By Father Jim
In this weekend’s reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 1:29-39), Jesus travels to Capernaum where he dazzles the people by his teaching and miraculous ability to heal the sick. Jesus’ presence, his touch, and his words carry the divine power that cures every illness and liberates every soul from the powers of darkness. No one is judged. No one is excluded. The healing power of Christ is always present and offered to everyone.
As we pray with these miracles, however, we find ourselves in a pandemic. Around the world, more than 104 million people have been infected with the coronavirus. More than 2.2 million people are dead. In our own country, more than 26 million people have been sick. More than 450,000 people have died. New variants of the virus may be more contagious and perhaps even more deadly. And for most of us, the waiting list for an effective vaccine is long — too long.
Where is Jesus? Where is the healing? Where are the miracles? In this weekend’s Gospel Acclamation from the Gospel of Matthew, we read: “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases (Mt 8:17).” Scripture scholars interpret this verse as an affirmation that Christ heals everyone. Even in the midst of a global crisis unlike anything most of us have ever experienced, we are never alone. The Lord who is God suffers with us.
This may seem like small comfort to the sick and sorrowful. Everyone knows someone who has been sick. Everyone knows someone who has died during the pandemic. Everyone knows someone who has lost their job or their house or their business. And everyone has faced hard choices about self-isolating, social distancing, and sacrificing precious time with loved ones in the hope of protecting each other from the virus. By now, some among us may be shaking our fists at the heavens and shouting: “Jesus, where are you? Heal us! Protect us!
As a community united by faith, we know in our hearts, at the core of our being, that Jesus is here. He suffers among us. He cures the sick, consoles the grieving, and lifts up those brought low by despair. Jesus is here, in our church tabernacles, always present in the Blessed Sacrament, whether or not we can worship together. He is here, ever present in our prayers for each other, in our prayers for mercy, healing, and protection. He is here in the spiritual communion that has deepened among us despite the face masks and canceled holiday celebrations.
Jesus is here. His miracles are brought to life by the doctors, nurses, first responders, and everyday saints who care for the sick and dying. His miracles are brought to life by the scientists who work day and night to develop new treatments and vaccines. His miracles are brought to life every time we reach out to someone in need; every time we call or send a card to an elderly neighbor; every time we run an errand for someone who cannot leave home. Jesus is here whenever we trust in God, believe in science, and pray together.
From the Book of Psalms, we sing: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name.” Jesus knows each one of us by name. He hears our cries because he grieves with us. He feels our pain because he suffers with us. And he heals us by giving us the courage and strength to pray for each other, take care of each other, and forge ahead together in prayer, fellowship, and service. Now more than ever, let us: “Praise the Lord, for he is good; sing praise to our God, for he is gracious (Ps 147:1).” Amen!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Sharing God’s Love
Welcome Bishop Mark O’Connell!
Along with Baptism and Eucharist, Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism through the outpouring of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Right Judgment, Understanding, Wisdom, and Wonder & Awe. These gifts seal or confirm the mystical union between the candidates and Christ; and they prepare them to actively participate in the prayer, worship, apostolic ministry, and countless good works of the Roman Catholic Church.
This year, fifty-seven high school students from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish have successfully completed the requirements of our Confirmation Preparation Program. During the past two years, they attended Mass together and completed a rigorous program of formation. In addition, they participated remotely in the New Spirit Evening of Reflection; completed a fundraising project for their home parish; and prayed together as a community of young disciples. These students are now well-prepared to publicly renew their baptismal promises, profess their faith, and live as faithful and faith-filled Catholic disciples.
The Very Reverend Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston for the North Region, will join us again as special guest celebrant and homilist for our annual celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, February 6th at Saint Ann Church and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Father Jim will preside over additional celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation at Mass on Sunday, February 7th at Saint Joachim Church and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
As always, the success of our youth faith formation program depends on volunteers. The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport gives God great thanks and praise for the good work of Betsy Works and for our dedicated and hardworking team of catechists: Peter Brau, Jennifer Dort, Angelica Duran, Mary Duran, and Rosalie Nicastro. Their generous gifts of time and talent have ensured that all of our candidates are ready to accept and embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at their Confirmation. Thank you! May God bless you!
As we begin our celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation, please pray for our candidates and their parents, sponsors, and families. For more information about youth faith formation in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace, blessings, and congratulations to all!
Call to Prayer
A Pray for the Journey
Preparing for Lent
Almighty and loving God,
you have walked a road for us
that led to a place of suffering,
where you suffered in our place.
You paid our debts, broke our chains,
and brought us into your light and life.
You declared ‘it is finished’
as you carried off the sting of death.
As we prepare for Lent,
we seek your favor.
May we please walk with you always.
May we see you at work in our work.
May we learn
as we re-enact your fasting and prayer.
May we grow
as we model your forgiveness.
And may we rejoice in your salvation.
Teach us and help us
walk in your path
as we seek your kingdom.
And as we walk together,
let us offer gifts of love and mercy,
the gifts you gave to us
when you walked this road.
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.
Season of Lent
Ash Wednesday Mass Schedule
The Holy Season of Lent is a time for prayer, penance, and almsgiving during which all Christian disciples are called to renew their faith in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17th, which is a Holy Day of Abstinence and Fasting for all Roman Catholics. All are reminded that Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation to attend any worship services. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Mass with limited attendance and distribute ashes according to the following schedule:
- Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am
- Saint Ann Church at 12:00pm
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 7:00pm
In an effort to ensure the health and safety of all parishioners, we will continue to follow all of the health and safety guidelines recommended by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ashes will not be imposed on foreheads. Instead, we will distribute a Lent Care Package that includes a packet of blessed ashes and prayer booklets for prayer at home. Also, in order to attend one of our Ash Wednesday Masses, all are required to register by clicking the link at ccgronline.com/mass beginning on Sunday, February 14th at 12:00pm. This reservation period will end on Tuesday, February 16th at 6:00pm. Reservations for Ash Wednesday Mass by phone or e-mail will not be accepted (no exceptions).
These are extraordinary measures for extraordinary times. But again, our fervent prayer is that if we offer some small sacrifices now, then by God’s grace, we will be together again sometime soon as a happy and healthy community united as always in prayer, fellowship, and service. Until then, please support your home parish, take good care of your family, and look out for your neighbors. If would like us to receive a Lent Care Package by mail, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your ongoing prayers, support, and cooperation! Be kind, be smart, and be safe! Peace and blessings to all!
The Assisi Project
Free 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 twenty podcasts and with more on the way! These podcasts are free and always available! Just click on the links below:
- A Forest Full of Junipers
- A Prayer for America
- Saint John XXIII: A Farmer’s Son
- Saint John XXIII: Good Pope John
- Love Is The First Fact
- Making the Ground Green: A Good Man’s Gospel
- Servants & Subjects
- If God Can Work Through Me…
- The Buoy in the Road
- Choose Love
- Mad As Hell?
- Mary, Mother of All Peoples (Parts 1 & 2)
- Saint Damien of Molokai: Martyr for Charity
- The School of Mary: Praying with Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Daily Prayers
- Our Mission: Becoming Franciscans in Spirit
- The Living Rosary – Day 1: A Journey Begins
- The Living Rosary – Day 2: A Journey Continues
- The Living Rosary – Day 3: A Prayer for Hope
- The Living Rosary – Day 4: A Prayer for Tomorrow
- The Living Rosary – Day 5: A Prayer for Joy
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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 email@example.com. 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 Ellen “Becky” Lucas