This Week’s Message
By Cliff Garvey
Father Jim and I argued recently over something stupid. The quarrel lasted too long. Neither of us gave an inch. We dug in. We clung to our positions like dogs with bones. We said things that should not have been said. By the time it was over, we had more or less forgotten the reason for our argument, but for several days, it created some tension between us. To his great credit, Father Jim apologized first. And for the record, all is well. But this incident caused me to think and pray about what it means to forgive and what it means to be merciful. Ever the student, I looked to the dictionary and found that mercy means compassion and forgiveness. It means that whenever we can, we should feel and express sympathy for another person; we should let go of our anger, our hostility, and our resentment toward a friend, neighbor, or relative because of some flaw or mistake or perceived offense.
Mercy is akin to generosity, gratitude, leniency, sympathy, and tolerance. It is never angry or cruel or ruthless. It never complains or gossips. It never holds a grudge. Mercy liberates. It is like a spring shower that melts the dirty remains of winter snow. It is like a sea breeze that clears the air. It is like bright sunshine that warms the heart and soul. Mercy breathes life into old friendships and family relationships. It is enduring and timeless. It is born in scripture, heaven-sent, the work of angels. It is also the calling of sinners like you and me.
One day, I think, history will remember Pope Francis as an “apostle of mercy.” He seems to understand better than most of us that mercy is not just an abstract concept to be studied in a dictionary or textbook. It is instead a way of life. The Holy Father writes this about God’s mercy for all of us: “That mercy is dynamic, not so much a noun with a fixed and definite meaning, nor an adjective, but rather a verb — to show mercy or to receive mercy — that spurs us to action in this world. In addition, that mercy is ever greater; it is a mercy that grows and expands, passing from good to better and from less to more. Jesus sets before us the model of mercy who is God the Father, who is ever greater and whose infinite mercy in some sense constantly grows. God’s mercy has no roof and it has no walls (June 2016).”
Think about that! God’s mercy is boundless, compassionate, dynamic, and loving. It can cover all faults, all failings, all crimes, and all sins. But mercy is not just the Lord’s ongoing and active love for his children. He expects us to share that love and to preach it with every thought, word, and deed. He expects us to be merciful and forgiving; he expects us to be peacemakers in an increasingly bitter and divided world. He expects our hearts to grow and stretch and expand with mercy just as divine mercy grows and stretches and expands to cover every person, in every culture, in every country all around the world.
It is an ugly thing when two best friends argue. And it is a beautiful thing when those same two friends shake hands, laugh at their stubbornness, and share God’s mercy with each other. It is a movement of grace when we realize in our hearts that we are all bruised and broken, weall need to forgive, and we all need forgiveness. Pope Francis says: “Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” During this season of new life, let us pray for the courage to bring God’s big, bold, and bountiful mercy into our homes, communities, and workplaces. And let us pray that mercy finds new life in our divided country, our wounded church, and our suffering world. Amen! Alleluia!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Youth Faith Formation
Celebrating First Holy Communion
Saturday, April 27th
On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, Father Jim and our pastoral team wish to congratulate the seventy-five young disciples from Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish who have successfully completed our program of preparation and who will receive their First Holy Communion in the coming weeks. During these past seven months, these seventy-five young fellow parishioners and their parents have prayed, studied, and grown together in prayer, fellowship, and service. They have learned together that disciples of all ages are called to live the Gospel, share God’s love and mercy, and rebuild the Church. They are all well-prepared to receive the Body & Blood of the Risen Lord and to become faithful and faith-filled disciples!
These children wish to sincerely thank their parents, families, and friends for their love, prayers, and support. In addition, the children also wish to express their deep appreciation for those who worked so hard to prepare them for their First Holy Communion: Father Jim Achadinha, Olga Alves, Fernanda Brown, Phyllis Comeau, Angelica Duran, Mary Duran, Donna Lupo, Mary Ellen McLeod, and especially Betsy Works. Please pray for all of our young fellow parishioners, their parents, and families so that they will continue to grow in faith, hope, and love; and that they will continue to join us for Mass on a regular basis. Please also pray in thanksgiving for our pastoral team and our dedicated volunteers who make these celebrations possible. Thank you for your prayers and support! May God bless you and your family!
Divine Mercy Sunday
Sunday, April 28th
In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina Kow- alska and designated the Second Sunday of Easter as the Feast of Divine Mercy (popularly known as Divine Mercy Sunday). During the past two decades, the devotion has spread throughout the world and reflects a mystical message that the Risen Christ gave to Saint Faustina which was recorded in her diary: “Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy. This is the Easter gift that the Church received from the Risen Christ and offers to all people.”
In this spirit, all are invited to join us for Divine Mercy Sunday on April 28th from 2:30pm until 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. This special afternoon of devotion and prayer will proceed according to the following schedule: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 2:30pm; the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00pm; the Holy Rosary at 3:30pm; and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 4:00pm. For more information, please contact Jane Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope and pray that you and your family will be able to join us for all or part of this special event! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Adult Faith Formation
Spring Day of Prayer & Reflection
Mary, Mother of All Peoples
Saturday, May 4th
The Blessed Virgin Mary is known and venerated by countless names and titles throughout the world. Some of these titles are dogmatic; some are artistic; and some are the result of popular piety. Through these titles, we learn about Mary’s life, legacy, and loving care for God’s people; we learn about our Lord Jesus Christ; and we learn something about ourselves and God’s Holy Church. Whether we think of her as Theotokos (Mother of God), Panagia (Mother of Mercy), or as Our Lady of Good Voyage, Mary lives in our hearts and in the Church as the Blessed Mother of All Peoples.
In this spirit and in celebration of the various devotions to Our Lady during the month of May, all are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff Garvey for a “Spring Day of Prayer & Reflection: Mary, Mother of All Peoples” on Saturday, May 4th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this four-hour morning retreat, we will explore the Blessed Mother’s loving intercession and protection of God’s family across the centuries. We will also consider how our devotion to Mary can help us overcome the growing darkness of bigotry, hatred, and division that seems so prevalent in our own time.
This program is sponsored by the Legion of Mary and the Assisi Project and will proceed according to the following schedule: Celebration of Mass at 8:00am; First Reflection & Faith Sharing at 9:00am; Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary at 10:00am; Second Reflection & Faith Sharing at 11:15am; Angelus & Closing Prayers at 12:00pm. After our program, all are invited to join us for a delicious potluck lunch in the parish hall.
Throughout the morning, there will be scheduled breaks and time for faith sharing, fellowship, and questions. Coffee, tea, bottled water, and refreshments will be served, too. During Mass, a collection will be taken up in support of the adult and youth faith formation programs in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. If you would like to join us, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Family Faith Formation
Mother’s Day Mass for Families
Saturday, May 11th
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Mt 19:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, godparents, and children of all ages are invited to join Father Jim for our Mother’s Day Mass for Families on Saturday, May 11th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. During Mass, Father Jim will preach about Mother’s Day and offer a special blessing for all mothers, families, and children. In addition, those who gather for this Mass will join the Legion of Mary in the Annual Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As our Mother’s Day Mass for Families approaches, let us reaffirm that Mass is our best class! Jesus is our best teacher! And every family that joins us is a gift from God! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Spring Mission & Retreat
Healing God’s Family & Rebuilding Our Church
May 15th through May 17th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for our “Spring Mission & Retreat: Healing God’s Family & Rebuilding Our Church” from Wednesday, May 15th through Friday, May 17th in Our Lady ofGood Voyage Church. Each evening of our retreat will begin with Mass at 7:00pm. After Mass, we will be blessed to welcome Mary Ann McLaughlin as our special guest and spiritual director, who will lead us in prayer, reflection, and faith sharing.
In 1972, studies showed that only 5% of Americans claimed that they did not hold or did not practice any kind of religious faith. Just recently, however, a new study found that 23% of our fellow citizens now think of themselves as “nones.” This group includes atheists, agnostics, and those who choose not to affiliate themselves with any organized religious practices or traditions. Perhaps more troubling is the new reality that more than 40% of adults under age 50 self-identify as “nones.” This means that for the so-called GenExers (age 55-75) and Millennials (age 25-39), the most common religion is no religion at all.
When we combine this trend with the ongoing crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church, we have cause to worry, pray, and fear for the souls of our brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors. So what can we do? How can we treat old wounds, fix what is broken, and bring home those who are lost? How can we heal God’s family and rebuild our church? To be sure, there is no single strategy that will bring our friends and families back to church. There is no easy answer. But there is hope! Through a renewed commitment to Christ and his gospel of love and mercy, all things are possible!
For more than four decades, Mary Ann McLaughlin has been helping adults of all ages and backgrounds encounter Jesus Christ in their day-to-day life experiences. She has proclaimed the gospel as a lay minister, retreat leader, and spiritual director; and she has lived the gospel as a wife, mother, grandmother, and working professional. Mary Ann’s unique experience and prophetic voice will help us grow closer to Christ, to the Church, and perhaps even to those who have chosen a different path. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring a friend! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Brain-Teasing Special Event
Trivia Night with Father Jim
Saturday, May 18th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for a brain-teasing, mind-blowing, and fast-paced special event: “Trivia Night with Father Jim” on Saturday, May 18th from 7:00pm until 10:00pm in Saint Ann Church Hall. Throughout the evening, Father Jim (who is secretly a quiz master and aspiring game show host) will ask a series of questions on a wide array of topics ranging from music and sports, movies and television, books and history, religion and good, old-fashioned trivia.
Tickets are $20 per person. Participants will be organized into teams of eight, so all are welcome to organize a team in advance or take your chance at the door! Tickets will be available at the door, in our parish office, or by contacting Father Jim. All are invited to bring food and snacks. Coffee, tea, bottled water, and soft drinks will be offered for sale (along with a cash bar). Father Jim promises cool prizes and raffles, too!
Don’t miss this chance to impress your friends and neighbors with your knowledge of facts, figures, and trivia! Don’t miss this chance to share a few laughs with family and fellow parishioners! Don’t miss your chance to win a great prize! And don’t miss this chance to raise much needed funds for Holy Family Parish! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Happy Easter!
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