By Cliff Garvey
Although Agnes and Clare lived only one hundred miles apart, the delivery of their letters to each other could take almost a year. These sisters lived behind walls, in a cloistered monastery, vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience. Although each served as the abbess of their respective convents, with almost absolute authority, their servant model of leadership endeared them to the other sisters and to everyone who approached them for food, prayer, or medicine. Unlike other religious orders, theirs owned no land or livestock. They depended on the charity of friends and neighbors. Their ministry was prayer, mending altar cloths and vestments, and caring for the sick. Their lives were not easy ones.
Agnes and Clare were the first women to leave the world to become followers of Francis Bernadone, the Poor Man of Assisi, who was already known as a living saint throughout the Christian world. In fact, it was Francis who asked Agnes to travel north from Assisi to Monticelli where a community of Benedictine sisters longed for a better way to more faithfully live according to the Gospel of Christ. Agnes agreed reluctantly and founded a new convent of Poor Ladies. It was the first time in their lives that Agnes and Clare would live apart. And it was from this new convent that Agnes wrote to her sister: “My heart groans within me and my eyes pour out a ceaseless flood of tears…I conceive sorrow upon sorrow when I ponder with fear the possibility that I will never see you and my sisters again. Under such distress, I am totally disheartened.”
Nevertheless, Agnes persisted. She persisted in prayer, in fellowship with her new sisters and neighbors, and in service to the poor, the sick, and the left behind. She persisted in a burning love for the Poor Christ and for anyone who asked for her help. Agnes wrote: “I have found great harmony and no division here…Everyone commends themselves to God, to you, and to the community…Know that we wish to observe perfectly your admonitions and precepts for all our days.” Despite long years of loneliness, Agnes persevered in the gospel life, nurtured cooperation and consensus in her community, and transcended the tumult of troubled times.
Over the years, Agnes founded three more convents of Poor Ladies that reflected in every way the enduring vision of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, the vision of lives wholly dedicated to prayer, simplicity, and dependence on the Crucified Christ. One of these convents was located in Padua, Italy where Agnes came to know a young friar named Anthony who was blessed with a gift for preaching, understanding the scriptures, and converting lost souls. We know him now as Saint Anthony of Padua or Saint Anthony of Lisbon.
At the end, Agnes and Clare were brought together in their final illness. In death, they rest together under the same roof in Assisi, where they wait for the peace and glory of the last day. Eight centuries later, we venerate them as Saint Agnes and Saint Clare of Assisi. While millions of pilgrims normally file past Saint Clare’s incorrupt remains, Saint Agnes is often overlooked. Her relics rest inconspicuously in a Eucharistic Chapel within the Basilica of Saint Clare. This small chapel is a place of silence, a refuge for prayer, and the site of many reported miracles.
On November 16th, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Agnes of Assisi. She is venerated as a patron of the Order of Saint Clare, the so-called Poor Clares, but nowadays we might think of her as a patron of perseverance. Scholars speculate that Saint Agnes wrote the announcement of her famous sister’s passing. In that letter to the faithful, Agnes advised courage, patience, and forbearance when times are tough. Through it all, she persisted. And we can, too! Saint Agnes of Assisi, pray for us!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
Feast of Saint Agnes of Assisi
I come to you in prayer
to find the food and life of my soul.
As I hope in you,
inspire within me a confident faith
to approach your holy sanctuary.
help me grow closer to you,
so that my whole soul
may do homage to the greatness
of your divine life;
so that my heart
with its tender affections
may acknowledge and embrace
your infinite love. Amen
A Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Agnes
Lord Jesus Christ,
you gave Saint Agnes of Assisi
as a model for holy women everywhere
and a guide for all who seek
to faithfully live your gospel.
May the Holy Spirit,
that she so wisely taught
and confirmed by example,
be preserved in us,
free from any hint of evil. Amen.
Saint Agnes of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Holy Family Parish
Christmas Greens Sale
Saturday, November 21st
All are welcome to join the Holy Family Women’s Guild for an Outdoor Christmas Greens Sale on Saturday, November 21st from 9:00am until 1:00pm at Saint Ann Church. This outdoor marketplace will feature holiday decorations made from fresh greens and other florals. Please note that masks, hand sanitizer, and safe social distancing are expecting by all who plan to join us! All proceeds will benefit Holy Family Parish! For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome! Be smart! Stay safe! Mask up!
Holy Family Parish
Holy Family Parish depends solely on the donations of friends and fellow parishioners to pay its bills, make ends meet, and maintain its financial stability. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and necessary safety protocols that protect our parishioners, attendance at Mass is limited and all ministries have been suspended or modified. Among these programs is the Annual Christmas Fair, which cannot be held this year but is usually our single largest fundraising event. Instead, the Holy Family Women’s Guild is sponsoring a Christmas Raffle! Chances for each raffle are $2 per ticket or six for $10! Prizes include:
- One cash prize of $500
- Five cash prizes of $100
- iPad Basket
- Handmade Afghan
- Handmade Quilt
Special thanks to Greely Funeral Home, Campbell Funeral Home, Agnes Burnham, and an anonymous benefactor for making possible these great prizes! Raffle tickets have been mailed to every registered parish family. Please complete your tickets and return them to Father Jim or the parish office by Friday, November 20th. If everyone participates in the Christmas Raffle, we will raise $23,000! Every penny goes directly to Holy Family Parish! If you have not received tickets or would like to purchase additional tickets, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support!
Sharing God’s Love
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Help Us Help Others!
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is an international organization that is dedicated to responding to any request from any person or family in need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to serve the poor during these difficult times. Due to the pandemic, our food pantry and clothes closet are currently closed. However, our service to the needy and newly unemployed continues! Now more than ever, we need your support! Help us help others! Please send donations to the following address:
- Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parishes, please contact Barbara Frontiero at firstname.lastname@example.org or Harry Miller at 978-281-2701. If you or your family needs our assistance, please contact us at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society! May God bless you!
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 95 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!
Support Your Home Parish!
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and simple to make online donations to your home parish using a credit cared or debit card. Donations can be made on an ongoing or one-time-only basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. For assistance or more information about this important fundraising resource for the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes during these difficult times! Peace, blessings, and many thanks to all!
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 Sara Favazza