Our Pastor’s Message
Building a Civilization of Love
By Father Jim
In recent weeks, the Archdiocese of Boston has twice discouraged priests, deacons, and lay ministers from endorsing candidates for office or becoming involved in partisan political activities. Last week, however, a pastor endorsed a candidate for president on social media. This endorsement was misunderstood as a contradiction of longstanding church teaching on an important issue. This sad situation prompted Cardinal Sean O’Malley to personally remind both clergy and lay staff that “they may not endorse or oppose candidates for election or political parties.”
I agree with Cardinal Sean and will do my best to follow his lead. Just before the last presidential election, I wrote in our weekly newsletter: “It is not the place of either priests or bishops to endorse one candidate or one party over another…Neither of the major candidates or political parties advocates positions that are fully consistent with the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life, social justice, war and peace, the plight of refugees, and the preferential option for the poor.” Four years later, this statement remains true.
Despite Cardinal Sean’s straightforward guidance, one can still see social media posts from priests and lay employees that are troubling and, in some cases, offensive. A pastor continues to endorse a third party candidate for president and several major party candidates for congress. A well-known Catholic educator recently suggested that the faithful should simply ignore the Holy Father’s revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church that prohibits the death penalty in all circumstances. And another prominent lay minister affirms and shares opinions by a blogger who describes himself as a “theocratic fascist.” I am still not sure whether this is meant to be serious or satirical, but it is deeply troubling.
Fascism is the core philosophy behind the unspeakably cruel regimes of Francisco Franco in Spain, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Adolph Hitler in Germany. It is a political theory that believes in the superiority of a single ethnic group, blind obedience to an all-powerful civil leader, and contempt for the basic principles of democracy. Such rhetoric hist too close to home for me. My parents and grandparents immigrated to the United States from Portugal, which was ruled for too many years by an authoritarian dictator. While not technically considered a fascist, this dictator bullied his critics, censored the press, and executed political opponents. Nobody associated with the Roman Catholic Church should ever endorse or joke about the crimes of fascist, authoritarian, or totalitarian governments. Such regimes were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people during the twentieth century.
In his recent statement, Cardinal Sean writes: “The teaching role of the Catholic Church brings religious and moral principles to the life of our society, our Commonwealth, and our nation. Our advocacy addresses the protection of human life at all stages and in all circumstances, including issues of social and economic equality, the pervasive influence of systemic racism, and welcoming immigrants and refugees. Catholics are urged to play an active role in our public life and to fulfill the basic obligation of a democracy, to vote. We are called to bring the light of faith and reason to our civic responsibilities as we strive to build a civilization of love.” Amen, Cardinal Sean. Amen.
As divisions deepen all across our country, my prayer is that what unites us as a community of prayer, fellowship, and service is stronger than what divides us; that faith, hope, and love will prevail over anger, hatred, and bigotry; the peace, justice, and solidarity will triumph over bitterness, inequality, and violence. Let us work with Cardinal Sean and all people of goodwill to build a civilization of love. Let us remember what Saint John Paul II once said: “The future is in your hands. God is entrusting to us the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with him in the building of a civilization of love.” And whether at home, at work, or online, let us be mindful of what Pope Francis has said about the misuse of social media: “The unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.”
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 email@example.com.
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!
Living the Gospel
Sacrament of Baptism
Welcome Young Disciples!
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The two others are Eucharist and Confirmation. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church, and made sharers in her mission (CCC 1213).”
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has resumed our celebrations of the Sacrament of Baptism in accordance with the health and safety guidelines of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Baptisms will be celebrated by appointment only, one family at a time, and with seating limited to ten family members or guests. No exceptions!
During the month of August, eight children were baptized with holy waters in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. If you would like to schedule your child’s baptism in either Holy Family Parish or Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, please contact Sheila McCarthy-Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God bless our newly baptized young disciples, along with their parents, godparents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and extended families!
Sharing God’s Love
First Holy Communion
Congratulations Young Disciples!
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport offers a creative and innovative way for children and families to prepare for First Holy Communion. Our program is designed to engage both children and their parents; encourage lifelong relationships with Jesus and his Church; and help families grow together in prayer, fellowship, and service.
For the past five years, our young disciples and their parents have gathered for Mass and a series of Faith & Family Workshops that are both family-friendly and designed to ensure the everyone understands that Jesus is truly present among us in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. Our students and their families have learned together, prayed together, and walked together as a community of disciples of diverse ages and backgrounds.
Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, fifty-five children have completed our First Eucharist Preparation Program. In accordance with all archdiocesan and government guidelines, they are now invited to receive their First Holy Communion at any one of our Sunday Masses. During the month of August, eleven young disciples received the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time.
If your child has completed our program and you have not yet scheduled their First Holy Communion, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. More information about the coming year’s faith formation programs is coming soon! Stay tune! May God bless all of our young disciples, along with their parents, godparents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and extended families!
Support 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 WeShare 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
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