SEVENTH WEEK OF EASTER

This Week’s Message
A Supreme Witness

By Cliff Garvey

One century ago, an unspeakable evil was conceived in one of Europe’s most cultured and religious nations. In January 1919, the German Workers Party was founded after that country’s defeat in the First World War. It was a far-right, anti-Semitic, and nationalist political party that fervently believed in Germany’s cultural and ethnic superiority over its adversaries and neighbors. Among its first members was Adolph Hitler. Within a year, Hitler seized control of the party and changed its name to what history remembers as the Nazi Party.

While Hitler was building a power structure based on bigotry, hatred, and violence, Franz Jägerstätter was working on a farm owned by his adopted parents in a small Austrian village. Franz was a typical adolescent. He was full of energy and mischief. He was the first person intown to own a motorcycle. He was known as something of a lady’s man. But Franz was also known for his diligence and kindness toward others.

In 1933, the same year during which Adolph Hitler rose to power in German politics, FranzJägerstätter inherited his family’s farm. In 1936, as Hitler conspired with Mussolini, violated international law, and mandated universal military service, Franz fell in love, got married, and made a honeymoon pilgrimage to Rome. His wife was a deeply religious woman who encouraged her husband to read the scriptures and study the lives of the saints. Together, they had three daughters. After a long, but fruitful conversion, Franz became sacristan at his parish church and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis.

As a sign of his deepening faith, Franz Jägerstätter was the only person in his village to vote against the German takeover of Austria in 1938. Two years later, Franz was drafted into military service. Following an intervention by his hometown mayor, Franz was temporarily exempted from active service because he was a farmer. Although never part of any organized resistance, Franz was convinced that Hitler and the Nazis were an evil force that must be confronted by all people of good conscience. So, when called again to active duty in 1943, Franz offered to serve as a corpsman, but refused to fight for the Nazis or pledge allegiance to Hitler.

Later that year, Franz was arrested, convicted of treason, and brutally executed. Before his death, he wrote: “God gives so much strength to those who love him and who give priority to eternity, rather than to the world. Neither prison, nor chains, nor sentence of death, can separate me from the love of God; or take away my faith and free will. The power of God cannot be overcome.” After the war, Franz Jägerstätter’s sacrifice almost faded from memory. But in 1964, a biography was published. Thomas Merton then wrote about him. A television movie was produced. In 1997, his death sentence was dismissed by a German court. And in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI beatified him and declared him a martyr.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all Christians are obligated to give witness to the Gospel of Christ by both word and deed. “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death (CCC 2473).” Not all of us will be called to this supreme witness. But just like Franz Jägerstätter, an ordinary farmer and family man, we can shine the bright light of conscience even during the darkest times. And we can pray for the courage to live the Gospel without counting the cost — even unto death.

Cliff Garvey
Associate Minister
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Contact: cgarvey@ccgronline.com

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (6-2-19) 
Bringing Home the Word (6-2-19)
Video: The Story of Franz Jägerstätter

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Crowning Feast of the Holy Spirit
In Memory of Father Eugene Alves
June 3rd through June 9th

All are invited to join Father Jim, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in celebrating our Annual Crowning Feast of the Holy Spirit from Monday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 9th. This year, we will honor the life and legacy of our legendary pastor, Father Eugene Alves, who passed away earlier this year. The Crowning Feast will proceed according to the following schedule:

  • Monday, June 3rd
    6:30pm: Procession & Rosary in Our Lady’s Church
    7:00pm: Supper in Our Lady’s Hall
  • Tuesday, June 4th
    6:30pm: Rosary in Our Lady’s Hall
    7:00pm: Supper in Our Lady’s Hall
  • Wednesday, June 5th
    6:30pm: Rosary & Mass in Our Lady’s Hall
    7:30pm: Supper in Our Lady’s Hall
  • Thursday, June 6th
    6:30pm: Rosary in Our Lady’s Hall
    7:00pm: Supper in Our Lady’s Hall
  • Friday, June 7th
    6:30pm: Sung Rosary in Our Lady’s Hall
    7:00pm: Supper in Our Lady’s Hall
  • Saturday, June 8th
    5:30pm: Rosary in Our Lady’s Church
    6:00pm: Mass in Our Lady’s Church
  • Sunday, June 9th
    11:45am: Mass & Crowning in Our Lady’s Church
    1:00pm: Crowning Lunch in Our Lady’s Hall

Tickets for Sunday’s Crowning Lunch are available at our parish office and before and after the Rosary during Crowning Week. A donation of $13 per person is requested. Donations for Sunday’s Annual Auction & Grand Raffle will be much appreciated. For more information, please contact Father Jim at frjim@ccgronline.com. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome! Come, Holy Spirit!

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Pastor’s Challenge
Grand Annual Collections
Every Donation 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. One big reason 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. The Grand Annual Collections also enable us to maintain our historic, but aging, church and parish buildings.

The current budget year ends on June 30th. In order for each parish to balance its budget and ensure our 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, whether its $100 or $1, helps us to achieve our goals and balance our parish budgets.

I need your help! If every person who attends Mass this weekend gives $20 this month to our Grand Annual Collections, we will reach our goals, balance our budgets, and lay a strong financial foundation for the coming year. Offertory envelopes are located at the doors of our churches. Please place your donation in the collection baskets or mail it directly to me. Thank you for your generous support of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage parish! Peace and blessings! — Father Jim

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Healing God’s Family & Rebuilding Our Church
A Morning of Prayer with Saint Anthony
Thursday, June 13th

More than eight centuries ago, the Crucified Christ called out to the young man who would become Saint Francis of Assisi: “Go! Rebuild my church which as you can see is falling into ruin!” Francis took the Lord’s command literally and set out to repair small chapels in and around his hometown. Over the years, however, Francis came to understand more fully that his personal vocation to live the Gospel and share God’s love was vital to rebuilding the Church throughout the world.

In this spirit and in appreciation for the crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church in our own time, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is gathering throughout the year in commemoration of important feast days and praying for the healing of God’s family and for the courage to rebuild our wounded church. In addition, we are asking the saints to pray for us and guide us in the hard work of discipleship during these difficult times.

All are invited to join us for a Morning of Prayer on Thursday, June 13th in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), who is venerated as a patron saint of fishermen and mariners, elderly people and poor people, and lost things and lost souls. This special morning of prayer will begin at 8:00am with Mass in Saint Anthony Chapel. Following Mass, we will celebrate Morning Prayer and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At 9:30am, we will pray the Holy Rosary for the healing of God’s family. And finally, we will conclude at 10:00am with Daytime Prayer and Benediction.

During Morning Prayer, Father Jim will offer a reflection on the life and legacy of Saint Anthony, who has much to teach us about living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding our Church. We hope and pray that you and your family will be able to join us for all or even just part of this special morning of prayer, reflection, and devotion. For more information, please contact Father Jim at frjim@ccgronline.com. Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!

Video: Life of Saint Anthony of Padua

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About Us

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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