This Week’s Message
The Child Saints of Fatima
By Cliff Garvey
Most of us already know the story of what happens in the small village of Fatima in Portugal. During the spring and summer seasons of 1916, three young children are tending a small herd of sheep when they are visited three times by an angel who teaches them to pray, engage in acts of penance for the sake of souls, and spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. The children are Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, who are brother and sister, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto. The children follow the angel’s direction with dedication and fervor. They begin to forsake the few frivolities of their childhood in order to pray and adore the Lord.
One year later, in 1917, the children are again tending their flock when they are visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary who is described as “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light that are clearer than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling of waters.” She carries a rosary and wears a white mantle that shimmers with gold. She tells the children to devote themselves to God and pray the Rosary each day for the intention of peace in the world. By the end of that summer, the children are visited five times by the Blessed Mother. In short, she calls them to pray, sacrifice for others, prepare to suffer, and trust in the promise of heaven.
One hundred years ago this month, Jacinta Marto passed from this life. Her brother died almost one year before her. They are now canonized and venerated as patron saints of children, the persecuted, and the sick. These child saints continue to captivate us because they seem so real, so much like us: real people, flesh and blood, holy and imperfect. Their eyes and ears were open. Their hearts and minds were open. Indeed, they were entirely open and accepting of OurLady’s miraculous appearance and her message. And then there’s this: Francisco and Jacinta suffered; but they trusted in the Blessed Mother; and they made peace with the blessing and brevity of the shortness of life on earth and the promise of eternal life in heaven.
Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto teach us that prayer, suffering, and healing hand-in-hand. They are like water and wetness, sunshine and daylight, little dogs and the meaning of life. They teach us that we cannot be healed in body, mind, or spirit without good works and perseverance in prayer. They teach us to open our hearts and minds to the Lord’s presence in our lives, the Lord’s active and effective movement in our lives, and the Lord’s hard and amazing grace in our lives. They teach us that prayer, love, and healing are thus transactional. When we pray and love others, when we make peace with others, and when we suffer for God’s sake or for the sake of others, we can make real progress toward our heavenly home.
It is not about ’offering it up.’ It is about offering it all. It is about offering everything. It is about giving ourselves completely as gifts of love to God and God’s family. In this way, our prayer is our relationship with God and how that relationship comes alive in our relationships with others. Our suffering, in whatever form it takes, can become like the pain associated with good, hard work or vigorous exercise; the work of living well, loving deeply, and giving ourselves wholly over to God’s plan for our lives — no matter how long or short those lives may be. Healing happens when we respond to God in our lives. Healing happens when our prayers have strong legs and broad shoulders; when our prayers carry us and carry others closer to God. This week, let us ask the Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto to teach us how to give, how to suffer, how to pray, and how to heal — both ourselves and each other. Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, pray for us!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport wishes to thank Jordan Avery for permission to use his beautiful image of Saint Francisco Marto and Saint Jacinta Marto on the cover of this week’s newsletter and online. All are invited to learn more about Jordan’s life and work at jordanaveryart.com! Thank you, Jordan! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
The Child Saints of Fatima
A PRAYER BY POPE FRANCIS
On February 20th, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Francisco Marto and Saint Jacinta Marto, who answered the call to discipleship and were blessed to receive and share the miracles of Our Lady of Fatima with the whole world. Pope Francis, who consecrated his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima, knows that discipleship is never easy. It is the work of holiness, the work of redemption and sacrifice, the work of everyday saints. As part of a beautiful prayer he wrote for the centennial celebration of Fatima, the Holy Father encourages our efforts through the intercession of the Blessed Mother:
Hail, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Queen of the Rosary,
blessed are you among all women!
Prophecy of the Father’s Merciful Love,
teacher of the Son’s Good News,
sign of the Holy Spirit’s burning power,
teach us, in this valley of joy and sorrow,
the eternal truths that the Father revealed
to these little ones, Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Show us the strength
of your protective mantle.
In your Immaculate Heart,
be a refuge for sinners,
and the pathway that leads to God.
United with our brothers and sisters
in faith, hope, and love,
we give ourselves to you.
United with our brothers and sisters
we consecrate ourselves to God.
And at last, wrapped in the light
that comes from your blessed hands,
we will give glory to the Lord forever and ever.
Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Saint Francisco Marto, pray for us!
Saint Jacinta Marto, pray for us!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Catholic Kids Camp
The Way of the Cross
Begins Tuesday, February 18th
LIVING GOSPEL LIVING JESUS
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: Living Gospel, Living Jesus from Tuesday, February 18th through February 21st from 8:00am until 12:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this exciting week of fun, fellowship, and prayer, our young disciples will encounter the men and women who met Jesus on the Way of the Cross. Our learning plan features active and engaged participation in games, music, prayer, skits, and craft projects. Here’s our schedule for the week:
- Day I: Tuesday, February 18: Pilate and the Temple Leaders
- Day II: Wednesday, February 19: Veronica & Simon
- Day III: Thursday, February 20: Soldiers & Women of Jerusalem
- Day IV: Friday, February 21: Mary, John & Joseph of Arimathea
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 educational program that you children and grandchildren will love!
The tuition for this innovative youth faith formation program during the winter school vacation is just $30 per child for the entire week. Scholarships are available for those families that cannot afford tuition. In addition, adults and children (age 12 and up) are welcome to join us as volunteers and will be much appreciated! For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Save the dates! Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection
The Call of Levi
Saturday, February 29th
LIVING GOSPEL LIVING JESUS
Pope Francis once said: “In the name of Saint Francis, I say to you: I have neither gold nor silver to give you, but something far more precious, the Gospel of Jesus.” In this spirit of growing closer to Christ and to each other through the holy scriptures, all parishioners, friends and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for a “Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection: The Call of Levi” on Saturday, February 29th from 8:00am until 12:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
During this four-hour morning retreat, we will pray with and reflect upon Christ’s call to Levi and to all sinners: “Follow me (Luke 5:27).” In addition, we will discuss the Lord’s admonition to the Pharisees: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners (Luke 5:32).” Overall, we will explore in some real depth the universal themes of discipleship, forgiveness, and God’s love for all people — no matter who they are, what they’ve done, or where they’re from.
Our day of prayer 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 Prayer at 12:00pm. After our scheduled program, all are invited to join us for a delicious potluck lunch. 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.
Our Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection is part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s year-long series: Living Gospel, Living Jesus. If you would like to join us for this special event, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Also, 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! Always!
Blessings & Challenges
Help Us Help Others!
As I greet people before Masses each weekend, I see fellow parishioners bringing donations of food to help stock the Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s Food Pantry. These parishioners are young and old. Some are affluent and some struggle to make ends meet. Sometimes the donation is a box of cereal, a few cans of soup, or jars of peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes the donations are larger. Recently, the pantry received donations of four cases of soup and thirty jars of pasta sauce. Whatever the gift and whomever the giver, these donations manifest our ongoing commitment to living the Gospel by taking care of needy families in our own neighborhoods.
In addition to tangible gifts of food or funds, our parishioners also give of themselves in other ways. Members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society visit the poor, assess their needs, and strive to do what we can (given our limited resources) to help out. Members of the Legion of Mary (along with other parish volunteers) visit the sick, the homebound, and the left behind. They visit the elderly in their homes, in assisted living and nursing care facilities, and in memory care units. They sit with them, pray with them, and talk with them. They listen, share a kind word, and wipe away tears. These devoted volunteers embody our mission to share God’s love and mercy — day by day, person to person.
Serving the poor and the sick is an essential part of our ministry and witness here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. We are sincerely grateful for every dollar, every donation of food, and every hour offered in volunteer service to local families and fellow parishioners in need. At the same time, because this culture of generosity is under attack by the forces of greed and corruption, we need your help more than ever. Each and every one of our parish ministries needs volunteers!
What can you do? What can we do together? What if every person who reads this message volunteers one hour each month with a parish ministry or service organization? What if every person who comes to church gives one extra dollar or two every week? What if every person who joins us for Mass gives a donation to the Saint Vin- cent de Paul Society or remembers one of our parishes in their will? What if each and every one of us, regardless of our ability to give or serve, offers an extra prayer for our pastoral team and parish volunteers? Just imagine what we can accomplish together, always together, when we choose to love, to give, and to do what we can! Peace, blessings, and heartfelt thanks to all for your generosity, prayers, and good works! — Father Jim
Electronic Giving Made Safe & Easy
Available at Both Parishes
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is easy, simple, and safe to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Donations can be made on a one-time-only or ongoing basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. Just choose the appropriate link below and click “Make a Donation.” Please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support!
Winter Weather Cancellations
For the latest information about weather related cancellations during the winter season, please visit our website: ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made via WBZ1030 and cbsboston.com. All parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are reminded that if public schools are closed due to inclement weather on a particular day, then our weekday Mass and all parish programs (including all adult and youth faith formation programs) will be cancelled, too. Peace and blessings! Stay safe! Stay warm! —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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline