Our Pastor’s Message
A Time for Prudence
Tentative Re-Opening: Sunday, July 26th
By Father Jim
Prudence is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (along with faith, fortitude, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and wonder at God’s living presence in the world). It is also one of the Four Cardinal Virtues (along with fortitude, justice, and temperance). Prudence is defined as the quality of being cautious; as acting with great care and concern for the future. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the virtue of prudence helps us to act with wisdom. It requires us to take counsel; consider options that point toward what is good and right; make wise decisions; and implement those decisions with diligence and empathy. Saint Thomas calls prudence “right reason in action.”
By now, you know me well enough to know that I do not think of myself as being a particularly prudent person. My natural impulse is to forge ahead, plan on the fly, and adapt as we move along. But now is not the time for instinct. Too much is at stake. Lives are at stake. The future of our parishes and all that we have worked toward during the past six years hangs in the balance. Now is the time for caution. Now is the time for prudence. Now is the time for right reason in action.
As you know, Cardinal Sean has asked every pastor to develop a plan for a cautious and limited re-opening of our churches. Before any church can open for public prayer and worship, each plan must be personally approved by our regional bishop. Last weekend, I met for the fourth time with a working group of parishioners and pastoral team members that is helping me to develop a plan to re-open Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church on a very limited basis. While every member of this group appreciates the desire to resume the public celebration of Holy Mass, we are united in our deep concern for the health, safety, and well-being of our friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners in Gloucester and Rockport.
It is worth repeating once again that we should be mindful of the unique character of our communities. While many parishes slow down during the summer months, our churches typically experience a sizeable increase in the number of people who worship with us. This requires us to effectively communicate our re-opening plan with both year-round residents and summer visitors. Another serious challenge is church capacity. Archdiocesan and state government regulations strictly limit seating to 40% of overall capacity in each church. At the same time, these regulations also require at least six feet of social distance at all times. This latter requirement will make it nearly impossible for us to accommodate everyone who wants to join us for Mass.
In order to fully comply with the social distancing requirement, we can seat only 28 parishioners in Saint Joachim Church, 28 parishioners in Saint Anthony Chapel, 36 parishioners in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, and 56 parishioners in Saint Ann Church. In addition, each church must be thoroughly cleaned after every moment of public worship: funeral services, baptism and wedding ceremonies, and all celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. This includes cleaning bathrooms, entrances, worship spaces, sacristies, sanctuaries, and every surface that someone might touch.
In order to attend any public celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all parishioners will be required to reserve an assigned seat via an easy-to-use online reservation system. For parishioners who do not have access to a computer or the internet, some seats will be reserved for registration by telephone. Every parishioner who successfully registers will receive a confirmation message via email or telephone. And it is important to keep in mind that for safety reasons, we cannot welcome anyone into our churches unless they participate in this registration process. It is our plan to test this system over the course of the next few weeks, further customize the system for our parishes, and re-open our churches for public worship on Sunday, July 26th.
Please keep in mind that this date is tentative and could change based on guidance from the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Under these circumstances, our Daily Mass Schedule (along with all other parish programs and minis- tries) will remain suspended. Our parish office will also remain closed for the time being, but pastoral assistance is always available by e-mail or telephone. Beginning on Wednesday, July 29th, the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) will be available by appointment only. More information will be available soon about baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But for the foreseeable future, our Sunday Mass Schedule will be reduced to the following celebrations:
- Vigil Mass (Celebrated Privately & Posted Online)
- Sunday at 8:15am in Saint Ann Church
- Sunday at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church
- Sunday at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Other important factors worth repeating are that the new safety measures will change the ways we enter and exit our churches; where we sit; how we reach those seats; how we worship; and how we receive Holy Communion. In accordance with Cardinal Sean’s guidelines, everyone who enters our churches must wear a mask; maintain a safe social distance at all times; and receive Holy Communion in their hands. Missalettes will be removed from all churches, but parishioners are invited to bring their own personal worship aids. There will be no instrumental music or communal singing at any of these public Masses. And in an effort to reduce the risks associated with public worship, we are now required to take the temperature of every person who enters our churches (using a touch-free thermometer). Needless to say, your patience, cooperation, and support are need now more than ever!
As I have shared with you before, I fully appreciate that some parishes have opened more quickly than us. It is not my place to second guess the decisions and practices of other pastors and parishes. My singular focus must remain on how Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish can respond to this crisis and how we can do whatever we can with limited resources to keep each other safe and well. This is a time for patience, prayer, and prudence. The coming weeks and months will test our bonds of prayer, fellowship, and service. They will challenge us to consider new ways to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. But always working together as humble servants in the Lord’s vineyard, we can do anything! Ever together! Peace, blessings, and sincere thanks to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Support Our Parishes!
Our fiscal year ended on June 30th! We need your help now more than ever! Your weekly gifts are essential to the financial health and well-being of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our parishes depend solely on the generosity of our fellow parishioners to pay bills, make ends meet, and help to ensure the financial stability of our parishes communities. All friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are encouraged to mail their offering or to give electronically. Our mailing address is 74 Prospect Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. In addition, our We Share program is a safe and easy way to make donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Put simply, we need your help now more than ever! For more information about how to support our parishes during these challenging times, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you and your family! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
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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