By Cliff Garvey
It now seems like a long time ago, but it wasn’t. I opened my eyes and looked around at a typical hospital room. Towering over me were two intravenous poles and five plastic bags: three for my left arm; two for my right. When Brent, the day nurse, came in to check on me, I asked him what was in the bags. He explained that in my right arm were pain medication and fluid to address blood loss and dehydration. In my left arm were three different kinds of antibiotics. I asked: “Why three bags?” He said: “To fight a bad infection.” Despite this unsettling news, I didn’t feel afraid, angry, or anxious. I didn’t brood or think about it too much. I really didn’t pray very much. But that afternoon, I surrendered.
I was sick, exhausted; brought down and brought low by an infection that left me lying in a puddle of blood and goop. I was utterly powerless. For the next five days, I was medicated for pain; needed help in the bathroom, and slept for most of the day and night. All of this was humbling. Some of it was downright humiliating.
As the days wore on, despite the pain and indignity; and despite the infection that nearly took me down, I felt buoyed, carried, and literally lifted up. Lying in that hospital bed, behind closed eyes and a veil of sleep, I felt surrounded by people praying for me. It felt like they were gripping the rails of the bed — holding it up, raising me up, giving me up to the Lord. My grandparents and great-uncle were there. My Uncle Pat was there. Many of you were there, too. I could see you. I could feel you at my bedside. It was not a vision, but I saw you in my mind’s eye.
Despite a slow and frustrating recovery, I continue to feel buoyed, carried, and lifted up. Because of your prayers, I feel like I have been offered and presented to God. Here he is, Sweet Jesus, be with him, walk with him, heal him, show him the way home. It has been a deeply moving experience — a hinge moment; a conversion moment. I will never be the same. More in my heart than in my head, I hear myself repeating over and over the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “My God and my all!”
I don’t know much anymore. But I know these few things. Your prayers changed my life. Your prayers saved my life. Your prayers brought me peace. I also know now that I need all of you; that we need each other; that now more than ever, we need to pray for each other. Saint Gregory the Great reportedly once said: “When we come together through the power of our prayers, we hold each other’s hands, and we walk side by side along the slippery pathways of life.”
This is who we are. This is who we should be. Called to love God and love each other with everything we’ve got. Friends. Family. Fellow parishioners. Humble servants in the Lord’s vineyard. Brothers and sisters all. We count on each other. We depend on each other. And we make the journey together. It is life. It is love. It is loss. It is joy and pain and suffering. And eventually, it is the journey of acceptance, peace, and rest. From my heart, thank you for your prayers; and thank you for being part of my journey. May the Lord give you peace — always!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Virtual Fall Retreat
Let Us Dream
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to provide free and high quality spiritual nourishment via ccgronline.com, assisiproject.com, and our YouTube channel. We are grateful for your kind words of encouragement and support for our efforts!
Over the years, our annual summer retreat has been our most popular adult faith formation program. For six consecutive summers, under the direction of Cliff Garvey, we gathered and prayed together over a wide variety of topics: Desert Spirituality, Benedictine Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, Eastern Monastic Spirituality, Discipleship & Mission, and the Universal Call to Holiness.
This year, the ongoing pandemic and Cliff’s unexpected surgery and long recovery prompted us to postpone, then cancel our plans for an in-person summer retreat. In our disappointment, Cliff and I read and talked together about a compelling new book: Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future by Pope Francis. Written during the worst of the pandemic, the Holy Father reflects on this and other worldwide crises, the dark voices that divide us, and a way forward that can bring us together around a common mission to care for each other and for our common home.
In Let Us Dream, produced in collaboration with his friend, Austen Ivereigh, Pope Francis writes: “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. What I hear at this moment is similar to what Isaiah hears God saying through him: Come, let us talk this over. Let us dare to dream. God asks us to dare to create something new…We need to slow down, take stock, and design better ways of living together on this earth.”
In this spirit, we are happy to announce our Virtual Fall Retreat: Let Us Dream from Wednesday, October 20th through Saturday, October 23rd. On each day of our virtual retreat at 9:00am, Cliff will offer a daily reflection via podcast that corresponds with the first three sections of the book (plus a fourth bonus podcast):
- Listen Now: Day 1: Open Your Eyes
- Listen Now: Day 2: What Comes from God
- Listen Now: Day 3: No One Is Saved Alone
- Episode 4: Saturday, October 23rd: A Time to Heal
Finally, on Saturday, October 23rd at 8:00am, all are welcome to join Father Jim in celebrating Holy Mass for the intentions of God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus; and for an increase in peace, justice, and solidarity in our suffering world. Cliff will also post a concluding podcast on Saturday morning!
All are invited to join us on retreat! You do not need to read the book in order to fully participate, but copies are available for $26.00 each. If you would like to purchase a copy, please see Father Jim or contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s pray together! Spread the word! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Fall Bake Sale
Weekend of October 23rd & 24th
The Holy Family Women’s Guild will host a Fall Bake Sale during the weekend of Saturday, October 23rd after the 4:00pm Mass in Saint Ann Church; and Sunday, October 24th after the 8:15am Mass in Saint Ann Church. We’ll be selling homemade breads, apple pies, pumpkin pies, and other delicious baked goods! Donations of your family’s favorite treats are most welcome! All proceeds support Holy Family Parish!
Established in 2005, the Holy Family Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages and backgrounds in prayer, fellowship, and service to our parish and the wider community. New members and volunteers are always welcome! For more information about the Guild and its good work in our parish, please contact Arlene Lesch at email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your generous and ongoing support!
Respect Life Month
The Seamless Garment of Life
By Father Jim
The Roman Catholic Church professes what is called a “consistent ethic of life” because we believe in our hearts that each and every human being is created in the image and likeness of God; and that Jesus Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected for each and every one of us. In this way, every human being, without exception, is sacred and loved unconditionally by our God who is Master of the Universe and Creator of heaven and earth.
In 1971, Eileen Egan (1912-2000), the founder of the organization that would become known as Pax Christi USA, first likened this consistent ethic of life to the “seamless garment” that Jesus wore but was not torn by his executioners (John 19:23). And in 1984, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996), Archbishop of Chicago, delivered a series of lectures that gave full voice to the Church’s belief in the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
Cardinal Bernardin, a soft-spoken and deeply prayerful priest, spoke initially against the legalization of abortion and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But he soon expanded the scope of the “seamless garment” to include assisted suicide, capital punishment, education, euthanasia, health care, poverty, torture, and unjust war. Cardinal Bernardin argued that each of these issues is complex and different, but that they are all linked because the intrinsic value of human life is at the center of each one. He said: “When human life is considered ‘cheap’ or easily expendable in one area, eventually nothing is held as sacred and all lives are in jeopardy.” As a Catholic and as a citizen, I couldn’t agree more.
Overall, it seems clear that none of the major political parties in the United States professes a consistent ethic of life that reflects the fullness of the Church’s teachings. Likewise, neither of the leading presidential candidates in the last election represented the principles of the seamless garment as advocated by Catholic theologians like Eileen Egan and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. On some level, this is understandable because politics is a human endeavor and human beings are imperfect creatures. At the same time, Catholics are called to be “moved by mercy” to accept differences, forgive and love each other, and preach the Gospel to the whole world.
In the end, we can pray with the following questions: Do we believe in the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death? Do we believe in defending the lives of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters: the aged, the condemned, the disabled, the poor, the sick, the stranger, and the unborn? Do we believe that taking a human life through neglect, punishment, or torture is unjust? Do we believe that a wholehearted respect for life involves sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, no matter who they are, what they are, or where they’re from? If we answer “yes” to these questions, then we take one step closer toward preserving the seamless garment of life. During these challenging times, let us continue to pray together for our country, for our leaders, and for each other.
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Respect Life Month
Praying for Life & Healing
A Scriptural Litany for the Sick
Do not fear or be dismayed,
for the Lord, your God,
is with you wherever you go.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall want for nothing;
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in distress.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and do forget all his benefits.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all of your illnesses.
Come to me,
all you who are weary
and carrying heavy burdens
and I will give you rest.
I am with you always,
until the end of the world.
I am the living bread
that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats this bread will live forever.
I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me,
even though they die, will live.
Do not let you hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me.
Our Pastor’s Message
Never the Same
Our Lady’s Financial Report
By Father Jim
In his recent book, Let Us Dream, Pope Francis writes: “The basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out the same. If you get through it, you come out better or worse, but never the same.” In one way or another, all of us have been touched by the ongoing pandemic. Some among us have been sick. Some have lost their jobs or small businesses. Some have lost longtime friends or beloved family members. And some have just lost their way — mentally, physically, or spiritually. This is a time of loss and a time of testing for every single one of us.
During the last fiscal year, Our Lady of Good Voyage was both blessed and chalenged in many ways. More and more people are returning to Mass. More and more people are visiting our website in search of free and high quality spiritual nourishment. More and more volunteers are returning to their ministries of helping the poor, visiting the sick, and raising funds for our parish. And almost all parishioners have shown a willingness to offer the small sacrifice of wearing a face mask as a practical sign of our love and care for each other.
At the same time, we face daunting financial challenges. Overall parish income was down by 21% or almost $60,000 during the past fiscal year. Utility bills and insurance premiums have risen by 5% during the past fiscal year. Our church buildings and grounds are in almost constant need of repair or preventive maintenance. And although the archdiocese and insurance provider have assessed the damage to our bell tower, we will still need to raise tens of thousands of dollars to repair and restore both towers. The initial estimate is at least $150,000 per tower!
Despite these challenges, our parish budget is balanced and even ran a surplus for the Fiscal Year 2021 that ended on June 30th. This surplus is due in part to reductions in pastoral team salaries and benefits during the pandemic. It is also the direct result of your generosity during the final weeks of our Grand Annual Collection last spring. If we had not reached our goal, we would never have balanced our budget. Thank you! We should also thank the members of our dedicated finance council who keep a close eye on our finances and always provide good and sound advice: Cynthia Cafasso, Becky Carrancho, and Jean Madruga.
Let’s be honest. We are solely responsible for the short term stability and long term viability of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Without your generous and ongoing financial support, we will be unable to sustain the programs and ministries that our community depends on in the church buildings that we all cherish. Generations of good people have worshipped here. It is now up to us, you and me, to step up, help out, give what we can, and pay tribute to the men and women who built this parish and entrusted it to us. We may never be the same, but let’s dream of better days. And let’s work together to build a bright future for our beloved parish! Peace, blessings, and sincere thanks to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
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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This Week’s Homepage
For All Fellow Parishioners Who Are Sick & Suffering