By Father Jim
As a priest and pastor, I am called to consecrate the simple gifts of bread and wine that become the spiritual food that strengthens us, sustains us, and serves as the source and summit of our shared faith. I am called to celebrate with you during the baptisms and weddings of your children, grandchildren, and godchildren. I am called to absolve your sins and shortcomings in the sacred privacy of the confessional. I am called to anoint you with the oil of God’s love and mercy when you are sick. And I am called to mourn with you and your family during moments of grief and despair.
During those dark times, when death knocks at your family’s door, I am sometimes able to console you with a sympathetic word or heartfelt embrace. Sometimes we talk about a long life well-lived, about grandchildren and great-grandchildren, about jobs and hobbies, or about fond memories of once-in-a-lifetime journeys to the far corners of the world. But sometimes, in the face of an unimaginable tragedy, words fail and condolences fall short of mending broken hearts. Sometimes there are no words and no answers. Sometimes there is only the smallest glimmer of hope that time will somehow ease the pain of the sudden death of a child, close friend, or loved one.
Over the years, I have been called upon to preside over the funerals of men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds. Among the saddest funerals of all are for young adults with bright futures who die suddenly. For those left behind, the demand for answers is urgent, but the answers themselves are almost always elusive and they almost never bring solace. So what can we say to grieving parents, grandparents, and siblings? What can we say when someone we love becomes lost, unable to cope, and somehow reaches the point where the final solution is the only solution to life’s problems? What can we do when lives seem broken beyond repair? What can we do when death and disaster visit our family or our community? What can we say or do in the face of unspeakable sorrow?
After long hours of prayer and reflection, my only answer is to lean in and do good. Lean into the light of hope that comes with every sunrise. Lean into the arms of family, friends, and fellow parishioners. Lean into the arms of Our Father in Heaven who is ever-present even when all seems lost here on earth. Lean into the embrace of the Crucified Christ who opens wide his arms to enfold all who mourn, all who weep, and all who seek to understand an unthinkable loss. Lean into the love that transcends the tomb and rises from death.
During such times, we can also do something good. This weekend, we offer again our deepest thanks to Joe and Joanne Grella, their family, and their many friends for gifts in memory of SPC Michael Grella who died suddenly on March 9, 2018. Their generosity enabled our parish to repair and restore the Large Rose Window that gives light and life to Saint Ann Church; and it enabled us to commission the beautiful icon of Saint Michael the Archangel that keeps loving watch over all of us from the high altar of our beloved church. From the depths of their grief, Mike’s family and friends leaned in and found the strength to do something good, true, and beautiful. In this way, they share with us a living witness and lasting voice to Mike’s dream of serving his community. May God bless Michael Grella and console all who love and miss him. Peace, blessings, and sincere thanks to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: We are deeply grateful to our friend, Jody Cole, for creating the icon of Saint Michael the Archangel that appears this week on our website, on the cover of our weekly newsletter, and always on the high altar of Saint Ann Church. You can learn more about Jody and her amazing work at jcoleicons.com.
Calling Young Disciples
Halloween Faith & Family Mass
Sunday, October 30th
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” In response to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, and children of all ages are invited to join Father Jim for our first-ever Halloween Faith & Family Mass on Sunday, October 30th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
Halloween is often described as a pagan holiday, but this is contrary to its true meaning and authentic origins. The word hallow actually means holy. All Hallows Eve is really a Catholic holiday with roots in both celebrating the lives of the saints and praying for the souls of our departed brothers and sisters.
At sunset on October 31st, the Catholic Church begins its celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. So from the Vigil of All Saints on October 31st, through the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1st and the Commemoration of All Souls on November 2nd, God’s family prays with the saints and we pray for the souls of our loved ones.
Over the years, French, Irish, and English immigrants brought a variety of local Catholic customs to the United States. Dressing up in costumes for Halloween comes from France. Jack-O-Lanterns are from Ireland, where the faithful originally carved turnips, not pumpkins. And the tradition of going from door to door begging for sweets and treats was born in England, where children were given “soul cakes” in exchange for the promise to pray for the souls of departed loved ones. Eventually, these traditions came together in the American Melting Pot and became part of almost every family’s Halloween tradition.
Now it’s our turn to create a new tradition! On Sunday, October 30th at 11:45am, we will celebrate Holy Mass in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, all are welcome to join us outside on the church lawn where our pastoral team, parish groups, and parish service organizations will offer treats to the kids! Parents and children are invited to wear costumes!
If celebrated with hearts filled with faith, Halloween can be a enjoyable and wholesome experience for your family and our entire community! It offers us an amazing opportunity to teach our children about the realities of good and evil, light and darkness, and the ultimate triumph of God’s love and mercy in our world! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark your calendar! Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Solemnity of All Saints
A Holy Day of Obligation
Tuesday, November 1st
Since late antiquity, the People of God have honored the holy men and women who have been canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church. The Solemnity of All Saints honors all saints, known and unknown, who have gone before us in faith, hope, and love; and who now pray for us and for the salvation of souls. In commemoration of this Holy Day of Obligation, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate three Masses:
- All Saints Day Mass – Tuesday, November 1st
Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am
Saint Ann Church at 12:00pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 6:30pm
For more information about the Solemnity of All Saints in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring a friend! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Month of All Souls
Masses of Remembrance
All are invited to join us for the celebration of Holy Mass on the Commemoration of All Souls, Wednesday, November 2nd, at 5:30pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During November, the Month of All Souls, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will also celebrate three Masses of Remembrance for friends, families, and fellow parishioners whose funerals were celebrated in our parishes during the past year:
- Mass of Remembrance I
Saturday, November 5th at 4:00pm
Saint Ann Church
- Mass of Remembrance II
Sunday, November 13th at 11:45am
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
- Mass of Remembrance III
Sunday, November 20th at 10:00am
Saint Joachim Church
For more information about the Month of All Souls in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Bring a friend! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
My God & My All!
A Course on Discipleship
Saturday, November 5th
Saint Francis of Assisi teaches us that discipleship is not just about the gift of faith. It’s not just about coming to church or memorizing a catechism. It’s really all about loving God and loving neighbor. It’s about meeting Christ in prayer and in the people we meet along life’s journey. It’s about joy and suffering, communion and fraternity, prayer and action. It’s ultimately about living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church.
About discipleship, Pope Francis says: “It is about living close to Jesus…It is about embodying the Gospel in everyday life. It is a fire that starts another fire.” It is no accident that the Holy Spirit gave us a pope who chose the name “Francis” and calls us back to the basics of prayer, good works, and a more simple way of life.
In this spirit, all are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff for My God & My All!: A Course on Discipleship. Over the course of the next several months, you and your family can complete the course online or in-person. First, you can attend upcoming gatherings of the Assisi Project on Saturday, November 5th; Saturday, December 3rd; and Saturday, January 7th. Each session begins with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, followed by a reflection, faith sharing, and the rosary. We will conclude our meetings by 10:00am.
You can also join us on four consecutive evenings next spring: Tuesday, April 25th through Friday, April 28th at Saint Anthony Chapel beginning with Evening Prayer at 6:30pm; followed by a reflection, faith sharing, and the rosary. Each session will conclude by 8:00pm. Please keep in mind that even though this is a four-part course, each session stands alone. So please join us for one or all sessions of the course! In adddition, podcasts of each reflection will be available soon at assisiproject.com!
A donation of $25 is requested from those who can afford it. All participants will be provided with a copy of The Simple Way: Meditations on the Words of Saint Francis by Father Murray Bodo, OFM. For more information, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Save the dates! Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Christmas Fair & Marketplace
Saturday, November 19th
All are invited to join the Holy Family Women’s Guild for our Annual Christmas Fair & Marketplace on Saturday, November 19th from 9:00am until 2:00pm at Saint Ann Church. It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year! So mark your calendar! Save the date! Please spread the word! Bring your family and friends!
In order to make this year’s fair our best ever, the Guild is calling for volunteers to help set up, work the tables, and clean up that Saturday morning. The Guild is also asking for donations from local artists, crafters, and knitters, along with donations of fresh evergreens like spruce, pine, pine cones, and holly. If you are able to help out, please call Arlene Lesch at 978-491-7543.
Established in 2005, the Holy Family Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages in prayer, fellowship, and service to our parish and the wider community. Throughout the year, the Guild sponsors various fundraising events and social gatherings, including the Christmas Fair — our largest fundraiser of the year! New members and volunteers are always welcome! For more information, please contact Arlene Lesch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Christmas Fair & Marketplace
Cemetery Baskets & Kissing Balls
Mark your calendar! Save the date! The Holy Family Women’s Guild is hard at work with preparations for our Annual Christmas Fair & Marketplace on Saturday, November 19th from 9:00am until 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church! In this spirit, the Guild is working with Cressey & Sons in Rowley to Holiday Cemetery Baskets and Christmas Kissing Balls! The log-shaped baskets are $30 each and decorated fifteen-inch kissing balls are $35 each. Orders will be accepted until Monday, November 14th by calling Cecelia Gray at 978-281-2072.
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
No one becomes poor by giving. — Anne Frank
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 Ron Ross