By Father Jim
In each one of our churches, there is a tabernacle — a cabinet that contains the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Beside each tabernacle is a beeswax sanctuary candle that represents the light of Christ and the real presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At Christmas in each one of our churches, there is also a nativity scene that tells the story of the birth of the Christ Child — the Son of God who is born among us, walks among us, suffers with us and for us, and rises from death for our sake and for the salvation of the whole world. God is with us!
The tabernacle, sanctuary candle, and nativity scene remind us that Jesus is truly present in God’s house, in our lives, and in the lives of the people we meet along the way. If you are reading this message at home, think about the last person you saw on the street. If you are reading this message in a church, look with an open heart at the man, woman, or child sitting behind you or in front of you. That man, woman, or child is a beloved gift from God, a brother or sister of the babe born in a manger. No matter who they are. No matter where they are from. No matter what they have done in life. No one is excluded. No one is left out. No one is left behind — ever.
At Christmas, our churches are more crowded than usual. This is a true blessing. Some of the people you see are here every weekend. Some of the people you see come to church once or twice each month. Some of the people you see join us maybe once or twice a year. And some of the people you see are taking a chance again on God — and on us. Do we welcome them with open arms? Do we make room for them in our favorite pew? Do we greet them with a smile, kind word, or best wishes for the holiday season? When we do these things, we do more to nurture our shared faith than any homily, parish program, or slick marketing campaign could ever do.
Let’s be honest. We are living during a time when people are afraid and anxious. We grieve over so much that has been lost. We feel alienated from each other. With good reason, we are suspicious of our leaders. We lack trust in our institutions. We lack a sense of belonging to our community and to each other. We don’t come to church because we don’t see the point or because we don’t feel welcome or worthy to be here. But here, in our churches, the tabernacle, the candle, and the nativity scene tell a different story. It is a story of belonging. It is a story of love, acceptance, and mutual support. It is a story of joy, suffering, and perseverance. It is a story of encounter — with Jesus and with an imperfect community of wounded healers.
Pope Francis says: “You do not convince people [to embrace faith] with arguments, strategies, or tactics. You convince them by simply learning how to welcome them.” So let’s get to know each other. Let’s get to know Jesus, together! We offer you our warmest welcome. We invite you to walk with us through these difficult times. We ask you to pray with us and help us take care of each other and our common home. And we long for you to join us as we strive to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. Yes, you! Peace and blessings to all for a Merry Christmas!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Worship
Christmas Mass Schedule
December 24th & 25th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport at Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish invites you and your family to join us for Holy Mass in celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas!
Christmas Eve – December 24th – Masks Required
- Saint Joachim Church
Mass at 2:00pm
- Saint Ann Church
Mass at 4:00pm
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Mass at 6:00pm & Midnight
Christmas Day – December 25th – Masks Required
- Saint Ann Church
Mass at 8:15am
- Saint Joachim Church
Mass at 10:00am
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Mass at 11:45am
Christmas Masses Online
Pastor’s Note: In light of rising new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has mandated all people who attend public Masses in the Archdiocese of Boston (including funerals, weddings, and Christmas Masses) must wear face masks in our churches. Children under the age of five are not required to wear masks; and children under the age of two should not wear masks.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, our twin goals in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to offer free and high quality spiritual nourishment online. Masks and hand sanitizer are available in all of our churches. Social distancing is still available in Saint Ann Church (both side seating sections of the church). Our Christmas Mass will be also available on YouTube.
Wearing masks is a small sacrifice and a powerful symbol of our love and care for each other. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support during these challenging times. Mask up! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Peace and blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! — Father Jim
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
New Year’s Day
Begins with Mass at 8:00am
It has been a challenging year. Crime is up. The divisions are deeper. Our streets and neighborhoods are increasingly poisoned by litter. Inflation is at the highest it has been in four decades. And despite new vaccines, more Americans have died from COVID this year than last year.
Despite these challenging times, we remain a people of hope. In this spirit, all friends and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim and the Assisi Project for Saturday Morning with Saint Francis on New Year’s Day.
This special morning of prayer will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, the church will remain open for silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At 8:45am, we will pray the Franciscan Rosary and think on Seven Joyful events in the life of the Blessed Mother. We will conclude at 11:00am with Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pope Francis says: “The Rosary is a prayer that accompanies me. It is also the prayer of ordinary people and the saints…and a prayer from my heart.” In gratitude for God’s blessings and high hopes for the future, we will offer our Franciscan Rosary for Pope Francis and his intentions; and for the poor, the sick, all who suffer from addiction, and all who feel left behind by the Church.
If you would like the Assisi Project to pray for your special intention during the Christmas Season, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please see Cliff or visit our website at assisiproject.com. May the Lord give you peace! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Youth Faith Formation
First Penance & Reconciliation
Praying for Our Young Disciples
At the dawn of a new year, fifty-three of our youngest fellow parishioners are continuing their journey of faith in preparation for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. On Saturday, January 8th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, they will take the next big step by participating in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) for the very first time.
First Penance is an important milestone in the life of our young disciples. It teaches them (and reminds all of us) about the importance of conscience, humility, forgiveness, and God’s boundless gifts of love and mercy for each and every person. As preparations for First Penance and First Holy Communion continue, please pray for all of our students and their families, and for our catechists, volunteers, and pastoral team members.
For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. For more information about the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org; or check out our easy-to-use guide (see link below).
Adult Faith Formation
Welcoming New Disciples
All adults (age 18 and over) who have not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church (Baptism, Eucharist, and/or Confirmation) are invited to join The Way. Typically called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the Way prepares adults to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. As part of this special program, we also prepare adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Our group gathers twice each month for fellowship, formation, and faith sharing. Our next gathering is scheduled for Saturday, January 8th (weather permitting) beginning with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. If you feel called to prepare for the sacraments and grow closer to Jesus and the Church, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Merry Christmas!
The Synodal Journey
Closeness Is The Program
By Father Jim
On October 10, 2021, Pope Francis formally opened the Synod on Synodality, a two year, three stage process of “mutual listening that involves the entire People of God.” This synod may be the most ambitious effort to renew and revitalize the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council which began fifty-nine years ago last month.
Pope Francis says: “Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, walking together.” But the word synod may be new to most of us. It comes from the Greek, synodos, which means simply: “on the road together.”
According to the International Theological Commission, a synod is “an ancient and venerable word in the tradition of the Church…It indicates the path along which the People of God walk together. Equally, it refers to the Lord Jesus, who presents himself as ‘the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)’, and to the fact that Christians, his followers, were originally called ‘followers of the Way (cf. Acts 9:2, 19, 9.23; 22:4; 24, 14:22).”
The preparatory document of the synod also says: “In this sense, synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us. Ultimately, this path of walking together is the most effective way of manifesting and putting into practice the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God (PD 1).”
According to the Holy Father, the synod “is not about garnering opinions or taking a survey, but listening to the Holy Spirit.” It is not simply a series of meetings, consultations, or power point presentations. It is not simply completing a survey, meeting with a bishop, local pastor, or pastoral team. It is not simply about speaking your mind on this or that issue related to our work together as a Christian community.
A synod is instead a journey that includes every member of God’s family. It is an opportunity to meet each other and to share our experience of God’s love and mercy in our lives. And it is about building up communion, participation, and perhaps even a stronger sense of mission in our parishes. It is all about our way of being — the way of living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church during challenging times.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, the results of the synodal path may not be realized during our lifetimes. Some things may change. Some things may not change. Whatever happens, let’s make this journey together, always together, as a community united in prayer, fellowship, and spirit. Let’s open our hearts and minds to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let’s work together to grow closer to Jesus, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. As Pope Francis likes to say: “Closeness is the program.”
More news and information related to the synodal way are coming soon! Until then, all are invited to prayerfully complete the Archdiocese of Boston’s preliminary synod survey which can be found on our website: ccgronline.com. If you have any questions about the synod and its work, please see me or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and blessings to all! Merry Christmas!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
In Giving We Receive!
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 email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes! May God bless you and your family, now and always! Merry Christmas!
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