By Bishop Frank Caggiano
Do whatever he tells you (John 2:5).
As the new year begins in earnest, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is: where do we go from here? For the pandemic, which seemed to be diminishing through mid-fall, stubbornly refuses to end and the quest for a more normal return to life has been upended with the surge created by the omicron variant.
I know that many feel worn down by these last twenty months and yearn for a time when we can visit friends and family without fear and enjoy the simple blessings of life that we often take for granted. I know our collective prayer is that the latest surge will be the final crescendo in this pandemic and that the spring of this new year will finally bring real relief.
However, the question remains. Where do we go from here? It seems like an odd question to repeat. However, I believe it is the most pressing question that we face. For the answer may be as simple as the question: to go out in mission and to serve those around us, in small and great ways. I recognize to suggest that we go out in mission may seem idealistic and unrealistic given the surge in infections around us. But going out in mission does not necessarily mean to physically travel out into the world.
Rather, you and I can go out in mission in our homes and among our closest friends. In these cases, mission can take the form of compassion, patience, and understanding with those with whom we live, many who are hurting as much as we are. It can mean picking up the phone to reach out to neighbors, fellow parishioners, and friends, assuring them of our love, thoughts, and prayers.
Mission can also mean that we go out into the world prudently, carefully, and courageously, connecting with people who feel abandoned or isolated, suffering from twenty months of anxiety and fear. Whatever the pandemic brings, our mission is to be agents of healing and hope. That is our Christian mission. That is what the Lord is asking from us.
About the Author: The Most Reverend Frank Joseph Caggiano has served as Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut since his appointment by Pope Francis in 2013. He previously served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, New York. Bishop Caggiano’s episcopal motto is: “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Living the Gospel
By Lynn Ungar
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
You could hardly deny it now.
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
Surely, that has become clear.
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise the world your love —
for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
About the Author: Lynn Ungar is a mother, minister, writer, poet, choral singer, and avid trainer of Australian Shepherds. Her first book of poetry is entitled Blessing the Bread. When published online last year, her poem, Pandemic, went viral all around the world. It has been shared with us by Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is one of the oldest Catholic and Jesuit universities in the United States.
Sharing God’s Love
Sacrament of Confirmation
Celebrations Begin on January 29th
Along with Baptism and Holy 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, and apostolic ministry of the Catholic Church.
This year, sixty-five high school students from 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, engaged in their formation, and prayed together as a community of young disciples. These students are now prepared to publicly renew their baptismal vows, profess their faith, and live as faithful and faith-filled Roman Catholics.
The Very Reverend Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston for the North Region will join us as special guest celebrant and homilist for our annual celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, January 29th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Sunday, February 6th at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church; and Sunday, February 6th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
As our celebrations approach, we give thanks for our pastoral team, parents, and sponsors. In a special way, we thank Betsy Works, Associate Minister for Youth Faith Formation, for her dedication, hard work, and creative spirit. Please pray for all of our candidates and for their parents, sponsors, and families. For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy at email@example.com. Come, Holy Spirit! Peace, blessings, and congratulations to all!
A Time of Discernment
By Father Jim
It is hard to believe that it has been more than seven years since Cardinal Sean asked me to serve as pastor of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. In the beginning, the success of our collaborative was uncertain. Almost immediately, it became clear that only one priest would be assigned to our parishes on a full time basis. It then became necessary to evaluate buildings, finances, programs, mass schedules, and the work of our pastoral team. Some changes went unnoticed. Others took time to accept. And although our first months together were challenging, we have made steady progress toward becoming a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service.
The measure of our progress is a tribute to the deep faith and dedication of our parishioners. Your ongoing prayers and generosity mean the world to me. We also owe special thanks to our pastoral team which has faced every challenge with grace and resolve. We thank our parish finance councils for their expert advice and ongoing commitment to the long-term financial stability of our parishes. Lastly, we thank the members of our first combined pastoral council who have been a reliable resource for good counsel. My greatest regret as a pastor is not meeting often enough with our pastoral council. I hope to change that by creating a new pastoral council by Easter Sunday 2022.
Unlike a traditional parish council whose members focus on the needs of a single parish, our pastoral council is called to think beyond the boundaries of “my parish” toward a broader appreciation for what is best for “our parishes.” In accordance with archdiocesan guidelines, our pastoral council should meet a five times each year; will be comprised of an equal number of members from each parish; and will also include the pastor and pastoral associates (associate ministers). As such, our council will include me, two members from Holy Family Parish, two members of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and two members of our pastoral team.
Between now and Ash Wednesday, please pray about a fellow parishioner whom you believe could make a constructive contribution to our pastoral council and to strengthening the historic collaboration between our two parishes. Your nominee must be an adult (age 18 or over); a registered parishioner in one of our parishes; a weekly participant in our sacramental life; and someone who is committed to the success of our collaborative. All members of the pastoral council must be able to work in a positive and productive way with me and our pastoral team.
Nomination forms are available at the link below and will be accepted through March 2, 2022. Completed forms can be given to me; dropped in the collection basket; or mailed to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, 74 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. Nominations will be reviewed by me and a committee comprised of members of our finance councils and pastoral team. The strongest nominees will be asked to affirm that they are able and willing to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the mission of our parishes.
This is not an election or popularity contest! It is instead an important time of prayer and discernment. It should be guided by the Holy Spirit. And the primary goal should be to bring us closer to Christ, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. As this discernment process begins, please pray for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. May the Holy Spirit help us to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Synodal Way
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
For Good Discernment
Every session of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) began with the following prayer to the Holy Spirit. For hundreds of years, this ancient prayer has been invoked at councils, synods, and other Church gatherings. It is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636); and is routinely called the Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, which translates as We Stand Before You, Holy Spirit. As the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport and parishes all around the world begin the synodal journey under the guidance of Pope Francis; and as we discern the creation of a new pastoral council, we ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to God’s amazing grace.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We stand before you, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in your name.
With you alone to guide us,
make yourself at home in our hearts.
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful:
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance
lead us down the wrong path,
nor partially influence our actions.
Let us find in you our unity,
so that we may journey together to eternal life,
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All of this we ask of you,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.
Saint Ann & Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Anthony, pray for us! Saint Peter, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
We Only Have What We Give
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! 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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