Enough Snow!  Let's Celebrate Saints and Prepare for Holy Week!!

Enough Snow! Let's Celebrate Saints and Prepare for Holy Week!!

Dear Parishioners:                                


I hope you survived the big snowstorm on Tuesday! It was a reminder that winter has not ended yet! I thank Paul Anderson, and his crack crew, who worked very hard all day to shovel and plow the snow!  They did a great job and we are grateful!                             

Luckily we didn’t lose power, or heat, but we were snowed in all day.  We still celebrated Mass at OLM!  In fact, about 10 hearty souls attended the 7:30am Mass on Tuesday morning!  Two brave souls trekked through the height of the snowstorm to attend the 12:05pm Mass!  I commend them all for their faith, witness and dedication to God!

Let’s hope it’s the end of snow until next winter.  But I fear it’s not!  I remember an Easter snowstorm or two over the years!  Let’s pray it doesn’t happen this year but Easter is on April 1st!  April Fools Day just might surprise us all! We celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Saturday morning. 

I am grateful to Bishop Evans who celebrated the Mass and Fr. David Gaffney who served as the homilist.  Also, I thank OLM Parishioner Sinead Campion who did the readings in her native Irish!  It was a beautiful and solemn celebration with beautiful music and a great reception of Irish coffee and soda bread!


Of course on Monday at Noon we mark the Solemnity of St. Joseph with Mass in Italian.  Again Bishop Evans serves as our celebrant and will celebrate the Mass in Italian!  We thank Andrea Minopoli, from    La Masseria,  and Dr. Anthony Bruzzese who will read in Italian.  It is always a beautiful and solemn celebration and afterwards we enjoy a little Italian Coffee and a zeppole or two!  I hope you can join us!

On Friday of this week I invite you to join in our special presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross. This beautiful and prayerful event is performed by the students of OLM Middle School.  It is always a great way to prepare for Holy Week.  There are two performances on Friday, the first at 1:00pm and then again at 7:00pm in OLM Church.  Join us, and bring the whole family, you and your children will find it a great reflection for this holy season.


Of course, next weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord is to be solemnly proclaimed at all Masses. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and marks the beginning of Holy Week. We will bless palm branches at all Masses and celebrate the solemn palm procession from Mercy Park at the 10:30 Mass. 

CRS RiceBowl English.jpg

On Palm Sunday our second collection is always the Operation Rice Bowl Collection.  I hope and pray you’ve been filing those humble cardboard bowls throughout these forty days of Lent.  All the funds collected from the Rice Bowls go directly to support the hungry of our world.  There are millions who suffer in famine and malnourishment and its our Church through the great work of Catholic Relief Services that helps to feed them on a daily basis.  

I ask that you please count the many coins you’ve collected and return it in the form of a check payable to OLM.  This helps our Monday morning counters complete the count.  My thanks in advance for your cooperation and your generous support of the Rice Bowl Collection.

Yes this is our last full week of Lent! How has your Lent been going? Have you been praying and fasting? Have you made efforts to give alms to the poor and needy?  Have you made a good Sacramental Confession of your sins?  There’s still plenty of time left to change your heart and renew your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Don’t let Easter come without truly preparing this year.


Next Saturday OLM is hosting All Day Confessions from 9:00am until 3:00pm.  There will be four or more priests available the entire time.  So spread the word among your friends and neighbors! It is a great opportunity to take the necessary time to confess your sins and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.  It is a special grace to do so on the threshold of Holy Week.  St. Augustine reminds us: “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day! See you at Living Stations on Friday. Do good. Be well.


Surviving Storms, Making the Mission and Confessing Sins!  It's Lent!!!!

Surviving Storms, Making the Mission and Confessing Sins! It's Lent!!!!

Dear Parishioners:                                


I hope those of you who lost your electricity in the storm last week are now in the light! It was a long weekend for many parishioners left in the cold and dark!  Thankfully we never lost the power at OLM like several other parishes throughout the state.  They celebrated Masses with just the candlelight!        

However, the high winds did some damage to the northeast corner of the Church roof and we lost many shingles.  Also the wind caught a door in the school and did some damage.  There were also a few leaks that sprung up as result of the rain and strong winds!  Thankfully Paul Anderson, our very able and reliable Director of the Physical Plant, was able to limit any severe damage.  Also a large branch on  a tree next to the Mercy Convent fell but thankfully missed the Convent.  Several large limbs fell over at St. Patrick Cemetery but missed the fence and headstones.  It’s nice to see that kind of storm go back to sea!  Thankfully Spring is just around the corner!

 Monsignor Cook enjoys the New England weather on the last night of the Mission!

Monsignor Cook enjoys the New England weather on the last night of the Mission!

I hope you were able to join us for the Lenten Mission this past week.  We had good crowds at the Mission each night and the priests were also kept busy in the Confessionals each evening.  It was a great time of prayer and renewal for our parish.  The Mission reminded us to make Lent a time to truly remember so we can truly celebrate Easter on April 1st!

In your name, I thank Monsignor Douglas Cook from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Newport Beach, California who led our Mission last week. He did a terrific job preaching the Gospel and leading us on Mission.  Let’s take his message to heart so we change our hearts this Lent and truly prepare them to  celebrate the crucified and risen Christ at Easter!

I invite you to join us for the Feast of St. Patrick next Saturday  with Mass at 11:00am as we honor of the Apostle of Ireland.  The Mass features readings and hymns in Irish.  Bishop Evans is our celebrant and Father David Gaffney, the Rector of Our Lady of Providence Seminary, is our homilist.  As usual we are having a reception following the Mass complete with Irish Coffee, Irish Soda Bread and Shamrock cookies!  You don’t have to be Irish to come celebrate!

A week from Monday at 12:05pm we mark the Solemnity of St. Joseph with a Mass in Italian. Bishop Evans who is fluent in Italian is our celebrant and Fr. James Ruggeri, my classmate and Pastor of St. Patrick Church in Providence, is our homilist.  The Mass features readings and hymns in Italian.  Not to worry the homily is in English!  Our reception following features Italian Coffee and those delicious treats, zeppolies! You don’t have to be Italian to come celebrate.

The last two Saturdays we have celebrated First Confession for our Second Grade First Communion Classes.  The children did an excellent job and know all their prayers!  I thank their teachers, OLM RE Directress Mickey St. Jean and Mrs. Mary Ryan from OLM School. I also thank their parents for sharing the Catholic faith with their children and continuing to see that they are grow in the faith.

Thanks to a few brother priests, the parents were also able to go to Confession while the children came foreword for the first time. Confession as they say is good for soul!  We have ample opportunities here at OLM for Confession, so if you’ve not made a good Confession in sometime, try to do it before Easter.


On Saturday, March 24th OLM is hosting All-Day Confessions from 9:00am until 3:00pm. There is going to be four priests available the entire time so there won’t be any waiting or long lines.  This is an annual event across the world and in some Churches in major cities they hold Confessions for 24 hours! Here in Rhode Island there are many other parishes across the Ocean State with All-Day Confessions.

So if you’ve been away from God, if you need the second chance that only God can offer, if you need some mercy and forgiveness in your life or you simply want to properly prepare for Easter, make a good Confession. Saint Pope John Paul II taught us: “Confession is an act of honesty and courage - an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God.”  Be sure to make a good Confession this Lent and make it an Easter to celebrate with peace and joy!  Do good. Be well.


Make the Lenten Mission, A Means of Renewal and Conversion

Make the Lenten Mission, A Means of Renewal and Conversion

Dear Parishioners:                                


A few folks recently asked if Church was being left cold over the last week as a form of Lenten discipline.   No its not.  The boiler in Church broke down and we’ve had to wait for the part to arrive to fix it.  Luckily while it was a little chilly in Church, the weather outside has been fairly mild.                                        

The heat should be up and running now during the unpredictable weather of March. The boiler is five years old and this is the first problem we’ve had with it.  The cost to fix it was over $4,000.  I thank you for your generous support to the monthly Building and Grounds Collection which helps defray these unexpected expenses.

You may have noticed a crucifix hanging in the hallway by the sacristy.  This crucifix hung for many years at the now closed St. Casimir Church in Providence. We were able to get it without cost and place it here at OLM.  It is a beautiful image to behold as you enter that area of Church.

We also were able to get an even larger crucifix from St. Casimir Church.  It is very large and beautiful but in need of some small repairs.  This too was obtained without cost to the parish.  We plan on hanging it in the OLM School Auditorium in the coming months.


The crucifix is always given a prominent placement in any Catholic Church and Catholic home.  But it isn’t merely an object of devotion or a piece of beautiful art.  The cross is call to us  to a conversion to Christ.  Such conversion, we are taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is done:
in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of  penance.”

We are called to conversion in our daily lives.  Conversion is a major theme in the Bible. The Old Testament prophets, St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter preached about the call to conversion. Jesus began his public ministry with the words, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

The Lord’s first words were a call to conversion. For Jesus, we are all in need of repentance.  We all need to recognize our failings and need to place our trust in God’s merciful love. Lent helps to do so.

This week  we welcome our Parish Lenten Mission Preacher, Monsignor Doug Cook, who  is preaching all the Masses this weekend. He is preaching  a Mission Talk each night on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 7:00pm.  Also each of those nights Confessions with four priest   available begins at 6:00pm.


The theme of our Lenten Mission is  “A Lent to Remember, An Easter to Celebrate.”  This Mission is our opportunity as individuals and as parish to deepen our faith, take up the call to conversion and renew our commitment to Christ and His Church.  The renewal from such a time of  time of prayer and reflection should invigorate us. 

So come out for the Mission.  It is a time of grace, a time for repentance, for change, and for becoming a renewed disciple. Confession is an essential part of any good  Lenten Mission. So seize the chance to go to Confession this week and receive God’s mercy. St. Alphonsus Ligouri used to say that the sign of a successful Mission was  how many people came to Confession! I pray you keep the four priests busy in the Confessional this week!


I have been friends with Msgr. Cook since we studied together in the seminary at the American College in Belgium. He is an exemplary priest and an excellent preacher.  He made the long journey to lead us on the Mission at OLM from sunny Southern California! We thank  him for his presence and preaching in our parish.

Let’s make this a Lent to remember at Our Lady of Mercy, so we can truly celebrate Easter with renewed faith and great joy!! Come to the Mission this week! Go to Confession this week! Invite a friend and bring along a neighbor with you!! Do good. Be well. Repent and believe in the Gospel! See you at the Mission!


Praying for Our New Catholics to Be and Preparing for the Lenten Mission

Praying for Our New Catholics to Be and Preparing for the Lenten Mission

Dear Parishioners:                          

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is the program of catechetical instruction for those adults needing the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation.   Here at OLM we are truly blessed to have a great team led by Fr. Barrow who meet every Sunday to teach and learn about the Catholic Faith.

 Fr. Barrow, OLM RCIA Team with the new elect, Sue Healey and Al Behbehani  at the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

Fr. Barrow, OLM RCIA Team with the new elect, Sue Healey and Al Behbehani  at the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

The candidates are non-Catholics who need full initiation into the Church, including Baptism, those non-Catholics needing to be fully received into the Church, and some baptized Catholics who need Communion, and Confirmation. Last Sunday afternoon two of our candidates received the Rite of Election at the Cathedral.

Bishop Tobin presided at the ceremony which had a large group of people from across the Diocese who are to enter into the Church at the Easter Vigil. At this rite, upon the testimony of sponsors, and catechists, and the catechumens' affirmation of their intention to join the Church, the Church makes its "election" of these catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation.                      

  Bishop Tobin greets Al Behbehani. 

Bishop Tobin greets Al Behbehani. 

In the presence of the bishop they inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect at the cathedral as a pledge of fidelity. Now the catechumens are called "the elect' or the   illuminandi" ("those who will be enlightened"). They now begin a Period of Purification and Enlightenment — the final, intense preparation for the  reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.

With great joy we offer our congratulations to two of our candidates who are now called “the elect.”  Our “elect” from OLM are Sue Healey, she is to be received into the Catholic Church, and Al Behbehani who is to be baptized and fully     initiated into the Catholic Faith.  These last weeks of Lent are a particularly intense period of prayer and preparation for these catechumens as they ready themselves for the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass. 

I ask you to please keep them in your prayers, that they continue to grow in the faith and in the love and knowledge of God. We rejoice for the so many across the Diocese who have chosen to join us in living our Catholic Faith, and being active members of our Church.  RCIA was traditionally called “Convert Class” until the renewal of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.    But conversion isn’t only a term that applies to someone joining another faith tradition or church.  Conversion is about a change of mind, and heart, that affects all the baptized. We are all called to a conversion to Christ in our daily lives.                

The source of this daily conversion is our encounter with Jesus Christ in prayer, in good works, and in the Sacraments. We find this especially in our experience of his forgiveness, love, and mercy. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the three traditional pillars of Lent. They are the embodiment of this conversion during this holy season.              Lent calls us to renew our dependency on God and others through intense prayer, the experiencing of hunger and serving the needs of the poor. Conversion is truly living the incarnate love of God manifested at Holy Week, the final destination of our Lenten fast of forty days.   

Next week we begin our Annual Parish Lenten Mission at OLM. We welcome Monsignor Doug Cook from Newport Beach, California.  He and I studied together for the priesthood at the American   College in Belgium and he is an old friend!                                              

 Monsignor Doug Cook

Monsignor Doug Cook

The theme of his mission is “A Lent to Remember, An Easter to Celebrate.” He will be preaching at all Masses next weekend and then will lead us each night of the Mission.  A complete schedule is in the    bulletin.  This Mission is our time to depart from our regular routine and set aside an intense time of prayer and reflection.  We needn’t go to a Monastery or Retreat House, but we gather right here at OLM!  It is great way to renew our faith and live our call to conversion to Christ.  So please mark your calendar and be sure to make the Mission!

I am grateful for your support of the Catholic Charity Appeal this weekend. This crucial collection funds the many good works of our Church in RI, and your support is vital. In the name of the poor, I offer my sincere thanks for your generous response.        

It’s Lent! Don’t forget  Fridays are for fish and Stations of the Cross! Do good. Be well. Pray, fast and give!

Lent is Here! What Are You Doing About it?

Lent is Here! What Are You Doing About it?

Dear Parishioners:                                


Lent is here! Our forty days of repentance of sin and conversion to Christ!  Ash Wednesday has come and gone and along with it the ashes on our foreheads.  But the call to commit to more prayer, more penance, more sacrifice and more charity remains!   

The three traditional Lenten disciplines are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. St. Peter Chrysologus taught that “prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives.”  How can we take that wisdom to heart for Lent?  How can we let those disciplines rule our lives offer our own passions and selfish desires?

Begin with prayer. Jesus  taught us to pray always. (Luke 18:1)  To pray is to enter consciously and deliberately into the presence of God. Jesus was faithful unto death because He knew that He was always in the presence of our Heavenly Father, even when He did not feel that presence.


We too are all always in the presence of our Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly. To “pray always” means to “practice the presence of God.” During this Lenten season, find the time to be with God in prayer.  Stop by Church and spend time with the Lord.  Pray the Rosary with more frequency.  Pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays. Come to Daily Mass. God is present to us always, so why not acknowledge it with more prayer time.

Our Lenten fasting is more than just self-inflicted hunger, and it  certainly isn’t dieting. Fasting is a discipline that allows us to discover our true needs and our present priorities. It allows us to discover whether our supposed desire for God is greater or less than our obvious desires for everything that is not God.

This Lent, choose to fast from those things, including those very good things, thateasily become idols in our lives.  Let’s see if our desire for fullness, pleasure and love can be met by God. Until we give God every opportunity to be the first in our lives, we continue to fall into some form of idolatry.  We’ll continue to approach material things and even people in a grasping way, rather than approaching them with generous and open hands and hearts.

In Catholic tradition, alms giving were the acts of charity or donations given above one’s tithe or duty.  This year, let the Lenten discipline of alms giving become the practice of a lifetime.  Make a choice to spend more time, money and energy supporting the needs of the poor and less fortunate.  Give alms by supporting charity out of sacrifice not simply  by giving from a surplus. 


Next weekend we  put our alms giving to the test as we take up the Catholic Charity Appeal at OLM.  It is our annual call to prayerfully and financially support the good works of our local Church in the Diocese of Providence.  These good works include welcoming refugees and immigrants, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless,aiding the sick and visiting the prisoner, and teaching the beauty and truth of the Catholic Faith  to our young people and sharing the Good News of Christ with the ignorant.


The Catholic Charity Appeal supports the many ministries and programs of the Diocese of Providence which provide social, educational and spiritual support to thousands of Rhode Islanders each year regardless of race, creed or background. We do not help people because they are Catholic, we do it because we are Catholic!

We take up the Catholic Charity Appeal at all Masses next weekend.  Our 2018 OLM Parish Goal is $193,000 and I am hopeful that we can once again not only make the goal but exceed it! I thank Kevin and Nancy McDevitt for serving as the General Chairs of the CCA here at OLM and also Steve and Antonia Zubiago who serve as the Chairs to the Bishop’s Partners in Charity at OLM. I am grateful for their leadership of the Charity Appeal in our parish.


Please be prepared as we take up the in-pew solicitation of the CCA at all Masses next weekend. We are asking every parish family to prayerfully consider pledging a sacrificial gift of $300 over 12 months.  I am grateful for any support you choose to give and in the name of the poor and needy who directly benefit from your generosity, I offer my sincere thanks and gratitude.

It’s Lent so remember that  Fridays are for fish and Stations! Do good. Be well. Pray, fast and give alms!


Lent is Coming!  Are You Ready to Pray, Fast and Give Alms???

Lent is Coming! Are You Ready to Pray, Fast and Give Alms???

Dear Parishioners:                                

It was a long night last Sunday as I watched the Superbowl with some priest friends. It wasn’t the ending we were hoping for but it was a game to watch.  I offer my congratulations to the Eagles and their fans on their first Superbowl victory.     


Football season is now over and MLB Spring Training  begins soon.  But we have a much more important season ahead of us.  The Holy Season of Lent begins this Wednesday, February 14th!  There has been much discussion about Ash Wednesday as this year  it falls on Valentine’s Day!

The observance of Ash Wednesday requires prayer, fasting  and abstinence from meat. Valentine's Day, on the other hand, is a day for celebrating romantic love, often by dining out on fancy meals and giving  chocolate and expensive gifts to a beloved. It's the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day have fallen on the same date.

As Catholics our observance of Ash Wednesday should take precedence over any Valentine’s Day celebration. There are  Catholic roots to Valentine’s Day as it is associated with a Catholic saint and martyr. However,  the holiday  as celebrated today is a commercial enterprise complete with greeting cards, expensive meals, candy, flowers and  people spending millions of dollars.

Bolivia Ash Wednesday.jpg

Ash Wednesday begins our forty days of prayer, fasting and alms giving. Ashes are smeared on our foreheads with the words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The act of putting on ashes on foreheads symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need for repentance. Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent.

Ash Wednesday is but the opening pitch for forty days of “spiritual spring training,” Lent.  The goal is Easter.  The hope is that, if we unite ourselves more closely with Jesus on His cross through more fervent prayer, greater charity to others, and sincere penance for our sins through His mercy we’ll be united with Him in His Resurrection.


There is a complete schedule in the bulletin for Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent at OLM.  There are four Masses on Ash Wednesday and they usually see great crowds.  Also I ask you to please take up works of charity by supporting the Rice Bowl Collection and the Catholic Charity Appeal.

Rice Bowls are available to take home and place your  sacrificial offerings in throughout Lent.  This important collection for the work of Catholic Relief Services aids the hungry of the world is  taken up on Palm Sunday.  The Annual Catholic Charity Appeal which supports the good works of our Diocese is to be taken up on the weekend of February 25th.

Lent is also a time of penance and conversion from sin. Confessions are heard daily Monday through Friday during Lent at OLM.  Also an extra guest confessor joins us every Monday night during Lent. On March 24th there are All-Day Confessions at OLM. This Lent make sure to get to Confession!


A penance should be taken up during Lent that might include fasting from some pleasure or comfort in our lives.  Giving up something in a sacrificial not superficial way always helps us gain a deeper understanding of Christ’s loving sacrifice for us on the Cross.  Also consider taking up some extra daily prayer and committing to a Lenten devotion.  With two Daily Masses during Lent we are truly blessed with opportunity to be nourished by the Eucharist.  Also the Stations of the Cross  are celebrated every Friday and are a great Lenten Devotion. Plan on making the Lenten Mission in March with Monsignor Douglas Cook.

Pope Francis teaches us: “Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in His Word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take.”


So take up your Lenten path  with zeal and commitment  on Ash Wednesday.  Please consider moving your Valentine’s Day to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) and keep the Lenten Fast on Ash Wednesday! Pray, fast and give alms! Take up your cross and live your Catholic Faith! Do good. Be well. A Blessed Lent!