By Cliff Garvey
Roman Selivachov is my friend. He is an artist and iconographer who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. If you attend Mass at Saint Ann Church or Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, then you have seen some of his work. Roman’s amazing icon of the Holy Face of Christ is a favorite at Our Lady’s; and his compelling icons of Saint Peter and Saint Paul adorn the high altar at Saint Ann’s. His icons have been commissioned and shipped all around the world. And we are very blessed to be able to pray with some of them here.
Six weeks ago, Roman was concerned about the rhetoric coming from the Russian dictator, but did not seem frightened. We exchanged messages about his family and his art. He sent photos of a few new icons he thought that I might like. Finally, he said: “Everything is fine. The children are healthy. I have orders and I draw all the time.” It appears that Roman and his family left for a brief vacation and returned home to Kyiv.
Last week, when the first images of Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine were shared with the world, I wrote again to Roman. In response, he described the invasion as a “sudden attack.” He said: “Today at 5:00am, we woke up to the sounds of explosions! Thank you for your prayers! With God’s help, we will survive!” One day later, he was filled with concern for his wife, Oleksandra, and their children: Myron, Tryfon, Ustyna, and Martyna. He said that while his family was safe and “still had everything”, the Ukrainian army was in desperate need of first aid supplies.
Father Jim and I promised that we would pray for Roman, his family, and for the courageous people of his country. We begged him to keep in touch as best he could under unimaginable circumstances. On Thursday, he wrote again: “The air raid alarm is sounded between seven and ten times every day. We are huddled in the basement. We are worried about the fate of our four children. There are no safe places now.” As we watch the coverage of this senseless war online or on television from the comfort and safety of our own homes, can we possibly appreciate the fear that consumes this poor family? Can we possibly understand the destruction that is consuming Ukraine and its people?
Fear was not the only emotion expressed by our friend. Roman is justifiably angry at the Russian government and its armed forces; but also at Russian friends who have turned their backs on him and his countrymen. Through it all, however, Roman is a man of faith. He said: “We pray for our country…as we have never prayed before! We hope for the support of the whole world! We also hope for your prayers!” Another good friend, who also happens to be an iconographer, said to me: “We can only trust that God has a plan for Roman and his family.” In this spirit, we must hope and pray and trust.
Behind every headline is a family. Behind every door is a family with a unique story. Every family has hopes and dreams, pain and sorrow, anxiety and moments of real courage. Whether that family lives on Washington Street in Gloucester or huddles in a basement somewhere near Kyiv, it needs friends and neighbors to pray for peace, good health, and better days. This week, when you read or watch the news, please pray for the families behind the headlines. Pray for Roman and Oleksandra. Pray for their children. Pray for Ukraine. Most of all, pray for peace in our world.
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
A Prayer for Ukraine
“A cause for great sorrow and shame is the war taking place in Ukraine. One cannot help but feel that more could have been done and could still be done to help rescue this noble people from subjugation to a foreign power. Here is a prayer that we can all use.” — Father Paul Stonham
Holy and Gracious God,
we pray for the people of Ukraine
and the people of Russia;
for their countries and their leaders.
We pray for all who are afraid;
that your everlasting arms may hold them
during this time of great fear.
We pray for all who have the power
over life and death;
that they will choose life for all people,
and life in all its fullness.
We pray for those who choose war;
that they will remember
that you direct your people
to turn swords into ploughshares
and seek only peace.
We pray for leaders on the world stage;
that they be inspired
by the wisdom and courage of Christ.
Above all, Lord,
we pray today for peace in Ukraine;
and we ask this
in the name of your blessed Son.
Lord, have mercy. Amen.
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.
This prayer was written by Father Paul Stonham, OSB, Abbot of Belmont Abbey in Hereford, England. Founded in 1859, Belmont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the Roman Catholic tradition. The abbey church is dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, who is also a patron of Ukraine. For more information about Belmont Abbey, please visit its website: belmontabbey.org.uk.
The Synodal Way
How Does God Speak?
Synod Spiritual Exercise 1
When Pope Francis opened the Synod on Synodality last fall, he made clear that becoming a “Listening Church” is not about hearing each other complain about this or that challenge facing the local or universal Church. It is more about opening our hearts and minds to the faith experiences of our fellow parishioners, learning from those experiences, living out the lessons of our experiences, and sharing the wisdom of our experiences with others.
During the past nine years, the Holy Father has encouraged us over and over again to pray daily with the Holy Gospel. He says: “Try reading the Gospel for at least five minutes every day. You will see how it changes your life.” Those who attend Mass on a daily basis can attest to the power of the scriptures in their lives. Priests, deacons, and lay people who pray with the Liturgy of the Hours can also give witness to how praying with the psalms and scriptures can influence how they think, speak, and act throughout the day. Indeed, anyone who attends Sunday Mass, prays the Rosary, or participates in bible study programs has been touched by the beauty and challenge of God’s Word.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we take the Synodal Way very seriously. In order to better live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church, we need to listen to each other and learn from each other so that we can work together to reach out to those who do not know God or have turned away from the Church. In this spirit, we are asking our friends and fellow parishioners to engage in a series of spiritual exercises designed to give voice to how our shared faith has changed our lives.
Our first spiritual exercise is simple! How does God speak to you through the sacred scriptures? Which line, verse, or passage from scripture fills your heart and inspires your life? Pray about it. Think about it. Discern how God’s Word lives in you. Then write down your answer (including book, chapter, and verse) and drop it into the collection basket; email it to us at email@example.com; or mail to us at the following address:
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
Please share your name, contact information, and favorite scriptures with us before the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on Saturday, March 19th. If you would like your contribution to remain anonymous, please let us know. For more information about the Synodal Way, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org; or click on the link below. Thank you in advance for your prayers, discernment, and faith sharing. Let’s get to know each other! Let’s learn from each other! Let’s rebuild the Church together — always together!
Season of Lent
The Light Is On For You!
Wednesdays at 5:30pm
During the Holy Season of Lent, all Catholics are invited to experience God’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). On five consecutive Wednesdays during Lent, March 9th through April 13th, all are invited to join us for The Light Is On For You! from 5:30pm until 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. These special evenings of prayer will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass at 5:30pm; followed by Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00pm; and an hour of confessions for those who feel called to participate. For some, this may be a time for confession and sacramental reconciliation. For some, it may be a time for silent prayer and adoration. And for others, it may be a time to begin or renew the spiritual journey. Please note that there will be no confessions or adoration on Ash Wednesday, March 2nd. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Season of Lent
Way of the Cross
Fridays at 3:00pm
For more than five hundred years, the Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving traditional devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our prayers with those of the suffering Christ through both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with our Lord as he experiences the Passion of the Cross. During Lent, all are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in praying the Way of the Cross on six consecutive Friday afternoons, March 4th through April 8th, at 3:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Blessed are the Givers
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!
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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Offered for Peace in Ukraine