cropped-our-lady-of-the-rosary-1.jpgThis Week’s Message
Facing Tragedy with Faith

By Mary Jo Dangel

Twice in eight years, I have been involved with making end-of-life decisions about my two adult sons, Tim and Ritch, who were born with cystic fibrosis (CF), an incurable hereditary disease. While the decisions were the most difficult I have ever made, knowing their wishes and the Church’s teachings, as well as having faith in the promise of eternal life, made it easier. In 2011, while awaiting a lung transplant, Tim, age thirty-three, was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with life-threatening problems. Initially, his condition was serious but hopeful. He was receiving nutrition and medications, and was attached to a ventilator and other life support. His treatment fell under what the Church calls ‘ordinary’ means: efforts that offer more realistic hope of benefit to the patient than burden. The Church teaches that such ordinary means must be used.

Tim soon took a turn for the worse. He became unconscious and his vital signs deteriorated. I prayed for healing but knew Tim’s situation was hopeless. As I looked at him, hooked to tubes and machines, I thought of Mary watching Jesus on the cross and wondered: ‘How long will my son hang on the cross?’ I was not surprised when the CF specialist, who had been treating Tim and Ritch, explained why the medical team was recommending that we sign a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. Through tears, she said that, if they tried to resuscitate him, broken ribs could puncture his diseased lungs. Also, Tim’s weak heart would likely stop again.

Resuscitating Tim under such hopeless conditions falls under what the Church calls ‘extraordinary’ means: efforts whose potential benefits do not outweigh the burdens they impose. The Church allows death to happen by withholding extraordinary means, but it condemns the willful taking of life through euthanasia or assisted suicide. Thankfully, our family agreed that the only thing more painful than signing the DNR order would have been making Tim endure more suffering without any benefit. Tim wanted to be an organ and tissue donor, but the conditions of his body made him an unsuitable candidate.

Tim’s death convinced Ritch to get his own legal affairs in order. Ritch, age thirty-six, had a rare liver condition associated with CF. In 2016, he passed out due to internal bleeding and was admitted to the same ICU where Tim had died. Ritch’s condition soon became hopeless. He clung to life despite blood transfusions and other efforts. Fortunately, our priest came and said that discontinuing Ritch’s life support was compatible with  Church teaching. Ritch had signed his organ-donor card, but like Tim, his organs were unsuitable for transplantation. However, some tissues (skin, bones, and tendons) could be used to save and improve the lives of many people. We said yes. The same CF specialist who had been at the hospital when Tim died rushed to be there when Ritch’s life support systems were discontinued. We cried together again; and I thanked her for caring for my boys. Our immediate family stayed with Ritch until his heart stopped.

I can only imagine the difficulty of making these decisions if we hadn’t known Tim’s or Ritch’s wishes or if there had been disagreements. It is critical to have your legal affairs in order, understand Church teachings, and discuss your wishes with loved ones and doctors. Making end-of-life arrangements in advance reminds me of the dignity and value of our earthly lives and the eternal reward that awaits us in the next.

About the Author: Mary Jo Dangel is a retired writer and editor. For more than two decades, she served as Assistant Editor for the Saint Anthony Messenger. She is currently a contributor to Bringing Home the Word (see link below). She and her family live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (8-16-20)
Bringing Home the Word (8-16-20)
New! The Kids Bulletin (8-16-20)
Home Prayer Service


Call to Prayer
A Litany of Supplication, Part III

As the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the Vatican City, the Republic of Italy, and much of the European Union, Pope Francis offered this Litany of Supplication on March 27, 2020 during the so-called Extraordinary Moment of Prayer at Saint Peter’s Basilica. During this unique and moving prayer service, the Holy Father offered a blessing for the health and healing of the whole world.

Comfort us, O Lord.
Protect your Church which crosses the desert.

Comfort us, O Lord.
Protect humanity terrified by fear and anguish.

Comfort us, O Lord.
Protect the sick and dying, oppressed by loneliness.

Comfort us, O Lord.
Protect doctors and healthcare providers
exhausted by the difficulties they face.

Comfort us, O Lord.
In the hour of trial and from confusion.

Comfort us, O Lord.
In temptation and in our fragility.

Comfort us, O Lord.
In the battled against evil and sin.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
In the search for what is truly good and joyful.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
Should sin oppress us.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
Should hatred close our hearts.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
Should sorrow visit us.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
Should indifference cause us anguish.

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord.
Should death overwhelm us.

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.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Saint Ann, pray for us! Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Anthony, pray for us! Saint Peter, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!

Watch: Extraordinary Moment of Prayer with Pope Francis


The Living Rosary
Our Virtual Summer Retreat
Begins Tuesday, September 8th

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to provide free and high quality spiritual nourishment online. We are grateful for your kind words of encouragement and support for our efforts so far!

As you may know, our annual summer retreat has been the most popular adult faith formation program of the year. For six consecutive summers, under the direction of Cliff Garvey, we have gathered, prayed, and reflected together on a wide variety of topics: Benedictine Spirituality, Desert Spirituality, Eastern Monastic Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, Discipleship & Mission, and the Universal Call to Holiness.

Unfortunately, because of necessary restrictions on large gatherings related to the pandemic, it has become necessary to cancel plans for our annual in-person summer retreat. In our disappointment, we turned to the Blessed Mother for advice and consolation:

Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary,
our trials and tribulations,
together with our joys and consolations.
Let us beg her to look upon us with love,
especially during times of trial,
and make us worthy of beholding,
today and always,
the merciful face of her son, Jesus. Amen.

This prayer by Pope Francis inspires us to announce our first-ever Virtual Summer Retreat: The Living Rosary from Tuesday, September 8th through Saturday, September 12th. From the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will gather in a virtual but powerful spiritual communion for five consecutive days to pray a Living Rosary every half-hour from dawn until dusk; and reflect on the Blessed Mother’s powerful prayers for our suffering world.

Each day, all are invited to join us in praying a Living Rosary for the intention of God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus; and register for half-hour blocks from 6:00am until 7:00pm, thus ensuring a constant chorus of prayer rising to heaven throughout the day for this all-important intention. Our goal is to recruit at least twenty-six people per day to create a Living Rosary that begs the Blessed Mother to pray for us! You can sign up for one or more half-hour blocks each day! If you would like to join us, please contact Cliff at

In addition, Cliff will offer five daily reflections via podcast. These free audio recordings (approximately 10 minutes each) about the Blessed Mother and power of the Holy Rosary will be posted online each morning of the retreat at 9:00am. And on Saturday, September 12th, Father Jim will renew the Solemn Consecration of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, thus placing again both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish under her powerful protection during these troubled times. Please join us! Let’s pray together! Ever together!

Learn More: Pray the Rosary


The Assisi Project
New Podcast Series

Founded by Father Jim and Cliff, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that is dedicated to helping believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. In response to the pandemic, Father Jim asked Cliff to look back on nearly two decades of ministry as a catechist, spiritual director, and leader of retreats and pilgrimages; and to create a regular series of podcasts (audio recordings) as a way of continuing his adult faith formation ministry. As of this weekend, Cliff has already created eleven podcasts with more on the way! These podcasts are free and always available! Just click on the links below:

Members of the Assisi Project range in age from 12 to 95 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

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!

Learn More: Assisi Project Resources


Sharing God’s Love
Sanctuary Candles & Gifts

At each of our churches in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, sanctuary candles and gifts (hosts and wine) can be donated for a special intention or in memory of a friend or loved one. The requested donation for both sanctuary gifts and candles is now $25 per week. Each week, donations can be offered at:

  • Saint Ann Church
  • Saint Joachim Church
  • Saint Anthony Chapel
  • Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
  • New! Chapel of the Archangels

Please note that Cardinal Sean has given permission to create a Eucharistic Chapel in Our Lady of Good Voyage Rectory. The Chapel of the Archangels, dedicated to Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, is located on the first floor of the rectory. You can see the sanctuary candle from the street. In addition to their better-known patronages, Archangel Michael is also venerated as a patron of the sick and suffering; Archangel Raphael is also a patron of medical professionals; and Archangel Gabriel is also patron of priests. We all need their prayers and protection like never before!

If you would like to donate a sanctuary candle or sanctuary gifts at Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, Saint Anthony Chapel, or our new Chapel of the Archangels, please contact Father Jim at Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you!

Learn More: The Archangels


Supporting Your Home Parish
Follow the Money!

Even though most of our ministries and programs are suspended during the pandemic, your home parish still needs your support! Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish depend solely on your financial support to pay our bills and make ends meet. Let’s follow the money! Your weekly gifts pay for Father Jim’s salary, health care benefits, along food and utilities for the rectory. Your gifts also pay for the salaries and benefits of our remaining pastoral team members who are working harder than ever to clean our churches, maintain our buildings and grounds, and provide for the spiritual needs of our fellow parishioners. Finally, your gifts pay for the necessary maintenance and repairs of our historic church buildings.

All friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are encouraged to mail their offering or to give electronically. Our mailing address is 74 Prospect Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. In addition, our We Share program is a safe and easy way to make donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Because of your generous and ongoing support during these tough times, we can pay our bills, balance our monthly budgets, and ensure the short and long-term financial stability of our beloved parishes. Every dollar counts! Every gift, large or small, makes a difference! For more information about how you can support the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at Thank you!

Support Holy Family Parish
Support Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish


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!

Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline