By Cliff Garvey
On a bleak midwinter day in 1653, a young woman called Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) boarded a ship with one hundred other passengers that set sail from France to Canada. At the invitation of the Governor of the French settlement that would become Montreal, Marguerite undertook this long and arduous journey to start a school for poor children.
Four years later, Marguerite opened that school in a vacant stone building. The so-called “stable school” served as the model for Montreal’s first public school system. She also organized the building of the community’s first church, a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Help. And she founded the Congregation of Notre Dame, a religious order of women who taught, ministered to the poor, and lived not in a convent but among the local people.
At the time, Sister Marguerite’s vision for her order was a radical one. Almost all other religious orders for women were required by both custom and canon law to be cloistered. However, she had impressed both King Louis XIV of France and Bishop Francois de Laval of Quebec, who offered their support for this unique, but effective community.
Late in life, Sister Marguerite walked from Montreal to Quebec, a distance of 158 miles, to establish another community of women educators at the request of the local bishop. By the time Sister Marguerite passed from this life in 1700, she was being called the “Mother of Canada.” Soon after her death, a local priest reportedly said: “If saints were canonized as in the past by the voice of the local people and clergy, then tomorrow we would be celebrating the Mass of Saint Marguerite of Canada.” In reality, however, Saint Marguerite was not canonized until 1982. She is venerated now as a patron of orphans, the poor, and those rejected by religious orders.
Prayer and teaching were the passions of her life and the foundation of her order. About prayer, Saint Marguerite said: “It seems to me that we do not pay enough attention to prayer, for unless it arises from the heart which ought to be its center, it is no more than fruitless dreaming. Prayer ought to carry over into our thoughts, our words, and our actions.” Indeed, she was so dedicated in her devotion that when the first chapel of Our Lady of Good Help burned down, tradition holds that her prayers alone saved her reliquary and the statue of the Blessed Mother.
As for teaching, Saint Marguerite once wrote: “Teaching is the work most suited to draw down the graces of God if it is done with purity of intention, without distinction between the poor and the rich, between relatives and friends and strangers, between the pretty and the ugly, the gentle and the grumblers, looking upon them all as drops of the Lord’s blood.” It is this spirit of kindness and generosity that has attracted generations of believers to venerate her relics and beg for her prayers. Saint Marguerite was the rare person who could look beyond differences and see the common bonds of humanity in all of God’s children.
Nowadays, when it sometimes seems so difficult to find goodness in the world, we need look no further than the life and legacy of a dedicated teacher and courageous woman of faith. By the light of her holiness, we can see more clearly how the Lord lives and works among us, and we can cry out with grateful and yearning hearts: Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, Mother of Canada, pray for us and for our children!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
A Prayer to Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
Feast Day – January 12th
To you, Saint Marguerite,
we turn in our great need.
You responded with compassion
to the needs of those around you.
Look now on our needs
and on the needs of all persons
who are sick or in distress
and grant us your comfort and strength.
offer our poor prayers
to Our Lady of Good Help
so that through her intercession with Jesus, her Son,
we may obtain the grace
we so desperately need.
help us to conform our will to God’s will,
so that like you, we may give thanks
during times of distress
as well as in moments of joy.
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.
Epiphany of the Lord
Youth Christmas Pageant
Saturday, January 7th
Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Season of Christmas from December 25th through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 9th. During Christmastime, we commemorate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Choir of Angels praising God in heaven, the Call of the Shepherds, and the Adoration of the Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
As a special part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s celebration of the Christmas Season, we invite children from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to participate in our Youth Christmas Pageant on Saturday, January 7th at the 4:00pm Vigil Mass in Saint Ann Church.
This dramatization of the Nativity of the Lord depends on the participation of young angels and shepherds, along with those children interested in portraying the Magi and the Holy Family. Being a part of this favorite holiday tradition is an excellent way for our children and grandchildren to be a part of the life of their home parish and learn about the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.
If your child, grandchild, or godchild would like to participate in this year’s Youth Christmas Pageant, please con- tact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word! Bring your family! Bring your friends! All are invited! All are welcome! Blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Knights of Columbus
Tuesday, January 10th
The Knights of Columbus (Council 215) is a fraternal and charitable organization of Catholic men that serves the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Since 1897, our council has sponsored countless acts of charity on Cape Ann, including annual events like our blood drive, food drive, golf tournament, Coats for Kids, and our ongoing support for the Holy Family Women’s Guild and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
If you have just twenty-four hours to volunteer for charity during the coming year, we can transform that commitment of time into meaningful results for you, your family, and our community. Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10th at 7:00pm in the parish office (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester). For more information about the Knights of Columbus and its good work in our parishes, please contact Mark Natti at email@example.com or visit our website at the link below. New members are always welcome! Please join us!
Youth Faith Formation
Celebration of First Penance
Saturday, January 14th
As the new year begins, sixty-two of our young disciples from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are preparing for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. On Saturday, January 14th at 9:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, these young fellow parishioners will continue their preparations by participating in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) for the very first time.
The Celebration of First Penance is an important mile- stone on every child’s journey of faith. It teaches them (and reminds all of us) about conscience, humility, forgiveness, and God’s boundless gifts of love and mercy for every person. As preparations for First Holy Communion continue, please pray for all of our students and their families, for all of our catechists and volunteers, and for our priests and pastoral team members.
For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. All fellow parishioners are reminded confessions are heard every Wednesday evening beginning from 6:00pm until 6:45pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church (or by appointment). For more information about the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation, please see our Guide to Making a Good Confession (see link below). Peace and blessings to all! Happy New Year!
The Assisi Project
Our Daily Prayers
Each day, members of the Assisi Project are called to pray for the Church and for the needs of others. Among our daily prayers is this beautiful prayer for the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi by Saint John Paul II.
O Saint Francis,
who received the wounds of Christ
at Mount La Verna,
the world longs for you,
that icon of our crucified Lord.
It has need of your heart,
open always to God and to others;
of your bare, wounded feet,
of your pierced hands raised in supplication.
It longs for your voice so frail
yet forceful with the power of the Gospel.
O Saint Francis,
help the people of our age
to recognize the evil of sin
and to seek purification from it in penance.
Help us to become free
from the structures of sin that oppress our world.
Rekindle in the consciences of those in government
an urgent need for peace between nations and peoples.
Instill in our young people your freshness of life,
that is so capable of withstanding
the snares of the culture of death.
O Saint Francis,
teach those injured by every type of evil
the joys of being able to forgive.
Teach those crucified by suffering, hunger, and war
the joys of reopening the doors of hope. Amen.
All are invited to join the Assisi Project for Our Daily Prayers, Franciscan Night Prayer, and the Franciscan Rosary by praying along with our podcasts. Check out the link below! For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com.
Winter Weather Advisory
For the latest information about weather related cancelations during the winter months, please visit our website: ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made via wcvb.com, cbsboston.com, and WBZ1030-AM. All fellow parishioners are reminded that if public schools are closed due to inclement weather on a particular day, then our Weekday Mass and all parish programs (including adult and youth faith formation programs) are canceled, too. Peace and blessings for a Happy New Year! Keep warm! Stay safe!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Whoever sows generously will reap generously (2 Cor 6).
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!
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 Carlton Geary