This Week’s Message
A Wounded Healer
Remembering Father Mychal Judge
By Cliff Garvey
On September 11, 2001, eighteen years ago this week, nearly three thousand people were killed and more than six thousand people were injured in terrorist attacks on New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar and priest, who served as Chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, was killed by falling debris during the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Father Mike, as he was known, was recorded as the first victim of the attacks because he was the first to be positively identified.
Like so many others whose lives are cut short by violence, Father Mike is remembered most often as a victim. Given the circumstances, perhaps this is right and just. But Father Mike should be remembered best for his life as a priest, pastor, friend, and wounded healer. In his book, The Wounded Healer, Father Henri Nouwen writes: “Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ’How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ’How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”
This was especially true for Father Mychal Judge. He survived a difficult childhood marked by poverty, stern discipline, and the death of his father. He persisted in his vocation during a time in church history when guilt and harsh judgment often outweighed mercy and pastoral care. He wrestled with despair, isolation, and loneliness. He struggled with his sexual orientation. And he persevered in a decades-long recovery against alcoholism. His own wounds became the foundation and inspiration for his deep compassion for others. Each morning, Father Mike would fall to his knees and pray: “Lord, take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.” This simple prayer inspired him to bring the Light of Christ into some of the darkest corners of city life.
During forty years of faithful priesthood, Father Mike embodied what it means to be a wounded healer. He ministered to men and women of all ages and backgrounds — the homeless and the hungry, the addicted and grief-stricken, and especially the victims of HIV/AIDS. During the 1980s, whether out of fear or prejudice, many healthcare professionals, family members, friends, and priests refused to care for the victims of this disease. But Father Mike transcended these concerns. He eagerly brought the sacraments to the sick and dying. He advocated tirelessly for better and more compassionate care. He willingly massaged the feet of AIDS patients. He worked hard to reconcile broken families and sat vigil with those who were left to die alone and unwanted.
During a funeral Mass for one of three brothers lost to the disease, Father Mike said: “Sometimes in life, when we lose someone we love and we don’t know what else to do, we should just pray and worship. Thank you, Lord, for their lives, their love, their creativity, their friendship, their good days and bad days, their happiness, their anger, and for everything they brought into our lives…I love you, so please love each other — the best you can.” In Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero, Michael Ford writes: “Father Mike was a living symbol of the church as it ought to be.” As we mark the tragic anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, let us pray for all victims of violence. Let us love each other as best we can. Let us be living symbols of the church as it ought to be. And let us follow Father Mike’s example by bringing Christ’s light into a dark world.
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Knights of Columbus
Annual Mass & Breakfast
Sunday, September 15th
The Knights of Columbus (Council 215) is a fraternal and charitable organization of Catholic men that serves the Catholic Community of Gloucester at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Since 1897, our award-winning council has sponsored countless good works of charity and community service. If you can spare just twenty-four hours this year to volunteer with us, we can transform that commitment into meaningful results for you, your family, and our community.
The Knights invite all members, friends, and fellow parishioners to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes in Saint Ann Church Hall immediately following our 8:15am Mass on Sunday, September 15th. A free will offering will be gratefully accepted and donated to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit our website (see link below). Please join us! Spread the word! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
Fall Faith & Family Mass
Saturday, September 22nd
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 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 annual Fall Faith & Family Mass on Sunday, September 22nd at 11:45am in OurLady of Good Voyage Church.
During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special blessing and homily for all families and their children about we can all work together to heal God’s family and rebuild our Church. During this new school year, we will celebrate four more Faith & Family Masses on the following dates and times: Saturday, November 30th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Saturday, December 28th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Sunday March 1st at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and Saturday, May 9th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church.
Mark your calendar! Save the dates! Spread the word! Bring your families and friends! Now more than ever, let us reaffirm that Mass is our class! Jesus is our teacher! Let us remember that every child in our pews is precious blessing from God! Every family that joins us for worship is a special gift from God! For more information, please see Father Jim; or contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
Youth Faith Formation
Confirmation Preparation Program
Year II Begins September 22nd
For too many teenagers, the Sacrament of Confirmation has sadly become a kind of graduation from the Catholic Church, rather than the joyful beginning of life as an active adult disciple within the Church. We hope to end this tragic transition from enthusiasm to ambivalence by transforming sacramental preparation into an engaging process for the whole family. First, we will continue to place primary focus on attending Mass. For more than a century, the Church has required every parish to provide some kind of religious education for students who seek the Sacrament of Confirmation.
During recent decades, we have asked parents to dedicate one hour each week to their child’s religious education by enrolling them in a youth faith formation program. Unfortunately, we failed to remind parents of their baptismal promise to be the first teachers of their children in all matters related to faith and morals; and that the most important component of that responsibility is attending Mass as a family. In our increasingly busy, stressful, and over-scheduled world, it has become common for parents to entrust their children to us for an hour of instruction each week but not join usfor Mass each weekend. So, we will continue to ask parents to dedicate one hour each week to their teenager’s faith formation — by bringing them to church!
We will also no longer ask teenagers to spend countless hours in a classroom in preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Beginning in the ninth grade, all high school students are invited to participate in our two-year program of formation that will prepare them to receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. During the first year, our students will participate in a series of seven interactive workshops about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. These sessions will be scheduled on Sunday mornings to coincide with our weekend Mass schedule.
During the second year, our students will participate in nine additional workshops (including a four-hour mini-retreat) designed to help them grow in prayer, fellowship, and service; to prepare them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and to jumpstart their lives as faithful and faith-filled young adult disciples. Registration forms and schedules for each year are posted below. For more information, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection
Rebuilding the Church with Saint Francis
Saturday, October 5th
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 vocation to live the Gospel and share God’s love was vital to rebuilding the Church throughout the world.
In this spirit and in celebration of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff Garvey for a “Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection: Rebuilding the Church with Saint Francis of Assisi” on Saturday, October 5th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this four-hour morning retreat, we will reflect on what Saint Francis can teach us about healing God’s family and rebuilding the Church during this time of crisis. We will also consider how the Franciscan message of humility, simplicity, and peacemaking can strengthen the bonds of love and community in our neighborhoods, parishes, and all around the world.
Our day of prayer and reflection will proceed according to the following schedule: Celebration of Holy 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 scheduled program, all are invited to join us for a delicious potluck harvest lunch in the Our Lady’s 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. During Mass, a collection will be taken up to support the adult and youth faith formation programs in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. If you would like to join us for this special day of prayer and reflection, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. In addition, if you are able and willing to help with our potluck lunch, please contact Cliff as soon as possible! Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! 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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