This Week’s Message
May the Lord Give You Peace!
FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
By Cliff Garvey
In Sunday’s Second Reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians, we read: “Brothers and sisters, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).”
More than a millennium after Saint Paul wrote these words to an emerging community of Christian disciples, Saint Francis of Assisi heard the voice of the Lord through both the scriptures and mystical experiences. In response, Francis resolved to conform himself to the teaching and example of Jesus. Although Francis was not a fundamentalist in the modern sense, he did strive to follow and imitate the Poor Christ as closely as possible. For example, Francis offered a greeting of peace to everyone he met while traveling (almost always barefoot) throughout Italy, Spain, Egypt, and even the Holy Land. Wherever Francis went, he proclaimed: “May the Lord give you peace!”
More than eight centuries after the conversion of Saint Francis, which launched three religious orders and still attracts millions of followers around the world, this greeting of peace is often repeated, but remains widely misunderstood. Nowadays, we think of peace as a condition of calm, a sense of serenity, or an absence of violence and war. We all need this kind of peace. But for Francis, peace is not a condition. It is a gift that can be given only by Jesus. Like grace, which is God’s free offering of love, mercy, and salvation, peace is also a divine gift. It is the sum total of all the goodness that was possessed and lost by Adam and Eve; and restored to us by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peace is like the biblical understanding of ‘shalom.’ It is the fullness of joy, love, health, kindness, forgiveness, goodness, and reconciliation. The Franciscan greeting of peace is not just a salutation. It is not about words. It is about actions. It is a way of life. It is a way of actually living the Gospel and building a culture of real peace in our homes, neighborhoods, parishes, and workplaces. It is about rejecting division and resentment, and striving to bring people together through mutual respect, mutual understanding, and a renewed commitment to the common good. It is about reaching back, reaching out, and reaching across the aisle. In short, this greeting of peace is about practicing what we preach.
Becoming and remaining an instrument of the Lord’s peace is not easy. It calls for patience, penance, prayer, and perseverance in all that we think, say, and do. It requires us to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, and sometimes suffer for God’s sake or for our neighbor’s sake. If this sounds impossible, then consider something else that Saint Francis once said: “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, then he can work through anyone.” Francis was a human person just like you and me. He had all the same desires, feelings, and frustrations that we have. But Francis persisted. He carried on in a true spirit of prayer, fellowship, and service with people from all cultures, religions, and points of view. If Francis could do it, then we can at least try it! This week, share the Franciscan greeting of peace at home, at work, in school, at the supermarket, and along the Boulevard. Try it! Say it! I dare you! May the Lord give you peace!
Call to Prayer
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
FROM THE HEART OF SAINT FRANCIS
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life. Amen.
Call to Prayer
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
DUING TIMES OF INSECURITY & ANXIETY
in these insecure and anxious times,
we are stretched in so many ways:
spiritually, physically, financially.
People are no longer given their true dignity,
and so much that we treasure is gone.
It is hard at times to trust.
Help us to anchor ourselves in you,
whose love for us is unchanging.
May your Holy Spirit lead the way.
May your hope give us the peace of soul
that you promise. Amen.
Holy Family Parish
Annual Financial Report
During the past year, Holy Family Parish has been blessed and challenged in many ways. Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, attendance at our daily and weekend Masses was good. Parishioners offered positive feedback about our adult and youth faith formation programs, music ministries, website, and weekly newsletter. Both year-round residents and summer visitors shared favorable comments about the dedication of our pastoral team and untold good works of our volunteers. We are very blessed, indeed!
Since the pandemic, however, we remain confronted with a broad array of serious challenges. Although we are again celebrating public Masses every Sunday, our schedule is limited and seating capacity is approximately one-tenth of what it was last year at this time. Because of the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our fellow parishioners, our fundraising efforts and weekly offerings brought in nearly $70,000 less last fiscal year than the year before. And the prospects for this year look grim.
Despite the pandemic and thanks to your generous support, our parish budget was balanced (with a small surplus) during the fiscal year that ended on June 30th. Our annual financial report is posted below. This news, however, is not cause for celebration. Our buildings are old and need almost constant repair and maintenance. Despite drastic reductions in payroll, we must still offer a just wage to our remaining pastoral team members. We must also pay our utility bills and insurance premiums. And we must be ready for the costs associated with a long winter.
Let’s be honest. We are solely responsible for the short-term stability and long-term viability of Holy Family Parish. Without your generous and ongoing financial support, we will be unable to sustain the programs and ministries that our community depends on in the church buildings that we all cherish. Generations and generations of good people have worshipped here. It is now up to us, you and me, to step up, help out, give what we can, and pay tribute to the men and women who built this parish and entrusted it into our care.
On behalf of a grateful parish, my deepest thanks go to the members of our Finance Council, Joseph Grella, Robert Krause, and Rosa Ladd, for their good advice and devoted stewardship of our parish accounts. Thanks, too, go the Holy Family Women’s Guild and the Assisi Project for their generous support of our parish. Finally, sincere thanks to each and every parishioner who gave their time, talent, and treasure during the past year. Now more than ever, we need your help to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church! Peace, blessings, and thanks to all! — Father Jim
Costs of Basic Necessities
Ever Dollar Makes a Difference!
Because of the ongoing pandemic, we might think that the costs associated with operating our parishes have declined dramatically. This would be a big mistake! Our churches are open (despite limitations on seating capacity). Four Masses are being celebrated every Sunday. Baptism, funerals, and weddings have resumed. Confessions are being heard again (by appointment). And dozens of young disciples have received their First Holy Communion during the past few weeks.
Although our office remains closed, messages are received and returned on a daily basis. Our churches and parish buildings are being cleaned. Insurance premiums and utility bills are being paid. The remaining members of our pastoral team, including me, continue the good and hard work of parish ministry. Salaries, benefits, and even food for the rectory must be purchased. Here’s just a small sampling of some recent monthly expenses:
- Saint Ann Church Electricity: $292.09
- Saint Joachim Church Electricity: $40.93
- Our Lady’s Campus Electricity: $386.39
- Our Lady’s Rectory Gas: $50.48
- Telephone & Technology: $233.36
- Rectory Groceries & Supplies: $500.00
Anyone who knows me knows that economy and thrift were taught to me at a very young age. My parents worked day and night to provide for our family and to make ends meet. And believe me, we are doing everything we can to control and reduce our expenses. But both the short and long-term financial stability of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are in our hands. We are solely responsible for our own fundraising and for paying our own bills. It’s all up to us!
How can you help? Give what you can as often as you can. Encourage our fellow parishioners to give what they can, too. Use our safe and easy electronic giving program (see links below). Pledge to pay one of these monthly expenses or gather together a group of friends or family members to make a pledge. If you have any questions, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support for Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish!
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 Franciscans in Spirit. Our mission is to help believers of all ages and backgrounds grow closer to Christ, the Catholic Church, and each other through the intercession, inspiration, and life of example of Saints Francis and 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, and all around the world. We pray each day for all who ask for our prayers. If you would like us to pray for you or your special intention, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
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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In Memory of Deacon Raymond Wellbank