Our Pastor’s Message
What Comes Next
By Father Jim
We last gathered together as a community to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist on Sunday, March 8th. Since then, winter ended and spring began. Days are longer and warmer. Spring flowers bloom on the Boulevard and in window boxes. Trees are leafing out. The long gray world is now alive with color and new life. Lent gives way to Easter. Jesus is risen. The Holy Spirit prepares to descend upon us. And yet it is hard to believe that more than two months have passed since we last met as brothers and sisters; embraced each other with the Peace of Christ; and worshipped together in song, word, and good deeds.
What comes next will be just as difficult. Regardless of what you may hear from some politicians, commentators, and even some faith leaders, the coronavirus pandemic is not over. It remains a global health crisis. The virus is deadly and spares no one. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the number of cases and the number of deaths continues to rise (albeit more slowly than before). And according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, six percent of all victims in the United States are likely to die.
Some will ignore the facts. Some will argue that these deaths are the price that our people must pay to exercise our freedom and rebuild our economy. But the price is too high for me. And it should be too high for you. Just imagine what a six percent mortality rate would look like in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. It would mean that 21 parishioners who regularly attend our 4:00pm Vigil Mass might die of complications related to the coronavirus. It would mean that 18 parishioners at our 11:45am Mass might die. We simply cannot afford to gamble with the lives of our brothers and sisters, our parents and grandparents, or our children and grandchildren.
During these past weeks, I have consulted regularly with a public health specialist who said from the beginning that the coronavirus was more deadly than our government leaders were willing to admit; and that our country was simply not prepared for a pandemic like this one. I have spoken with longtime friends and fellow parishioners who are nurses and have served on the front lines of the pandemic. They relate painful experiences of patients dying afraid and alone, families devastated by grief, and an ongoing shortage of basic medical supplies. In my heart, I sincerely believe that this crisis did not have to happen in this way.
For my small part, I have prayed again and again with dying patients and their families via the internet. I have communicated with countless parishioners via phone, electronic mail, text message, and good old-fashioned handwritten cards. Cliff has done the same and has worked diligently to offer us free, high quality resources for prayer and worship in your “home church.” And members of our pastoral team have gathered every week to pray for you and your family, and for more than 650 prayer requests received from around the world.
Now comes the hard work. Earlier this week, Governor Baker released his plan for the gradual re-opening of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Soon after, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston asked every parish and collaborative to begin drafting a plan to slowly and safely re-open our churches for moments of public prayer and worship. The archdiocesan guidelines are clear and strict. They limit the overall capacity of every church, require strict social distancing, and impose rigorous cleaning and safety guidelines. In fact, none of our churches can open for public worship until our plan is approved by Bishop Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston for the North Region.
Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, our primary commitment will remain the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. Our re-opening plan will be slow, cautious, and ever-mindful of the risks associated with public worship to our priests, parishioners, pastoral team members, and volunteers. In order to ensure our success, your prayers, cooperation, and ongoing financial support are absolutely essential. Without your support, we will be unable to proceed with any long-term and sustained public worship in either Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. So, please be patient and please give generously!
In just two weeks, we will celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. During our years together, we have all worked so hard to come together as a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. We have all learned so much about what it means to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. During the coming days and weeks, the latest information about our re-opening plan will be posted here on our website.
Now more than ever, we should strive to practice what we preach. When we work and pray together, we can accomplish truly miraculous things! Please pray for me, for our pastoral team, and for all of our fellow parishioners. Be assured of our daily prayers for you and your family. Let us continue to trust in God, believe in science, practice patience, and pray without ceasing! Let’s pray together! Ever together! Peace and blessings to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: Even though we cannot gather together right now for praise and worship, we can still pray together. Using the links below, all are invited and encouraged to sanctify the various times of the day with these prayers for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from all illness. Let’s pray together! Ever together in prayer! — Father Jim
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Available at Both Parishes!
Brothers and sisters! Our parishes depend solely on your generous gifts in order to pay for the salaries and benefits of our priests and pastoral team members; groundskeeping, utility bills, insurance premiums, and necessary repairs in our churches and parish buildings. Now more than ever, your generosity will ensure that the good work of our parishes can continue after this crisis ends; and also the long-term financial stability of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish.
All are encouraged to mail their donations or slide them through the mail slot at our parish office. Another increasingly important component of our ongoing fundraising effort is electronic giving. Our We Share program is a safe and easy way to make secure online donations to your home parish using a credit, debit card, or electronic check. For more information about supporting our parishes during this difficult time, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support! Prayers, and blessings for all! — Father Jim
Special Guest Message
A Time for Conversion
By Father Federico Lombardi, SJ
Many of us have had the experience of being seriously ill at some point in our lives, or even just having a well-founded fear of being sick. If we did not give into panic, we experienced a period that marked us spiritually, usually in a positive way. We realized that things and projects that seemed so important to us were ultimately contingent and transitory — that there are things that pass away and things that last.
Above all, we became more aware of our fragility. We felt small before the world and before the great mystery of God. We realized that our destiny is only partly in our hands, even though medicine and science can do wonderful things. To use an ancient word, we became more humble. We also prayed more, we became more sensitive and attentive in our relationships with others, we were more grateful for their attention, and for their human and spiritual closeness.
But then, as our strength returned and the risk was overcome, these attitudes gradually diminished and we returned more or less to how we were before: sure of ourselves, concerned above all with our own plans and with immediate satisfaction, less attentive to finer things and to our relationships, and prayer returned to the sidelines of our lives. In some ways, we must recognize that in sickness, we had become better, and that when we became strong, we soon returned to forgetting God.
The pandemic is a widespread and shared illness. It is a common experience of incredible and unexpected fragility. It puts into question many aspects of our lives and of our world that we had taken for granted. This causes great suffering and upheaval. But is it only an evil or it is also an opportunity for conversion?
Sooner or later, this pandemic will pass — at a very high cost — but it will pass. We are all in a great hurry right now and we are all longing for it to be over. We want to start again, to get back on the right track. This is only normal. Solidarity obliges us to hope that the weakest among us will be spared further suffering. Hope urges us to look forward and charity must be industrious. But will we be converted, at least a little, or will we immediately begin to trek the same path as before?
We want to start again quickly. We say that many things will change. Perhaps we think we have learned many lessons about the health care system and school system, about the digital realm and its possibilities. Even medical science will make progress. But mostly we seem to think of answers primarily in technical terms, in terms of greater efficiency and organizational rationality.
That is all well and good. But the pandemic is a call to deeper spiritual conversion. A call not only for the Christian faithful, but also for all men and women, who remain creatures of God even when they do not remember him. A better life in our common home, at peace with creation, with others, and with God; a life rich in meaning—requires conversion.
Call to Prayer
A Prayer for the Sick
God of Goodness and Love,
hear our prayers
for the sick members of our community
and for all who find themselves in need.
Amid material, physical, and spiritual suffering,
may they find consolation
in your healing presence.
Show your mercy as you close wounds,
cure illnesses, make broken bodies whole,
and free downcast spirits.
May all who suffer find health and deliverance,
and so join us in thanking you
for your abundant blessings.
We ask this through the Risen Jesus
who heals those who believe.
The Assisi Project
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey during their first pilgrimage to Italy, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscan in Spirit. Our mission is to help believers of all ages and backgrounds grow closer to Christ, to the Catholic Church, and to each other through the intercession, inspiration, and life example of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
Members of the Assisi Project range in age from 12 to 94 and live in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, all across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Angola. Part of our work together is our prayer together. So we pray each day for all who ask for our prayers all around the world. If you would like the Assisi Project to pray for you, your family, your special intention, or the soul of a deceased friend or loved one, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this time of pandemic, when we are encouraged to remain at home, all are invited to pray and reflect on the Gospel Life by making use of the many resources on our website (click link below). These resources include our Daily Prayers, Franciscan Rosary, Way of the Cross, our new podcasts, and more than fifty reflections and stories about Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. Come and pray with us online! May the Lord give you peace — now and always!
Updated Saturday, May 23rd – 10:00am
In light of Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to re-open the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will now begin working with the Archdiocese of Boston to develop a plan to cautiously and slowly our churches on a very limited basis with restrictions. This weekend, I will meet with a committee comprised of pastoral team members and parishioners to begin the difficult work of drafting our plan. Our primary commitment will remain the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. For these reasons, all of our churches and our parish office will remain closed until further notice.
Also, Cardinal Sean has renewed his dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass for all Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston. All public Masses (including funerals), ministries, programs, and social events remain suspended at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Pastoral assistance is available by phone or email. Please contact us at 978-281-4820 or email@example.com. As a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, let us continue to trust in God, believe in science, pray without ceasing — and practice the virtue of patience! Stay tuned for further updates! Peace and blessings to all! — 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!
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