Our Pastor’s Message
By Father Jim
In his apocalyptic novel, Father Elijah, Michael D. O’Brien writes: “The loss of even one soul is catastrophic.” Sit with this sentence for a few moments. Pray with it. Think on it. Think about the catastrophic loss of 100,000 souls to the coronavirus. Think about those who die alone, grieve alone, and suffer alone. Think about families devastated by fear, grief, hunger, and financial ruin. My generation may have lived through 9-11, seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even the Great Recession, but nothing we have experienced prepares us for this crisis. And so far at least, the way forward seems fraught with difficulty, hardship, and even more suffering.
As I shared with you last week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has asked every parish and collaborative to draft an individual 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 conscientious social distancing, and impose rigorous cleaning and safety practices. None of our churches can open for public worship until our local plan is reviewed and approved by our regional bishop.
Since last week, I have met twice with a working group comprised of fellow parishioners and pastoral team members who worship at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. I am grateful to Becky Carrancho, Robert Krause, and Rosa Ladd, along with Betsy, Cliff, Jane, Lucy, and Tom for their willingness to serve on this important committee. During our first meeting, we agreed that however much we long for the public celebration of Holy Mass, we cannot ignore three vitally important concerns:
- Our responsibility for the health and safety of all parishioners.
- Our responsibility to be good neighbors to the broader community.
- Our responsibility to communicate honestly about the risk of public worship.
Our working group is also mindful of the unique character of our parishes during the summer months. While many parishes slow down during the summer season, our parishes typically see a substantial increase in the number of people who worship with us. This blessing creates real challenges regarding how we can effectively communicate our limited re-opening plans to both short-term and long- term summer visitors.
Another serious challenge is church capacity. Archdiocesan and state government regulations strictly limit seating to 40% of overall capacity in each of our church buildings. At the same time, these regulations also require at least six feet of social distancing at all times. This latter requirement will make it impossible for us to accommodate everyone who wishes to join us for Mass. In order to comply with the social distancing requirement, we can seat safely only 28 parishioners in Saint Joachim Church, 28 parishioners in Saint Anthony Chapel, 36 parishioners in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, and 56 parishioners in Saint Ann Church. Needless to say, this is a difficult and heartbreaking reality for a faith community that made All Are Welcome! a central component of its mission and vision.
In addition, each of our churches must be cleaned from top to bottom after each and every public liturgical celebration — after every funeral service, wedding ceremony, and celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This includes bathrooms, entrances, sacristies, worship spaces, and any surface that someone might touch. Signage must be printed and posted both inside and outside of every church, too. As you might imagine, the costs and logistics associated with these requirements demand proper planning, scheduling, and the purchase of additional supplies.
Other important factors worth noting are that the new safety measures will change the ways we enter and exit our churches; where we sit; how we reach those seats; how we worship; and how we receive Holy Communion. Several parishioners have already been recruited to serve as ushers, but we must all do our part to help ensure each other’s health and safety. In accordance with archdiocesan guidelines and for the foreseeable future, everyone who enters our churches will be required to wear a mask; maintain a safe social distance at all times; and receive Holy Communion in the hands. Missalettes must be removed from all churches. And last but not least, all of our music programs will be discontinued until the pandemic is over.
My hope is that we will be ready for a limited re-opening sometime in July. Until we can make all necessary preparations to protect our parishioners, pastoral team members, and volunteers, our churches and parish office will remain closed. I fully appreciate that other churches may open more quickly and that some parishioners here will be disappointed with this decision. It is not my place to second guess the decisions and practices of other pastors and parishes. My singular focus can only be on how Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish respond to this crisis and how we can do whatever is possible with limited resources to keep each other safe and well.
As we celebrate the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us pray that our decisions will be guided by faith, fortitude, good counsel, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and wonder at God’s presence in our lives. Let us also pray for the gifts of patience and perseverance in prayer. And let us continue to pray for each other, for our divided country, and for our suffering world. Please also pray for me and for our pastoral team. Be assured of our daily prayers for you and your family during this time of trial. Peace and blessings to all! Come, Holy Spirit!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support! Prayers, and blessings for all! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
RENEWING THE GRACE OF CONFIRMATION
Most Holy Spirit of God,
Third Person of the Blessed Trinity,
there was a day when by your infinite mercy,
a bishop called me by name and said:
“I anoint you with the sign of the cross;
and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation;
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
On that blessed day,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
of counsel and fortitude,
of knowledge and piety,
and of wholesome childlike fear of you,
was called down upon me.
On that blessed day,
when the holy oil was traced upon my brow,
my soul was sealed with the Holy Spirit,
and was marked with an indelible mark.
I was made, body and soul,
a temple of your Spirit.
Dear God, thank you
for the wonderful grace of my confirmation.
Let me never do anything
that would violate or desecrate the temple
that has been dedicated and consecrated to you.
Let me never be ashamed
of your mark of Christian love.
Let me serve you faithfully and bravely,
no matter how long the fight,
nor how intense or dangerous the journey.
Help me to realize
that as long as I walk courageously,
and stay close to Christ Jesus,
I can be certain of eternal life,
and so find that most perfect happiness
in the complete possession of God’s love
forever and ever in heaven. Amen! Alleluia!
Updated Saturday, May 30th – 9:15am
In light of Governor Baker’s plan to re-open the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has begun its work, in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Boston, to develop a plan to cautiously and slowly our churches on a very limited basis. This weekend, I will meet again with a working group comprised of pastoral team members and parishioners to continue the difficult work of drafting our plan. Our primary commitment remains 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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