Ordinary Time Ending as We Gather to Give Thanks to God!

Ordinary Time Ending as We Gather to Give Thanks to God!

Dear Parishioners:                                
Ordinary Time is coming to end as we prepare for the great Solemnity of Christ the King next week which is the final Sunday of the Church Year. The Season of Advent starts soon. It’s hard to believe that the Church’s liturgical year iscoming to end so soon!                        

Of course, if you turn on a radio or TV you  hear all the Christmas music and see Christmas advertisements!  If you go to the mall or the local CVS, you’ll see the Christmas displays!  It started immediately after Halloween and in some cases before Halloween!

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For me it is a truly a ridiculous over commercialization of a sacred season. This Thursday wecelebrate that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving Day! Much of the retail world have seemingly forgotten this holiday.  But on Thursday millions of Americans gather around their table to share a meal and give thanks to Almighty God for their blessings and bounty.

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Thanksgiving Day is truly about preparing a special meal and then sharing it with family and friends.  This also included attending  high school football games, watching the NFL  and even tossing the football around in the backyard. Every family no matter how large or small, no matter how rich or poor, nomatter what color or creed  stops on Thanksgiving to give thanks to God!

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Now for some people it as just a chance to get away on vacation or a time to spend night preparing for the big sales at the stores.  They then rush to the malls to fight the crowds and buy things nobody really needs and usually don’t appreciate.

Having spent five Thanksgivings living in Belgium while in the seminary, I grew very fond of the holiday.  For the Belgians it was just another Thursday and meant nothing! We classes were held and there were no football games!  We had to get our turkeys and pies from the local U.S. military base. And our Thanksgiving meal was far from home and our family.


Having celebrated Thanksgiving so far away, I grew to cherish it’s uniquely American traditions.  I have a priest friend who maintains that Thanksgiving is not only a uniquely American holiday but also a very Protestant one.  He tells me  that’s why many people do not come to  Mass on Thanksgiving Day.  I not sure that’s the real reason but  history  does tell  us that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims in 1621.

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We also know that the Puritan pilgrims were very anti-Catholic. They had left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. The Puritans were strict Calvinists who opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns as too “Papist”!

Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, was a Catholic! He had been enslaved by the English but was freed by Spanish Franciscan Friars. Squanto was then baptized and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known  as Thanksgiving Day. So perhaps it is a Catholic holiday!

So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinists who fled England, we Catholics might remember that the same unjust laws they fled also granted the crown of martyrdom to St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion, and many other Catholic martyrs.

Also remember that the  Greek word “Eucharistia” means “Thanksgiving.”  Thus,  Holy Mass is the true “Thanksgiving Meal.” So begin your Thanksgiving Day this year by joining us on Thursday at 9:00am Mass. We gather together as a parish family to truly give our Heavenly Father thanks and gratitude for our many blessings. Our OLM Choir is singing with praise to  our good and gracious God. Also Dominican Friar, Father John Sica, OP from Providence College  is preaching the Mass.   Join us as we  give thanks to God in the best possible way, at Mass!

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And on Thanksgiving Day before you happily share   your meal, don’t forget to raise your  glass and recall the words of  the great Catholic author, Hilaire Belloc: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino! Let us Bless the Lord!”

Fr. Barrow, Deacon Dowd and I wish you  a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Know of our prayers for your  safe travel. Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!

 

In the Face of Tragedy and Death, We Must Continue to Pray

In the Face of Tragedy and Death, We Must Continue to Pray

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Last week a beautiful young girl, Gianna Cirella, died tragically.  She was laid to rest on Tuesday. 

In his homily at her Funeral Mass, St. Kevin's Pastor, Father Bob Marciano stated: "The Lord did not and does not take life, a mysterious illness did that, but He only gives life, in fact, He hates sickness, and death as much as we do, that is the very reason that he sent us His son, to steer us through life's tragedies and turn what is bad into something good. Like those first disciples of the Divine Master, seeking answers to life's many mysteries, we come here, to this sacred place and to Him, the Lord of all life, to offer this Mass of Christian Burial, the highest prayer of the Church, and to assist Gianna with our prayers, on her final journey home to a loving God who first gave her to us. We come to stand beside Martha of the Gospel we just heard to say, "Yes, Lord we believe, that you are the Lord of Life."

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Let us continue to pray for Gianna's grieving friends and family.  Also let us pray those who grieve the loss of so many in the tragedy that took place in a Texas Church on Sunday.  May the Lord of faith, hope and love be with them all and grant them consolation.

Let us also commend to God's mercy Gianna as well as the 26 victims in Texas.  May we never lose hope  or doubt our faith in Christ but rather may we always turn to our loving and merciful God in our time of need and pain and do what we are called to do as Christians, pray.

An Ancient Prayer for the Dead

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God of the spirits and of all flesh, who have trampled death and annihilated the devil and given life to your world, may you yourself, O Lord, grant to the soul of your deceased servant N. rest in a place of light, a verdant place, a place of freshness, from where suffering, pain and cries are far removed. Do You, O good and compassionate God forgive every fault committed by him in word, work or thought because there is no man who lives and does not sin. You alone are without sin and your justice is justice throughout the ages and your word is truth. Since you, O Christ our God, are the resurrection, the life and the repose of your deceased servant N., we give you glory together with your un-begotten Father and your most holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.

And as we console one another, as we keep faith with our beloved dead by praying daily for their eternal rest, perhaps these words of Saint Ignatius Loyola will help. Shortly before his death, Saint Ignatius wrote:

    If we had our fatherland and our true peace in our sojourn here in this world, it would be a great loss to us when persons or things that   gave us so much happiness are taken away.  But as we are pilgrims on   this earth, with our lasting city in the kingdom of heaven, we should not consider it a great loss when those whom we love depart a little before us, for we shall follow them before long to the place where   Christ our Lord and Redeemer has prepared for us a most happy dwelling in his bliss.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

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87 Signed, Sealed and Confirmed in the Catholic Faith!

87 Signed, Sealed and Confirmed in the Catholic Faith!

Catherine Clements is confirmed by Bishop Checchio.

Catherine Clements is confirmed by Bishop Checchio.

Dear Parishioners:                                

We had a wonderful celebration of Confirmation last Sunday.  Our 87 newly confirmed young adults have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and confirmed in their Catholic Faith.  We give thanks to God for this great occasion in the life our parish and we continue to pray for these young men and women.        

We must also give thanks to so many who helped make Confirmation a truly joyous and solemn celebration.  We thank Doug Green, our OLM Confirmation Coordinator, who works so hard to ensure a quality Religious Education program for the candidates and for his tireless efforts in making the Confirmation Ceremony so wonderful.  We also thank those helping Doug especially Mickey St. Jean, Mary Anne Weaver and Kathy Hall.

We offer our thanks to Henri St. Louis, our Choir Director, Deidre Donovan, our soloist and the OLM Choir for the beautiful music at the Mass.  Our Altar Servers and OLM Ushers also helped make the ceremony so terrific.  And we thank all those who helped to prepare, decorate and make the Mass truly solemn.

Bishop Checchio preaching at Confirmation Mass.

Bishop Checchio preaching at Confirmation Mass.

We thank Bishop Checchio of Metuchen who conferred the Sacrament upon our young adults  His presence and preaching are truly appreciated. We are grateful that  he took time from his very busy schedule to be with us at OLM. When the Bishop was Rector of the Seminary in Rome, he helped to prepare Fr. Barrow and Fr. Connors for the priesthood.  We’ve been blessed with these two great Associate Pastors at OLM and I thank Bishop Checchio who played such an important role in forming our young OLM priests.

Our newly Confirmed young adults  are fully initiated in the Catholic Faith and we hope to put them to work for God and Parish. In the coming weeks, they are to receive a letter inviting each of  them to consider taking up a ministry at OLM. We hope they willingly choose to serve their parish as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Choir Members, Ushers and Religious Education teachers. May they remember the words of the great Saint Catherine of Siena: “Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire!”

The Tierney Brothers with their brother, newly Confirmed Owen PATRICK Tierney, also pictured is Fr. Healey, OLM Pastor, Bishop Checchio and Fr. Barrow, OLM Associate Pastor.

The Tierney Brothers with their brother, newly Confirmed Owen PATRICK Tierney, also pictured is Fr. Healey, OLM Pastor, Bishop Checchio and Fr. Barrow, OLM Associate Pastor.

Fr. Barrow attended the Diocese of Providence Priests’ Convocation this past week at the Gurney’s Newport Hotel on Goat Island.  Noted Catholic author Sherry Weddell  presented  talks based upon her books: Forming Intentional Disciples, Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples and Fruitful  Discipleship. Her insights on building up discipleship at a parish  were very helpful and produced much fruitful discussion among the priests gathered.  Such a time away together is truly a great time for the priests to join with our bishops in prayer, reflection and also a little casual socializing. 

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While Fr. Barrow stayed in Newport and attended the entire Convocation,  I  stayed behind at OLM but was able to commute to Newport and attend some of the conferences as well. These Convocations are held every other year and  they are truly a great resource for priests.  We do not often come together except at occasional business meetings and funerals of brother priests. So it is always a welcomed occasion to gather together in a more relaxed and reflective time.  I thank both Bishop Tobin and Bishop Evans who continue to make these important Convocations a meaningful opportunity for their brother priests.

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Every priest   is also required to make an annual retreat.  This is to be a time of intense prayer and reflection at a Retreat House or a Monastery.  This week I am making my Annual Retreat from Monday evening until Friday morning. I am grateful to Fr. Barrow who will ably run the parish in my absence.  I am also grateful to the Priests of Opus Dei for their invitation to attend their Retreat for Diocesan Priests at the Arnold Hall Retreat Center in Pembroke, Massachusetts.

I look forward to the experience of prayer and reflection. I humbly ask for your prayers during this time of retreat that it may be a truly fruitful and helpful  time in support of  my priestly ministry. Please know that I shall pray for you and your intentions daily during the retreat.

Have a great week! Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!

 

Praying for our Dead While Confirming the Future of the Church

Praying for our Dead While Confirming the Future of the Church

Dear Parishioners:                                

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November has arrived and with it our commitment and duty as Christians to pray for the dead.  During this All Souls Month of November we especially recall the poor souls in purgatory.          

The Church teaches us that after death there is for some as state of purgation, more commonly called Purgatory.  It is entirely different from Hell.  It is simply a purifying process for those who die in God’s grace but are not yet prepared to enjoy the glory of heaven.

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Saint Pope John Paul II described purgatory in these words: “Those who live in this state of purification after death are not separated from God but are immersed in the love of Christ.  Neither are they separated from the saints in heaven or from us on earth. We all remain united in the Mystical Body of Christ, and we can therefore offer up prayers and good works on behalf of our brothers and sisters in purgatory.”

It is good theology, and it is good common sense. Imagine if we got a call when we got home and they told us that the President or the Pope was coming for dinner.  Wouldn’t we want some time to prepare? Wouldn’t we want to get ready to greet them? 

Judas Maccabaeus Praying for the Dead  by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640

Judas Maccabaeus Praying for the Dead  by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640

And so it is when we are called at death to the eternal banquet by God our loving Father.  Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John:  “I go to prepare a place for you.”  So we too prepare to meet our Lord, by our time in purgatory.

This is why the Church has the ancient and venerable tradition of praying for the dead and why we have Masses  for the dearly departed.   It is also why we have the feast of All Souls, for the souls in purgatory.  This tradition can be seen as far back as the Old Testament in the book of Maccabees which tells us:   “it is good to pray for the dead.”  St. Augustine, the  great Doctor of the Church,  once remarked about cemeteries that “monuments are built for the survivors but prayer is the best way to assist the dead.”

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We pray for the dead and have Mass offered for the repose of their souls because the dead who are in as they depend upon the aid and charity of our prayers.  For that reason, we have the custom of calling them poor souls. We are urged to always remember the dead daily in our prayers and at Masses.  These beloved souls undergoing purification after death depend completely upon the charitable remembrances of us who are their fellow members in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.  At the same time, they continue to love us and can also pray for us.

Today in very special way  we remember our fellow  OLM parishioners who died over the last year.  We remember  them and all souls during this month. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.  And may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. 

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This Sunday night at the 5:00pm Mass, we  celebrate with great joy as a parish with the 88 young adults who are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and begin a new chapter in their young lives as Catholic disciples. They receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to help them live as courageous witnesses of Christ in the world. We are grateful that they have chosen to come forward for the Sacrament and continue to grow in their Catholic Faith. 

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We thank their parents and sponsors who have led them to this important occasion in their faith life. We also thank the many teachers who taught them the ways of Christ and the rich teaching of the Catholic Church.  We must also thank Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, NJ for traveling to OLM to celebrate Confirmation with our young adults.  It is a great privilege to have him with us for this special occasion in the life of our parish.

Bishop Checchio’s  episcopal motto is “Be reconciled to God.” This motto  recalls St. Paul’s appeal for us to continue the central mission for which Jesus was sent by the Father. And so let us pray for our newly Confirmed that they may always be reconciled to God in their lives. May they continue to grow in faith, hope and love as go forth sealed with the Holy Spirit and confirmed in their Catholic Faith. We offer a warm welcome to Bishop Checchio and our prayerful congratulations to our Confirmandi!

Do good. Be well. God Bless! Happy Veterans’ Day!

 

All Saints and All Souls, the Church at Prayer

All Saints and All Souls, the Church at Prayer

Dear Parishioners:                                
 

October ends this Tuesday on Halloween!  Of course, All Hallows Eve is truly a night to prepare for the month of November when we celebrate All Saints and All Souls.  So enjoy the costumes and the candy on Tuesday night but make sure to attend the All Saints Holy Day Mass on Wednesday.                 

November 1st is the great Solemnity of All Saints as the Church celebrates all the saints, those canonized or beatified, and the multitude of those who are in Heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later on the Popes set November 1st as the day for commemorating all the Saints.

  The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs.  Painting by Fra Angelico C.1434  

  The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs.  Painting by Fra Angelico C.1434

 

We all have this "universal call to holiness." What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in Heaven?  We "must follow in His footsteps and conform ourselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. We must devote
ourselves with all our being to the glory of God and the service of our neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history
" (Lumen Gentium, 40).

We have four Masses for the Solemnity of All Saints so that you might fulfill your obligation. On Tuesday there is a Vigil Mass at 5:00PM and on the Wednesday there are three Holy Day Masses at 7:30am, 9:00am and 7:00pm. 

We also celebrate All  Souls Day on Thursday with three Masses.  There are Masses at 7:30am, 9:00am and 12Noon.  The 9:00am Mass is for the OLM School but all are welcome to join us.  Following this Mass, the Middle School Students are to process to St. Patrick's Cemetery for a brief prayer service for all the souls who rest in that sacred place.  The Noon All Souls Mass features beautiful music fitting the feast.

The Poor Souls in Purgatory.

The Poor Souls in Purgatory.

The Church, after rejoicing on All Saints with those of her children who have entered the glory of Heaven, prays on All Souls Day for all those who, in the purifying  of purgatory await the day when they are to be joined to the company of saints.  By virtue of the consoling doctrine of the communion of saints the merits and prayers of each one of us are able to help all souls. The Church is able to join Her prayer with that of the saints in Heaven and supply what is wanting to the souls in purgatory by means of Holy Mass, and also the alms and sacrifices of Her children.

The Day of the Dead. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)

The Day of the Dead. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)

We remember all the souls in purgatory on  All Souls Day but in particular we remember the names of your own beloved dead inscribed on the All Souls Envelopes.   They are to be remembered throughout the month of November as they are placed upon the altar.  Let us continue to pray for the poor souls in purgatory. In a special way we also remember the sixty OLM parishioners who have died this past year.  We do this on Sunday, November 5th at the 10:30am Mass. Their families have been invited to join us at the Mass as we remember them.

Let us continue to pray for these grieving families who have experienced the pain and sorrow of  a death of a loved one.  As we pledge our prayers for our own beloved  dead and for all souls this month, we are reminded of the words of Saint John Chrysostom in the 4th Century:  “Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” 

Bishop James F. Chechhio of Metuchen, NJ

Bishop James F. Chechhio of Metuchen, NJ

Next Sunday we welcome Bishop Checchio of Metuchen, NJ for the Conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation for 88 of our  parish young adults. Confirmation Mass is at the usual parish 5:00pm Sunday evening Mass. Please continue to pray for the candidates and their sponsors as they receive the Sacrament.  

St. Pope John Paul the Great teaches us: “Through the seal of the Spirit conferred by Confirmation, the Christian attains his/her full identity and becomes aware of his/her mission in the Church and the world.”

As the month of October comes to an end and the month of November begins please note the change of time for the Saturday evening Mass from 5:00pm to 4:00pm.  Also Confessions on Saturday afternoons move from 4:00pm to 3:00pm.  This “fall back” in time continues until  Saturday, April 7, 2018 so plan accordingly!

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

 

Celebrating Mary, Queen of Confessors as We  Prepare for Confirmation

Celebrating Mary, Queen of Confessors as We Prepare for Confirmation

Dear Parishioners:                                

We had a great showing for Devotions on Monday night.  Fr. Shemek was very pleased so many old friends and meet some new ones.  His reflection about the Black Madonna of Czestochowa was very well received and informative.  I thank him for traveling all the way from Tiverton to be with us.              

Grille the Priests Panel:  Fr. Nicanor Austriacho,OP; Fr. Brian Morris; Fr. Joshua Barrow; Fr. Adam Young and Fr. David Gaffney.

Grille the Priests Panel:  Fr. Nicanor Austriacho,OP; Fr. Brian Morris; Fr. Joshua Barrow; Fr. Adam Young and Fr. David Gaffney.

On this past Wednesday night we gathered for the Grill the Priest Night at 1149 Restaurant with a sell out crowd.  It was a very enjoyable and informative evening exploring the Catholic Faith.  I am grateful for the OLM School PTG members who worked so hard to make the evening such a success. 

Also I thank my brother priests, Fr. Gaffney, Fr. Young, Fr. Morris and Fr. Austriacho who made up the panel along with Fr. Barrow and myself.  We hope to do this again next fall as it is always a terrific event.

This Monday at Devotions we are joined by our Confirmation Class along with their sponsors and families.  We are offering our Rosary for these young men and women as they continue to prepare to receive the Sacrament on November 5th. Fr. Chris Murphy, the Chaplain at Bishop Hendricken High School, is to offer a reflection on Mary, Queen of Confessors.

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As always in this month of October there are two priests available for Confession on Monday from 6:00pm until 6:45pm.  Following this Monday’s Devotions our 88 Confirmation Candidates, their sponsors and familieshave the chance to go to Confession.  There are to be six priests available following the Devotions. I hope join us at Monday’s Devotions as we pray for these young people of OLM.  They are the future of our Church and parish and most certainly need our prayers. 

Over the last few weeks Fr. Barrow and I have met personally with each candidate and their parents. These meetings are always instructive and helpful for us as priests and also for the Confirmation families.  I know that this is a terrific group of young Catholic adults who are to be confirmed next month.

Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen at Confirmation Mass in New Jersey.

Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen at Confirmation Mass in New Jersey.

I am very grateful to my friend, Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey, who is travelling up to RI to celebrate the OLM Confirmation Mass on November 5th.  Before becoming a bishop, Bishop Checchio served as the Rector of the North American College in Rome where both Fr. Connors and Fr. Barrow were his students. He was ordained the Bishop of Metuchen in May 2016.  We look forward to his presence atour Confirmation this year.

Pope Francis reminds us about Confirmation when he stated:  “Confirmation unites us more firmly to Christ. It strengthens our relationship with the Church, and it gives us a special strength from the Holy Spirit to defend the faith and confess the name of Christ.” Let us continue to pray the Sacrament unites our young adults “more firmly to Christ” and may they always confess His sacred name in their lives!

This Friday from 5:30pm until 8:00pm the OLM School students are gathering in the School Parking Lot for the Annual Trunk or Treat Celebration. Fr. Barrow and I are decorating my car once again for the event. My trunk is to be filled with full sized, old fashion, American candy bars!  It is always a great night with some interesting and creative decorating of cars and costumes.  It’s hard to believe but Halloween is nearly here! 

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Recently a new state law went into effect that mandates that an automated external defibrillator (AED) must be placed in public view at any public gathering space that can hold 300 or more people We presently have an AED in our school building and one in the Church Sacristy. However, they are old and in need of updating.

We hope to replace them with more modern versions and mount the new AEDS in a more public location both in Church and in School.  They are very expensive items that cost as much as $1,500 a piece and we need four AEDs for our parish.  If anyone would like to help us purchase these life saving devices, please contact me. Once the new AEDs are in place weplan to offer a training session in their use for our ushers, faculty and anyone else interested in learning how to use them. 

Come to Monday Devotions and join us as we pray for our Confirmation Class. It’s worth the 30 minutes!! Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!