By Anne Deneen
Yesterday marked a year since my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, one of the not good kind. The year and a half of the pandemic was marked by loss for us, as it has been for so many, with deaths of friends and family, some expected, some not, some from longstanding illness, one from COVID. The brain tumor was one more surprise of this year. So far, he does well.
I’m finding my way every day with whatever presents itself. We are living so close to the minutiae of daily life, in part, because attending to the care of someone living with a brain tumor requires that attention to the minutiae — what will be the challenge of the day, how is the fatigue, is there enough protein in the house, can we go for a walk, or what music will wake up the brain, what healing things can we do. It’s not that we speak of these out loud every day, though some days we do. The many considerations are under the surface all the time.
Every day, there are things and events that move us to tears, whether it’s in the immediacy of our personal life — like a grandchild’s sudden smile — or in the public sphere, the ongoing pandemic, the threats to democracy, the suffering of so many people and creatures, the losses of habitats, the droughts, fires, floods, and storms. But next to that, next to those tears, is beauty — so jarring to live with both, the suffering and the beauty, every day, to learn each day to expand the edges of compassion, to keep my seat and bear witness, to act, if I can, in ways of weaving justice, which is very limited right now, and to keep loving.
I went from a very public life as a pastor and community religious leader to a very hidden life. There’s relief and loss in that. Relief for being able to put down some responsibilities, and loss for being able to put down some of those same responsibilities. I miss my public life and our lively community, and I cherish this new familial and private one.
In this hidden life, courage and perseverance have become the loving virtues that shine most brightly to me, mostly my spouse’s immense courage and devotion to living the fullness of existence. And in the wider world, the courage and perseverance of so many people working to create a better world, who never give up the work of hope and justice. On the small scale, our home scale, the virtues are the same. Why do I rise in the morning? How will I live this day? How will I love? How will I serve?
Today in our hidden life, my beloved went out early in the dawn to pick wild blueberries. It’s a beautiful morning, very mild. Picking blueberries is not an easy thing for him. His balance is uncertain on uneven ground, so he has to find a way to set his feet on the granite and moss without feeling like he might fall over. His right hand isn’t working very well, from the tumor, so sorting through leaves and picking the berries off takes great concentration. “I dropped quite a few,” he reports when he comes in, “good for the birds.” While he was picking, the catbirds talked from the birch tree, and a chickadee dropped into the bushes to feed on the berries, just a foot away from his gentle hands.
Later, we made oatmeal and ate the berries. I haven’t presided at a communion service since March of last year, when we temporarily closed our church. And in October, I left my calling to be here at home. But these blueberries, this oatmeal, this beautiful morning, these loving hands that picked the blueberries, the birds in the birch trees, the wet ground, the drift of cloud, my spouse lifting his spoon carefully, this moment, this, too, is a communion.
About This Week’s Message
By Father Jim
For the past seven years, we have worked hard to transform our website and weekly newsletter into something more than bulletin boards for announcements about upcoming events, meetings, and pleas for financial support. Each week, we offer a prayer and reflection on the sacred scriptures, Catholic spirituality, or some aspect of living the Christian life during uncertain times.
From day one, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s programs and ministries has been focused on prayer, fellowship, and service; and our mission has been all about living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church. Like Pope Francis, we see the Church as a field hospital where all people — regardless of who they are, where they’re from, or what they’ve done — are welcome to pray with us and work alongside us as humble laborers in the Lord’s vineyard.
This week, we are delighted to share a reflection by our dear friend Anne Deneen, who served for many years as the pastor of Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Gloucester. Anne’s moving account of finding joy, grace, and communion in the midst of trial and tribulation is something that all of us should consider — perhaps now more than ever. We are so grateful for Anne’s friendship, support, and encouragement! Please pray for Anne and her family, and for every family that needs our prayers! Peace and blessings to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Call to Prayer
For Our Gardens & Orchards
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Almighty and Most Merciful God,
before Adam and Eve, our first parents, ever sinned,
they lived happily in the Garden of Eden.
As we read in the Holy Book,
you walked with them,
and they heard your voice in the garden.
Later, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
began his fearful passion
with his sweat of blood
in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Ever since then,
a garden has been a holy place.
You still walk there with us,
where we can see
your generous grace working for us
in the green things that grow,
and the trees that blossom,
and bear such rich and nourishing fruit.
And we can see again
the Cross of Christ in every tree,
and his Crown of Thorns
in every barb and bramble.
Bless all gardens and orchards
in this broad land of ours,
and give us a rich and plentiful harvest.
Help us, as we go about our work,
to see you in your loving kindness,
working for us and with us.
Help us to do your will at all times.
Then, some day,
we will walk with you and your Son,
and our Blessed Mother Mary,
down the paths of another garden,
far better, far more beautiful
than even the Garden of Eden.
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.
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, August 7th
Begins with First Saturday Mass at 8:00am!
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey after their first pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers in North America, Europe, and Africa. Our mission is to help believers of all ages and backgrounds better live the Gospel of Christ through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
Our next Saturday Morning with Saint Francis is scheduled for Saturday, August 7th beginning with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. We will gather in-person to pray together and renew the bonds of faith, friendship, and mutual support that have sustained us for more than a decade! If you haven’t joined us before, please prayerfully consider joining us now!
After Mass, Father Jim and Cliff will lead a discussion about what the pandemic teaches us about the importance of prayer in our lives. Pope Francis has said again and again that this kind of crisis changes us; and that we cannot simply return to some ideal sense of normal.
With the Holy Father’s good advice in mind, we will reflect on questions related to our personal experiences during the pandemic: What does prayer mean to you? What role does prayer play in your daily life? What did you learn during the pandemic about your relationship with Christ, with the Church, and with friends, colleagues, family members, and fellow parishioners?
All parishioners and friends are invited to join us for the Assisi Project’s Saturday Morning with Saint Francis! If you plan to join us or want more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit our website (see link below). Please join us! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
Youth Faith Formation
First Holy Communion
Blessings & Congratulations!
On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, Father Jim wishes to congratulate the following children from Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish who successfully completed our program of preparation and who received their First Holy Communion during the month of June:
Francis de Brigard
During the past year, sixty young fellow parishioners and their parents prayed, studied, and grew together in prayer, fellowship, and service. They learned together that disciples of all ages are called to live the Gospel, share God’s love and mercy, and rebuild the Church. They are all well-prepared to receive the Body & Blood of the Risen Lord and to become faithful and faith-filled disciples.
In addition to these young disciples, thirty more students and their families will celebrate First Holy Communion over the course of the summer at Sunday Masses in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. We look forward to welcoming them into our churches and parish families!
Please pray for our young disciples, their parents, and their families so that they will continue to grow in faith, hope, and love; and that they will continue to join us for Mass on a regular basis. Please also pray in thanksgiving for our pastoral team and our dedi- cated volunteers who make these celebrations possible. For more information about First Holy Communion, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your prayers and support! May God bless you and your family!
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! 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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This Week’s Homepage
In Memory of MaryEllen McLeod