By Cliff Garvey
Last week, Pope Francis challenged us to open wide our hearts, our minds, and our arms to embrace all people, especially those we may find it hard to love and especially those we may find it difficult to understand. In a letter to Father James Martin, an American Jesuit, he wrote: “God is close to and loves each and every one of his children. His heart is open to all. He is the Father.“ The Holy Father then said: “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And the style of God is closeness, mercy, and tenderness. Along this path you will find God (5-9-22).”
I did not cross paths with Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) until about ten years ago when I saw some of his words (see preceding page) pinned to a bulletin board at Saint Anthony of Padua Church in Cambridge. I was immediately intrigued by, but more like drawn to, the life of a man who was an explorer, geographer, soldier, and playboy, but then became a hermit, priest, and martyr for the Gospel of Love. His journey was indirect, circuitous, and filled with ups and downs. He was a soldier called to peacemaking, a socialite called to simplicity, and a sinner called to sanctity.
After his conversion, Charles de Foucauld became a Trappist monk, but left the order because he did not find their lifestyle rigorous enough. He then lived in a shed and did odd jobs for a convent of Poor Clares until someone finally noticed his holiness and suggested that he seek ordination to the priesthood. Not long after his ordination, he retreated into the desert of North Africa to live the gospel and share it with people who had no knowledge of “this Jesus of Nazareth.”
Charles de Foucauld learned the language of the local people, shared their struggles, and became their good friend despite many differences. He wrote: “I want all people here, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and non-believers, to look on me as their brother, the universal brother. They begin to call my little house ‘the fraternity’ and this makes me happy.” More than a century after he was shot by bandits, it is unclear whether he was killed on purpose or by accident. Either way, he is venerated as a martyr because he gave his life as a complete offering of love and fraternity to Christ and to others. He once said: “Be loving, gentle, and humble with all human beings…Jesus taught us to go out like lambs among wolves.” During these difficult times, such words are compelling, heartbreaking, and all too challenging.
It seems fitting that we begin a new week with both the canonization of Saint Charles de Foucauld and the reading from the Gospel of John that calls us to prove that we are disciples by loving others — not by judging them, hating them, or excluding them from our families or communities. Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34- 35).” Saint Charles de Foucauld said: “Our hearts, like that of the Church, like that of Jesus, must embrace all humanity.” May this be our aspiration, our mission, and our prayer! Saint Charles de Foucauld, pray for us!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we give thanks for our dear friend, Jody Cole of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, who allows us to use her beautiful icons in our weekly newsletter and online. This week, we feature a detail from Jody’s icon of the Charles de Foucauld. For more information about Jody and her work, visit jcoleicons.com. Happy Easter! Peace and blessings! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
Saint Charles de Foucauld
THIS JESUS OF NAZARETH
Read the Holy Gospel without ceasing
so as to always have before one’s mind
the actions, words, and thoughts of Jesus
in order to think, speak, and act like Jesus.
I have lost my heart
to this Jesus of Nazareth,
crucified 1900 years ago.
I have spent my life trying to imitate him
as my weakness allows.
A PRAYER OF ABANDONMENT
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures,
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands, I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself
into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. Amen.
The Way for Kids
Sacramental Preparation for Older Kids
Begins Saturday, May 21st
If your child, grandchild, or godchild has completed the second grade but has not received the Sacraments of Baptism and-or First Holy Communion, we have a special program just for them! It’s called The Way for Kids!
Beginning on Saturday, May 21st from 4:00pm until 5:45pm in Our Lady’s School, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead a four-week series of workshops for young disciples who have not received the first two Sacraments of Initiation. After each workshop, the children and their families are invited to attend our 6:00pm Mass.
For more information about The Way for Kids and other ways that your children can learn about the faith and be involved in the life and work of our parishes, please see Father Jim or contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. God bless our young disciples!
Ascension of the Lord
A Holy Day of Obligation
Thursday, May 26th
On Thursday, May 26th, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, which commemorates Christ’s elevation into heaven in the presence of the disciples on the fortieth day after his resurrection. On this Holy Day of Obligation, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Holy Mass according to the following schedule:
- Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am
- Saint Ann Church at 12:00pm
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 5:30pm
As we continue our spiritual journey through the Season of Easter and prepare for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, let us join together as a family of disciples and pray in the words of Saint Augustine:
Look upon us, Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
disappear before the beams
of your divine light.
Fill us with your holy love,
and open to us
the treasures of your wisdom.
We seek your holy face,
turn toward us now
and show us your glory.
Then our longing will be satisfied
and our peace
will be complete. Amen.
For more information about the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, please visit our website or contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Saturday, May 27th
All friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join the Holy Family Women’s Guild for a Spring Marketplace on Saturday, May 28th from 9:00am until 1:00pm at Saint Ann Church. This outdoor market will feature baked goods, outdoor plants, florals made by our members, and pre-ordered cemetery baskets.
Working with Cressey & Sons Nursery in Rowley, the Guild is now accepting pre-orders for Memorial Day Cemetery Baskets for $28 each; and 10” Hanging Baskets of Mixed Petunias for $25 each. If you would like to place an order for a basket, please contact Jane Marshall at 978-283-5111 or Celia Gray at 978-281-2072.
All basket orders must be placed in advance on or before Monday, May 23rd; and all baskets can be picked up at the Spring Marketplace. For more information about the Holy Family Women’s Guild, please contact Arlene Lesch at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome! Thank you!
The Assisi Project
We’re Praying for You!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We are dedicated to helping believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ through the intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Members of the Assisi Project, ranging in age from 13 to 97, pray every day for those who ask for our prayers. If you would like our fellowship to pray for your or your special intention, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
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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In Memory of Millard Solomon