By Father Jim
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to remind our friends, families, and fellow parishioners that all are welcome in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Last year, I wrote: “Our doors are open to every saint and every sinner. Our doors are open to the rich and the poor, to the young and the old, and to everyone in between. Our doors are open to married couples, single men and women, straight people and gay people, and anyone who is trying to find their way in our long-suffering world.” In short, no matter who you are or what you have done, this is our spiritual home — always together.
Our parishes open their doors so that we can open our arms, hearts, and minds to new friends, new neighbors, and new volunteers. Our parishes preach and practice a radical hospitality that embraces every person and every life experience. Our way is to see each person as a beloved child of God. But this Christmas, because of necessary precautions to protect our health and safety, our doors can open only to those who register online and abide by certain guidelines. This is truly a sad moment in my life as a pastor and in our shared experience as a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service.
Since March, most of us have been able to participate in Holy Mass only by watching online or on television. Most of our parish programs and ministries remain suspended. Our hearts hurt to think of opportunities missed for doing good works, forging friendships, and changing lives through the kindness that we share with each other. Our hearts ache to think of loved ones isolated in nursing homes; and grandparents separated from grandchildren. Our hearts break to think of homes lost, jobs lost, and so many lives lost.
In the midst of this suffering, however, we find moments of real grace. Babies are being baptized in small ceremonies on Sunday afternoons. Confessions are being heard at a safe social distance. Second graders and their parents are celebrating First Holy Communion together. During our first online retreat, hundreds of people prayed a Living Rosary for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. And now, as part of our second online retreat, many more are offering Night Prayer for this same special intention. Our websites are attracting more visitors than ever before. New technologies allows me to make home visits from home. And almost every day, I hear about some new way that someone lives the Gospel and shares God’s love with friend and neighbors.
Much is written now about the importance of spiritual communion — about praying together and being together in spirit even when we cannot safely gather together in person. Last week, Pope Francis said: “To pray is to light a candle in the darkness. Prayer rouses us from the tepidness of a purely horizontal existence, lifts our gaze to higher things, makes us attuned to the Lord, allows God to be close to us, frees us from solitude, and gives us hope.” In this spirit, our ministry now is to bring people together by clinging to each other in prayer.
It may be many more months before we can crowd into our favorite pew in our favorite church. Until then, it is our prayers that will keep us together. It is our prayers that will strengthen us, sustain us, and prepare us for whatever comes next. This Christmas and beyond, let’s pray together and pray for each other; take care of each other; and reach out to each other. Always together in prayer! Merry Christmas! Peace, blessings, and much love to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Franciscan Spirit for Christmas
with Night Prayer
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been and will remain to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to provide free, high quality, and mainstream spiritual nourishment online. This week, our Online Retreat: The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas concludes with God With Us! a special reflection on the incarnation of Christ at Christmas. Before joining us for the final installment of our retreat, all are encouraged to join in praying for comfort, guidance, and inspiration through the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi:
when the times were growing cold,
God sent you into the world
as a witness of his burning love
for all people and all creation.
Pray for us now,
so that we may become
instruments of peace and healing
in our sick and suffering world.
We make this prayer
through the Holy Name of Christ Jesus,
the Prince of Peace,
and our Merciful Savior. Amen.
Throughout the Advent & Christmas Seasons, Cliff Garvey will post a new podcast (audio reflection; approximately 10 minutes each) with prayers for the coming week. In addition, as the days grow short and nights grow long, all are invited to join us online in praying the Assisi Project’s Franciscan Night Prayer. All are encouraged to offer Night Prayer for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. For more information about this online retreat or lifelong faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
The Cost of Basic Necessities
Every 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. Sunday Masses are being celebrated. Baptisms, funerals, and weddings are being celebrated. And confessions are being heard (by appointment). 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 must be paid. The remaining members of our pastoral team, including me, are working harder than ever. Salaries, benefits, and even food for the rectory must be provided. Here’s just a small sampling of some recent monthly expenses:
Holy Family Parish
Saint Joachim Church Heating: $573
Holy Family Parish Electricity: $866
Saint Ann Campus Gas: $3,385
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Our Lady’s Church Heating: $553
Our Lady’s Campus Electricity: $360
Our Lady’s Campus Gas: $241
Anyone who knows me knows that economy and thrift were taught to me at a young age. My parents worked day and night to provide for our family and make ends meet. Believe me, we are doing everything we can to contain costs and reduce expenses. But the short and long-term financial stability and pastoral viability of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish depends on us. We are solely responsible for our own fundraising and paying our own bills. It’s all up to us!
How can you help? Give what you can each week. Encourage your fellow parishioners to give what they can, too. Use our safe and easy electronic giving program (see below). Gather together a group of friends, family members, and fellow parishioners to pay one of these expenses. Every dollar makes a difference. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com. Peace, blessings, and many thanks to all! Merry Christmas! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
Merciful God, Son of Bethlehem
A Prayer for Christmas
Merciful Lord, Son of Bethlehem,
you who were born
into a family of refugees,
let us grow in solidarity with all peoples,
let us recognize that we also seek refuge
until our hearts find refuge in you.
You who were born
under an oppressive regime,
let us grow in solidarity with those
who are denied their rights and dignity.
Help us to work for justice everywhere.
You who were born a carpenter’s son,
and who have a special love
for those who work hard to make ends meet,
let us remember the dignity of work.
Let us honor you, in work and prayer,
as we seek justice for the exploited.
Just as the Magi who came
from distant lands to honor you,
let us bring to all peoples
the Good News that is your love.
Just as your birth
was announced by a choir of angels,
let us celebrate the gift of life
every time a child is conceived,
and let us honor that gift
with all of our care.
Since you were denied a place to be born,
help us to open our hearts, homes, and lives
to the coming of God among all peoples.
Merciful Lord, Son of Bethlehem,
through the cradle of our hearts,
be born again in our world. Amen.
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 all requests from any person or family in need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport and beyond. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our food pantry and clothes closet are currently closed. However, our service to those in need and those newly unemployed continues! Now more than ever, we need your support! Help us help others! Donations can be hand delivered to our parish office or mailed 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 community, please contact Barbara Frontiero at firstname.lastname@example.org or Harry Miller at 978-281-8672. If you or your family needs our help, please contact us at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry! May God bless you and your family! Merry Christmas!
The Assisi Project
We’re Praying for You!
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, closer to the Church, and closer to each other through the intercession, inspiration, and good example of Saint Francis and Saint 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 daily for those 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. May the Lord give you peace at Christmas and always!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
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 Peter Feeney