion of Christ with a Franciscan Way of the Cross. We will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For more information about this special event or the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Our Lady of Good Voyage
Fried Dough Breakfast
Saturday, April 13th
All are parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to joinOur Lady of Good Voyage Parish for a “Fried Dough Breakfast” on Saturday, April 13th from 9:00am until 11:00am in Our Lady’s Hall. Coffee, tea, and our deliciousfried dough and sweetbread will be served. In addition, freshly baked homemade loaves of sweetbread will be offered for sale. All proceeds benefit the parish. For more information about this special morning of delicious fried dough and good fellowship, please contact Beth Fosberry at email@example.com or leave a message at 978-281-4820. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Catholic Kids Camp
Walking with Jesus During Holy Week
Begins Tuesday, April 16th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is pleased to announce that all children (ages 5 through 11)are invited to participate in our next “Catholic Kids Camp: Walking with Jesus During Holy Week” from Tuesday, April 16th through Friday, April 19th from 8:00am until 12:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this exciting week of prayer, fun, and fellowship, children will learn about Jesus and his disciples and the heartbreaking and triumphant events of Holy Week. Here’s our schedule for the week:
- Day I: Tuesday, April 16th
What Is Holy Week?
- Day II: Wednesday, April 17th
Jesus and the Entry into Jerusalem
- Day III: Holy Thursday, April 18th
Jesus and the Last Supper
- Day IV: Good Friday, April 19th
Jesus and the Way of the Cross
Each day of our Catholic Kids Camp will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. All parents, grandparents, and guardians are encouraged to join us! After Mass, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers willlead the children to Our Lady’s School for a faith-filled and fun-filled morning of activities, learning, and good times with friends both old and new. Catholic Kids Camp is an exciting and educational program that your children and grandchildren will love!
The tuition for this innovative youth faith formation program is just $30 per child for the entire week! Scholarships are available for those families who cannot afford tuition. Adults and older children (ages 12 and up) are also welcome to join us as volunteers! Their help will be much appreciated! For more information about our next Catholic Kids Camp, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Grand Annual Collections
Every Dollar Makes a Difference!
Last year, thanks to your generous support, both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish were able to balance their respective budgets. Two big reasons for this accomplishment is the success of our Grand Annual Collections. In each of our parishes, the Grand Annual Collection bridges the gap between our weekly gifts and our financial obligations (such as salaries and benefits, insurance premiums, utility bills, snow plowing, and essential parish programs). The Grand Annual Collections also help us to maintain our historic church buildings.
In order for each parish to balance its budget and ensure its long-term financial stability, we must meet our goals of $75,000 for Holy Family Parish and $45,000 for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. These fundraising campaigns are essential components of our annual parish budgets. Each year, we ask all parishioners to contribute what they can to our Grand Annual Collections. Every gift, large or small, helps us to achieve our goals and balance our budgets. Offertory envelopes are located at the doors of all of our churches. Please place your offering in the collection basket during Mass or mail it directly to me.
Although we have made good progress toward reaching our goal, we have much work ahead before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. As we begin the final quarter of the fiscal year, all parishioners are encouraged to prayerfully consider giving to the Grand Annual Collection at either Holy Family Parish or Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Every penny raised goes directly to the parish of your choice. Please join me in praying that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to one of these all-important fundraising efforts. Thank you in advance for your generous and ongoing support of our amazing parishes! Peace and blessings to all! — 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!
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