By Father Jim
Last week, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) posted an article about the spiritual practices of the so-called “Generation Z.” These are the children born during the mid-1990s until the early 2010s. These young people, many now finishing high school, attending college, or entering the workforce, belong to the first generation that grew up with social media and digital technology. These are our children and grandchildren who came of age engaging with cell phones, rather than staring at television screens. And they are sometimes called the “loneliest generation.”
According to a recent study conducted by the Springtide Research Institute, which is affiliated with the Lasallian Christian Brothers, nearly 75% of young people (age 13 to 25) regard themselves as religious, but only 16% see their traditional faith community (i.e. parish) as a place where they can turn in times of trial. Nearly one-third of these teenagers and young adults feel “completely alone much of the time.” More than half have little or no trust in organized religions and religious institutions; but oddly enough, nearly two-thirds have some form of spiritual life.
Unfortunately, according to NCR’s coverage, many of these young people have turned away from churches, mosques, and synagogues in favor of crystals, astrology, and tarot cards. When interviewed about their interest and reliance on these practices, some young people said that they wanted to think more for themselves, find some comfort and courage in life, and discover new ways of connecting with others. One young man said: “I think crystals are like ‘saints’ for young people and spirituals. Sometimes you need something or someone rooted in courage.”
Needless to say, the results of this study are heartbreaking. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of courage. He offers us boundless love, mercy, and friendship. He reaches out to us with open arms no matter who we are, no matter where we’re from, and no matter what we’ve done. If we are poor, he feeds us. If we are sick, he comforts us. If we are lonely, he is ever- ready to lift us up, boost our spirits, and walk with us through life’s darkest valleys.
How do we reach this lonely generation? To be sure, we won’t see them in our churches if they see us fighting amongst ourselves or hear us gossiping about each other. We won’t bring them back by judging them or preaching a gospel of exclusion and rigidity. We won’t welcome them home with a myopic emphasis on the March for Life or Natural Family Planning (however important these issues may be). As the old hymn says — they will know we are Christians by our love!
So, how do we love them? Where do we begin? Packaged programs, slick presentations, and retreating into the past are not the answer. We can show our children and grandchildren the way, not preaching or proselytizing, but by truly living the gospel and sharing God’s love. We can be patient because the Lord works in his own way and in his own time. Ultimately, God’s grace will bring them back to the faith, not you and me. Best of all, we can pray for them — everyday, throughout the day, no matter what, no matter how they choose to live, no matter how they choose to worship.
In the end, we can follow the example of Saint Monica, the long-suffering mother of Saint Augustine, whose feast we celebrate on Friday, August 27th. She learned that the best way to share the Gospel is to live it — by loving God with our whole heart and soul; and by loving each other, taking care of each other, and praying for each other. She learned that Jesus looks for the lost and lonely sheep when we pray for them. Saint Monica, pray for us! Saint Monica, pray for our children!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Call to Prayer
Praying for a Lonely Generation
Feast of Saint Monica – August 27th
Dear Saint Monica,
from your place in heaven,
I beg you to pray to the Lord
for the sake of my child/grandchild (name),
who has wandered from the faith.
I know that our children belong
not to us, but to God,
and that God often permits this wandering
as part of a person’s spiritual journey.
Your own son, Saint Augustine, wandered, too.
Eventually, he found the faith,
became a believer,
and in that belief became a teacher of truth.
Help me to be patient,
and to believe that all things,
even this movement away from faith,
will work eventually to God’s good purpose.
For the sake of my child/grandchild’s soul,
I pray for trust in God’s plan.
Dear Saint Monica,
teach me to persevere in prayer,
as you did for your own son.
Inspire me to live in a way
that will not further distance
my child/grandchild (name)
from Christ and the Church,
but only draw him/her gently
toward the Lord’s marvelous light.
Dear Saint Monica,
pray for me and for my child/grandchild (name),
so that we may join you in heaven
and share in your joyful and eternal
praise and thanks to God. Amen.
Summer Carillon Concerts
Our Lady of Good Voyage
Continues Friday, August 27th
A much-loved summer tradition continues at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport! Our Summer Carillon Concerts will continue on Friday, August 27th at 6:30pm (rain or shine)!
This year, Lucy Pallazola, Cynthia Cafasso, and Thomas Dort have prepared programs that include familiar classical and international pieces, popular hymns and songs, patriotic melodies, and even selections especially for kids! We are especially excited that Thomas Dort, a young disciple just turned thirteen years old, who learned to play the carillon bells during the pandemic, will be performing along with our talented adult musicians!
Installed in 1922, the carillon bells in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church were the first toned sent of carillon bells in the United States. Although the bells can be heard from blocks away, the sound is best near the church. This year, Our Lady’s Guild will be selling cold drinks, ice cream, and even 50-50 raffle tickets to support our efforts to repair and restore our historic bell towers which were damaged during a late winter wind storm.
Our Summer Carillon Concerts are a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to gather outside with fellow parishioners to savor the gift of music! Once again, our next Summer Carillon Concerts are scheduled for Friday, August 27th at 6:30pm and Friday, September 3rd at 6:30pm. For more information about these special musical programs, please contact Lucy Pallazola at email@example.com. Spread the word! All Summer Carillon Concerts are free and open to the public! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Living the Gospel
Coming This Fall!
“The Way” was the among the earliest names for followers of the Risen Christ. The Way also appears as a biblical reference for the earliest Christian communities in the Acts of the Apostles. In addition, tradition teaches that both before and after his conversion, Saint Paul referred to the disciples of Christ as part of the Way. More than two thousand years later, Catholic Christians are still part of the Way of Jesus Christ. But as we all know, a life of discipleship is not a hobby or pastime. It is a vocation, a way of life that lays claim to our whole heart, mind, and strength. As disciples, our lives should be focused on and inspired by our faith in Christ, who is our merciful redeemer, friend, and brother. And as his disciples, we are called to reach out to those who need our help in growing closer to Christ and the Church.
If you are an adult (age 18 and over) and have not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation), then please consider joining “The Way”, a new adult faith formation program that will begin this fall. The Way (typically called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is a seven month program that prepares adults to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. As part of this same program, we will prepare adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation (to be received at either the Easter Vigil or at a regional archdiocesan celebration). Other parishioners who have received the Sacraments are also welcome to join us!
Our group will gather for fellowship, formation, and faith sharing. As a community of disciples, we will learn together about the basic beliefs, teachings, and traditions of the Church; and we will explore the methods of prayer and spirituality that have brought centuries of believers closer to Christ Jesus and to the Church. In addition, we will talk openly and honestly about the challenges of living an authentic life of faith, hope, and love in the modern world. Our first gathering will be Saturday, October 9th at 8:00am. If you would like to learn more about this journey of faith and become part of a unique fellowship in preparation for the sacraments of God’s Church, then please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Marian Podcast Series
Founded by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that is dedicated to helping believers of all ages and backgrounds more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Father Jim asked Cliff to look back on nearly two decades of ministry as a catechist, retreat leader, and spiritual director to create a series of free audio recordings as a way of continuing his adult faith formation ministry.
As of this weekend, Cliff has created fifty-two podcasts with more on the way! In commemoration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all are encouraged to listen again or listen for the first time to those podcasts that are dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. Just click on the links below:
- New! Mary’s Song, Part 2
- Mary’s Song, Part 1
- Praying Fatima, Part 1
- Praying Fatima, Part 2
- Mary, Mother of God
- Mary, Mother of the Church
- Mary, Mother of All Peoples (Parts 1 & 2)
- School of Mary: Praying with Our Lady of Lourdes
- 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 13 to 96 and live in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, across the United States, and in Angola, Brazil, Canada, Italy, and Spain. 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 loved one, please contact Cliff at email@example.com.
Finally, Pope Francis has asked all Christians to continue praying for an end to the pandemic; and he has called all Catholics to pray for this special intention through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One way of fulfilling this call to prayer can be reflecting on one of the Assisi Project’s Marian Podcasts!
However we pray, wherever we pray, whenever we pray, our prayers may be among our most important contributions to the future of our churches, our communities, and our sick and suffering world. So, let us raise our voices in a chorus of petition that reaches the heavens! Let us offer our hearts to a spiritual communion that builds and strengthens our parishes! Now more than ever, let’s pray together! Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving has become an essential component of parish support in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport; and it is available in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and easy to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check.
Donations can be made on a weekly, monthly, or one-time-only basis; and it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. In additional to the weekly offering, you can also give electronically to our church restoration funds which helps us plan for the repair and maintenance of our beloved and historic churches.
During these challenging times, Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish need your support more than ever before! Please prayerfully consider enrolling in our ‘We Share!’ electronic giving program! For more information about setting up a new account or for assistance with your existing account, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes! May God bless you and your family, now and always!
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 Michael Medeiros