Snowstorms, Frozen Pipes, and Helping Those in Need!!

Snowstorms, Frozen Pipes, and Helping Those in Need!!

Dear Parishioners:                                

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I hope you survived the Blizzard of 2018! I think it was a blizzard even though the news media hyped it as a “Bomb-Cyclone”!  A much scarier moniker than Blizzard for sure.  I think I’ll stick with tradition and just call it the Blizzard of 2018!       

Our great OLM Maintenance crew was working in overdrive during the storm and the cold weather.  Plowing, shoveling, and sanding the sidewalks and parking lots to ensure safe passage to and from Church and School.  We thank them for their hard work and the tremendous job they did with the snow removal.

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We  didn’t escape the cold weather unscathed as we had a pipe freeze in the school.  Fortunately it didn’t cause too much damage and the clean up has taken place.  It was an old pipe left over from the addition to the school over twenty years ago.  It froze toward the end of the school day and then burst. This set off the fire alarm and caused the school to be evacuated and the fire department to rush here. This was the afternoon before the Blizzard when the temperatures were dropping quickly!

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Thankfully this pipe was located just outside the gym and did not cause any serious damage to the gym floor. The OLM Maintenance team were able to turn off the water and stop the flooding in good time.  Our friends, the GemmaBrothers from Gem Plumbing, were on the scene in no time and capped off the pipe. And thanks to OLM Parishioner, Frank Mattos, and his crack team from ServPro, the area was cleaned up, scrubbed and disinfected before Sunday!  Sadly for the school children we were forced to close school for two days!

Now let’s hope the weather  warms up and we can just worry about regular snowstorms not Bomb Cyclones and sub-zero temperatures. Of  course all this cold weather and snow should also cause us to be mindful of those who have no heat.  Therefore, we once again  are supporting Bishop Tobin’s Keep the Heat On Fund.  Donations to the OLM Outreach in late January and early February  go to support  this great work of helping those who need a hand in keeping their heat on. 

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Your tremendous charity to OLM Outreach during December enabled us to help some local charities over the Christmas Season.  We donated $1000 to Emmanuel Homeless Shelter, McAuley House, Whitmarsh House for Troubled Youth and Mary’s House Meal Kitchen and Food Pantry at St. Patrick’s Church in Providence. We also helped RI Right to Life Services with a $1000 donation for their good work with mothers in a crisis pregnancy.  None of this is possible without your support and generosity.  In the name of the poor and needy who you’ve helped, I thank you.

OLM Outreach also provided gifts, food and help with bills to several area families at Christmas.  In addition, we were able to support several refugee families with donations of warm clothing and Christmas gifts. Again I thank you for your continued support of OLM Outreach and the  mission of mercy and good works at OLM.

In his homily during last weekend’s Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis reminds us about giving:

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To give freely, for the Lord’s sake, without expecting anything in return: this is the sure sign that we have found Jesus. To do good without counting the cost, even when unasked, even when you gain nothing thereby, even if it is unpleasant. That is what God wants. He, who become small for our sake, asks us to offer something for the least of his brothers and sisters. Who are they? They are those who have nothing to give in return, the needy, the hungry, the stranger, the prisoner, the poor (cf. Mt 25:31-46). We give a gift pleasing to Jesus when we care for a sick person, spend time with a difficult person, help someone for the sake of helping, or forgive someone who has hurt us. These are gifts freely given, and they cannot be lacking in the lives of Christians.”

Fr. Connors returns to Rome this week to resume his doctoral studies.  Over the next few months he is finishing up his dissertation and is to  publicly defends it on June 1st.  We are grateful for his presence and ministry at OLM over these last few weeks.  It is always a joy to have him at OLM and enjoy his priestly fraternity.  Keep him in your prayers as he resumes his studies.

Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats, Go!!!

 

Ephiphany Arrives, Christmas Departs and We Call Upon the Saints

Ephiphany Arrives, Christmas Departs and We Call Upon the Saints

Dear Parishioners:                                

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With this Sunday’s celebration of the feast of the Epiphany, the Christmas Season draws to a close.  “The Twelve Days of Christmas" culminate with the Epiphany of the Lord, referring to the visitation of the Three Kings or Adoration of the  Magi, celebrated on January 6.  On Monday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord and then it’s back to Ordinary Time with its green vestments.

In a homily on the Epiphany, Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, teaches: “Jesus is not one philosopher or sage or political figure among many. He’s not just another wise religious teacher. Rather, he is the Word made flesh – Logos, in John’s language. That means the divine mind; the great pattern; the intelligibility through which all things were created, toward which all minds are tending.”

The beauty of Christmas reflects this profound revelation: the Son of God became a man that all men might become more like God. God became human, and nothing human was alien to him but sin. Even our greatest suffering, darkness, and doubt draws us closer to him through Calvary. There’s nothing new under the sun, but by His life, death, andresurrection, the Son made all things new. And our celebration of Epiphany  recalls the manifestation of that truth.  This manifestation made – and still makes – all the difference in the world.

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The star that guided the Magi still shines in the Gospel, which continues to guide us along our pilgrim way. The Church, and every person of faith, has been entrusted with that same light and we are called to carry that light into the dark places of the world in our prayer, words and acts of charity.

This past Tuesday I attended the opening of the RI General Assembly as another legislative session begins.  This means that I am once again heading to Smith Hill during the week to advocate on behalf of Catholic values and virtues.  This requires my presence at the RI Statehouse during afternoons and sometimes later in the evening for hearings. We hope and pray that the new legislative session might truly be productive for our state and that nothing contrary to  Catholic teaching on human life, human dignity and the common good are able to advance and become law. 

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However, issues such as the wide scale expansion of abortion rights including public financing  and also the legalization of physician assisted suicide are once again being vigorously supported by anti-life extremists and their many allies in the statehouse.  These anti-life forces are well organized and well funded. Along with these important fundamental issues of human life and dignity.  The Church is always vigilant in our advocacy of those issues concerning the rights of Catholic School Families, support for traditional family life, refugee services and immigration reform. 

With a projected huge state budget deficit  the issues of poverty and the social safety net for the vulnerable are also of concern. So I ask for your prayers for my  lobbying and advocacy  on behalf of  the RI Catholic Conference. Also please pray for all our elected officials that they may truly serve the common good of our state, work to protect all human life and  always truly respect human dignity.

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If you have visited  our candle room then you have seen the  new statues.  We are deeply grateful to the Manocchia Family for their generous donation of a beautiful statue of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in memory of their late Mother, Matilda.  St. Teresa of Calcutta is the patron saint of the poor and also of doubters.

Also there are two older statues now in the candle room that are new to OLM.  They come to us from the now closed St. Casimir Church in Providence.  We were able to get  these beautiful statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Sorrows for OLM at no cost.  They now have a new home in our Church after decades inspiring the faithful of St. Casimir’s.

So make a visit to the candle room, light a candle and  turn to Our Lady and the Saints for  their powerful intercession for your needs and intentions. All the candles that light up our candle room and the Our Lady of Mercy Shrine in Church,represent the many prayers we offer to God. It’s always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!

Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!

 

Christmas Blessings as We Await the New Year

Christmas Blessings as We Await the New Year

Dear Parishioners:                                

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We are still in the midst of the Christmas Season and so we continue to celebrate our Savior’s birth.  Our celebration began last weekend with the Christmas Vigil Mass on Sunday evening.  It was a grand kickoff to the solemn and joyful celebration of the season.

We give thanks for the gift of God’s Son born on Christmas.  Jesus Christ is our Messiah, our Redeemer and our Savior and so we continue to rejoice and give thanks for His birth. We continue to give thanks  to God for the blessings of Christmas. We give thanks to  those who made Christmas at OLM so joyful, beautiful and memorable. 

We thank our hard working maintenance staff under the direction of Paul Anderson who have been working for weeks moving boxes, painting, raking, setting up trees, cleaning, waxing floors and seeing to the good order of our vast physical plant.  Of course, they also took time out during the snowstorms to shovel and plow  the property! 

We thank them for their tireless work and dedication to OLM. We give thanks to Celia Franzone and her band of decorators who made the Church so beautiful at Christmas with the flowers and trees.  They ensured that our Church nativity was once again a beautiful and prayerful stop for us.  I am grateful for all their hard work in making the beauty of Christmas a vital part of OLM.

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We thank too our talented parish musicians, Henri St. Louis and Deirdre Donovan, and the OLM Adult and Children Choirs for their great gift of music. The music was so joyful at Christmas and we are grateful for the hours of rehearsals and devotion they give to ensuring beautiful and meaningful sacred music befitting the solemn celebration of our Savior’s birth. We thank our loyal and dutiful corps of   OLM Altar Servers for their help and devotion at Christmas Masses.  Their expert service to God’s Altar was solemn and reverent and we are truly grateful to them. 

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We also thank our OLM Ushers who worked so diligently and did double time last weekend.  Their warm hospitality to guests is truly appreciated.  We wish to thank our Lectors for joyfully proclaiming God’s Sacred Word at Christmas. Also our many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who helped at Christmas Masses  ensuring the faithful received the Body of Christ with reverence. 

We thank all who gave of their time and talent to make Christmas at OLM so solemn, joyful and faith-filled. I also wish to thank the many parishioners and OLM  School students and families who were so generous to supporting the good works of OLM Outreach.  They  generously adopted refugee families, collected gifts for the elderly
residents of the Jeanne Jugan Residence, and provided a Christmas for many needy families.  Your many donations of gift cards and generous monetary gifts ensure that Christmas is joyful for many people in need. We thank you for your charity and continued support of OLM Outreach.

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I wish also to thank Fr. Barrow, Fr. Connors and Deacon Dowd for their presence and ministry here at OLM especially at Christmas.  We are truly blessed at OLM with such talented and dedicated young priests and such a devoted and joyful Deacon.   Also in their names, I wish to thank the many parishioners who were so kind and very generous to us at Christmas.  Your gifts, cards, sincere greetings, and delicious goodies are truly appreciated and enjoyed by us all. We are grateful for your continued  support and recognition of our ministry at OLM.

The New Year of 2018 begins Monday and now we look back and give God thanks for the blessings we enjoyed in 2017.  On January 1st we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  Since it falls on a Monday this year it is not a holy day of obligation and therefore there is only one Mass at 8:30am.  It is a holiday but not a holy day and you are not obligated to attend Holy Mass.

As we approach the New Year of 2018, I wish you and your families the choicest of God’s blessings for a Happy, Healthy and Holy New Year.  May our Loving Father bless you and your family at the turning of the year and fill the months ahead with the bright hope and bountiful joy that is ours in the coming of Christ.

A very Happy New Year. Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!

 

A Happy and Holy Christmas to All!

A Happy and Holy Christmas to All!

Dear Parishioners:                          

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The Season of Advent draws to a close very quickly this weekend as Christmas is on  Monday. The name Advent itself means “the coming” of the Lord and of nothing less than our Lord and Savior.  The very last line of the Bible cries out, “Come Lord Jesus!” The Lord wants us to anticipate nothing less than Himself.

As we approach Christmas with joy and faith and the days of our expectation, preparation, and  anticipation end, we might ask ourselves on what are we waiting for?  Yes, we await the feast of our faith with the celebration of Christmas.  But more importantly we wait for Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. We wait for His grace and mercy that surely comes into our lives.  We wait for Him to answer our prayers, sure  that He will, but unsure when, where, or how.  We wait for reasons to explain and understand suffering, struggle, and worries. We wait for Him to call us to be with Him for all eternity.

And, lest we forget, the Lord  Jesus waits for us!  Yes Jesus waits for us to open up to His grace and mercy.  Jesus waits for us to admit that, as a matter of fact, we do need a Savior!  Jesus waits for us to admit that He is the answer to the questions our lives of searching pose.  Jesus waits for our ultimate return to Him, for He “has gone to prepare a place for us.”  

So on Christmas Eve we might ask ourselves, indeed what are we waiting for? But in reality our question should be, who have we been preparing to welcome this Holy Night? The Advent hymn
reminds of the one for whom we wait. It’s lyrics read: “
Dear Savior, haste! Come, come to earth. Dispel the night and show your face, and bid us hail the dawn of grace.  O come, Divine Messiah, the world in silence waits the day when hope shall sing its triumph, and sadness flee away!”

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Yes, the Divine Messiah comes! In our waiting is the very arrival and deep down inside, cradled in our soul, where no one but the One who truly counts can detect, is again an empty manger where the Son of God wants to be re-born. So let us loudly acclaim “Come, Lord Jesus!” “Come Lord Jesus” into our lives and into our homes.  “Come Lord Jesus” into our often cold and dark world! St. Augustine said: “What greater cause is there of the Lord’s coming than to show God’s love for us?”

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On Christmas, the great feast of the Incarnation, we celebrate God’s love for us. With joy we celebrate the coming of our Messiah who dispelled the darkness of the world. With faith we welcome the Light of Christ that pierces the darkness of sin and sadness  of our world and  our lives.  Yes, there are dark things wrong with our world, but the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity  is even greater for that, since the Divine Light has come from Heaven, and “the darkness has never overcome it.”

The Incarnation of Christ is a central mystery of our Catholic faith. As the Advent Season quickly ends and the Feast of the Incarnation soon arrives, let us prayerfully meditate upon our God who humbled Himself to become one of us. Only then are we truly  blessed to see how the humble and tender Christ Child born in a manger pulls us away from darkness and  draws us into the light of His goodness, peace and love. For on Christmas we celebrate the reality that Jesus Christ, the God made Man, is truly real, present, and good! May He be ever more so to you and yours this Christmas. 

In the name of Fr. Barrow, Fr. Connors, Deacon Dowd and myself, I offer our  best wishes to all parishioners for a Holy Christmas Season. Be assured of our remembrance for you and your families  as we offer Holy Mass on Christmas.

I extend Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Christmas Blessing to you and to all: “May each Christmas, as it comes, find us more and more like Him who at this time became a little child, for our sake; more simple-minded, more humble, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God.”

Merry Christmas!

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"Joy is the Infallible Sign of the Presence of God!"

"Joy is the Infallible Sign of the Presence of God!"

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Dear Parishioners:
"Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God,” so said the French Jesuit, Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday.  It is a time that the Church calls us to rejoice and celebrate God’s presence even in the midst of  this Advent Season of  waiting.

This third Sunday of Advent is all about joy in the midst of darkness. As we wait  the coming of Christ, we light a cheerful rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath as a reminder that our waiting is not in vain. The Sunday gets its name -- "gaudete," which means "rejoice" -- from the introit to to day's Mass: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,
rejoice
."

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These words come from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, which he wrote from prison. St. Paul was no naïve optimist, and he obviously knew real suffering. Despite the intense suffering of his imprisonment, St. Paul was joyful.  Joy appears 17 times in various forms throughout the short letter.

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Gaudete" is the word's imperative form. We are commanded to rejoice against  the headlines of violence, war and suffering. We so even if we might not truly feel like rejoicing.  Gaudete Sunday is a glimpse of the joy that comes at Christmas. 

The  joy  we anticipate today is the birth of our Messiah  on Christmas Day.  On Christmas, God’s light and peace dispelled the darkness of sin and evil.  Our faith, hope and love are stronger than any doubt, despair or hatred we encounter in our lives or in our world. The birth of our Savior  is coming so let us begin to “Rejoice!” 

We rejoice this Sunday as we gather in Mercy Park for the Bambinelli Blessing.  This Italian tradition of bringing the Baby Jesus figures from the crèche to be blessed by the Pope is here at OLM.  So please join us on Sunday after the 9:00am Mass as we gather to sing and pray and truly rejoice at the birth of the Christ Child on Christmas. 

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We can also rejoice after going to Confession this week in time to prepare for Christmas.  On Monday night, December 18th, there are two hours of Confessions scheduled from 6:00pm until 8:00pm here at OLM with two priests available for both hours of Confessions.  Also there are two priests scheduled for Saturday, December 23rd, for Confessions from 3:00pm until 3:45pm.  No matter the season there is truly no better way to find real joy as we receive God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession.   Come to confession  this week and then  be able to truly rejoice on Christmas in the love and mercy of God.

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We can also rejoice by helping the poor and needy.  Perhaps consider buying an extra-gift card at Stop & Shop while  getting the Christmas cookie supplies or an extra gift card at Walmart when going to find replacement lights for the tree this week. OLM Outreach is always in great need of these  gift cards.  Simple acts of charity bring great  joy. Try it and you’ll be rejoicing this Christmas with the Christ Child who was born poor.

We can also rejoice by dropping by to visit the long neglected neighbor, calling the old friend we haven’t spoken to in awhile or by forgiving a family member who has hurt us in some way. Then we can rejoice on Christmas in the love of the Christ Child.

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We can also rejoice in offering an encouraging word of appreciation rather than a biting comment and cynical criticism or co-workers, friends and family. So forgo the cynical comments and sarcastic remarks instead try true gratitude as it always leads to joy at Christmas.

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We can also rejoice by stopping in OLM Church and spending some time in prayer with the Lord.  We are truly blessed at OLM as our Church is open all day.  So make some time this week to reflect on the true meaning of the season.  On the way to the market, the Post Office, the liquor store or the mall, carve a few minutes out to visit the Lord, truly present in the tabernacle.  Stop, pray and rejoice with the Lord this week and  the celebration of his birth will be all the more joyful!

Joy truly is the “infallible sign of the presence of God.” So let us begin the rejoicing today in word and deed. This late Advent time is a time to live the joy we anticipate at Christmas. We live it in prayer with Lord, the Sacraments, and our good works. Rejoice!

Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!

Tis the Season for Gratitude, Prayer, Charity & Blessing the Bambinelli

Tis the Season for Gratitude, Prayer, Charity & Blessing the Bambinelli

Dear Parishioners:                                

New AED by the OLM Sacristry Door.

New AED by the OLM Sacristry Door.

I wish to thank the parishioners who so generously donated the new automated external defibrillators (AED) for our church and school.  An AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest when someone’s  heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.  There are two located in OLM Church, one in the vestibule and one by the sacristy. We have also placed two in the school and a third is portable and brought outside when the students are at gym or recess. 

These life-saving devices can be used by anyone with a little training.  After Christmas, we will be holding training sessions for our OLM School faculty and staff and for our OLM Ushers and Staff.  The training will be open for anyone interested in learning how to use an AED.  We are truly thankful for those who were so quick and generous to support our effort to purchase the AEDs for OLM.  They cost over $1,000 a piece but they are an invaluable addition to our parish.  In your name, I offer our sincere thanks for the donation of these life-saving AEDs.

During Advent we are called to prepare ourselves  and our world with prayer and charity for the coming of the Messiah.  At last Sunday’s Weekly Angelus Address,  Pope Francis offer this reflection on Advent.  The Holy Father stated:

Pope Francis delivers his weekly Angelus Address at St. Peter's in Rome.

Pope Francis delivers his weekly Angelus Address at St. Peter's in Rome.

Jesus exhorts us in the Gospel (Cf. Mark 13:33-37) to take heed and watch, to be ready to receive Him the moment of his return. He says to us: “Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time will come lest He come suddenly and find you asleep” (vv. 33-36). The person that takes heed is one that, in the noise of the world, doesn’t let himself be overwhelmed by distraction or by superficiality, but lives in a full and aware way, with concern first of all for others. With this attitude, we are aware of the tears and the needs of our neighbor and we can also grasp his human and spiritual capacities and qualities. The person that heeds then turns also to the world, trying to counter the indifference and cruelty in it.”

Refugees on the move in the Middle East.

Refugees on the move in the Middle East.

As we continue to prepare ourselves and our world for the Messiah, let us heed the Holy Father’s Advent words. Our concern for our neighbors especially those less fortunate and in need should be  a hallmark of our anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. 

The Catholic Church in the United States is the largest Refugee Resettlement agency in the nation and the Diocese of Providence is the largest in the State of RI.  This Advent OLM Outreach is  looking for help in aiding several Refugee Families who have been resettled to RI.   These families are fleeing wars, famines, persecution and poverty and arrive here with only the clothing on their backs. The Diocese of Providence helps them find housing and work. 

Refugees recieving assistance from Catholic Church.

Refugees recieving assistance from Catholic Church.

Any help you may wish to offer  our efforts is truly appreciated.  We always are in need of monetary donations, and also gift cards  especially to Walmart and Stop & Shop.  If you would like to help in any way, large or small, please contact Doug Green, our OLM Outreach Director.

Pope Francis reminds us that Advent calls us to turn to the world and counter  its often “indifferent cruelty.”  We are called to prepare for Christ at Christmas not only in our own homes but in the world around us.  We can do this in all kinds of ways: helping OLM Outreach, visiting neglected neighbors or lonely relatives, volunteering at McAuley House or Emmanuel House homeless shelters.

Italian Children at the Bambinelli Blessing in Rome.

Italian Children at the Bambinelli Blessing in Rome.

This Advent we are bringing the Bambinelli Blessing to OLM.  Bambinelli is the Italian name for  Baby Jesus figurines that  children bring to be blessed by the Pope.  We have a small number of these beautiful figurines available for sale after Masses this weekend.  Next Sunday after the 9:00am Mass we invite you to come to Mercy Park by the parish crèche to bless the Bambinelli.  So please join us, and bring the Baby Jesus from your own crèche to be blessed by your priests (not the Pope!).  We’ll have singing led by our Children’s Choir, hot chocolate and donuts too! It’s a great way to prepare for Christmas and celebrate Gaudete Sunday!

It’s Advent so take heed and "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths." Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!