Our Pastor’s Message
By Father Jim
Last week, a market research firm in the United Kingdom released the results of a new poll that asked: “What is the most important trait for someone to show in order to be considered a good Christian?” The most popular answer was not regular church attendance. It was not knowledge about church teaching. It was not chastity or piety or prayerfulness. According to a plurality of those who participated in the poll, the most important trait of a “good” Christian was kindness. Love, goodness, and faithfulness trailed far behind. Joy, patience, and self-control trailed even farther behind. This poll prompted me to think about kindness in today’s world. Kindness is one of those qualities that can seem so abstract, so vague, so pie-in-the-sky. It can mean being friendly, charitable, or considerate. It can also mean gentleness, thoughtfulness, or concern for the well-being of others. It is often associated with generosity, hospitality, and neighborliness. We know kindness when we see it. And we know its mortal enemies: cruelty and indifference.
If our life experience was confined to watching cable news programs or so-called reality television shows, then we might think that kindness is a thing of the past. Indeed, it sometimes seems like kindness is in retreat all around the world: dark shadows of hatred, bigotry, and brutality; ongoing threats of terrorism, gun violence, and sexual abuse; and a shocking lack of compassion for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. In spite of our power and affluence, we seem to be losing our collective ability to be civil, sympathetic, and understanding.
At the same time, if we pay attention, we see kindness all around us. Earlier this week, while walking my own dog, I met a woman who was caring for a sick dog that had become separated from its elderly owner. Last week, hundreds of people attended the funeral for a brother priest who died too soon after a brave battle with brain disease. On a workday, they traveled from the far reaches of the archdiocese to comfort a grieving family and faith community. And every week, members of the Legion of Mary and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society reach out to those who suffer at the margins of our community. They give without counting the cost, too often without gratitude or appreciation. This is kindness at work in the world!
In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter this question three times: “Do you love me?” Each time, Peter emphatically says “yes.” And after each emphatic yes, Jesus responds with a call to kindness: “Tend my lambs. Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.” He does not call upon Peter to mastersome complex theological text. He does not call upon the apostles to practice a particular spiritual devotion. He commands them to be kind. Love your neighbor. Feed the poor. Welcome the stranger. Take care of each other. Jesus excludes no one — ever.
If we love Jesus, then we must love others. If we love Jesus, we must serve others. If we loveJesus, we must practice kindness. Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said: “Spread love wherever you go. Let no one every come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness. Kindness in your face. Kindness in your eyes. Kindness in your smile.” At a time when solutions to the world’s problems seem so complex and so far beyond reach, Jesus offers a compelling solution that transcends all borders, all divisions, and all parties. That solution is kindness. This Easter Season, let us renew our commitments to love the Lord, tend his lambs, and feed his sheep. And let us always be kind to each other.
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Youth 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!
Youth Faith Formation
The Way for Kids
Begins Saturday, May 18th
If your family includes a child, grandchild, or godchild who has completed the second grade but has not received the Sacraments of Baptism and/or First Holy Communion, we have a special program just for them: “The Way for Kids.” Beginning on Saturday, May 18th from 4:30pm until 5:45pm in Our Lady’s School, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead a five-week series of work- shops for young disciples who have not received the Sacraments of Initiation. After each workshop, the children and their families will attend Mass at 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. For more information about this special youth faith formation program, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please pray for our young disciples and their families! Please join us! 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 email@example.com. 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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