Summer Reading & Renewal!!

Summer Reading & Renewal!!

Dear Parishioners:                          

Fr. Barrow and our Summer Seminarian, Dan Mahoney, report that the Steubenville East Youth Conference was a great event.  Thousands of young people from across New England and beyond gathered at UMass Lowell for a weekend of faith and fellowship.       Masses were prayerful and joyful, the talks and conferences were challenging and uplifting, and it was truly a time of renewal of faith, joy and hope.  Hundreds of priests were in attendance and the Sacrament of Confession was offered for thousands!  We thank all those who made this weekend possible!

Beach-Reading-2.png

I hope you get some time this summer to relax, refresh and renew.   Pope Francis reminds us about summer, saying: “It’s very important that in the time of rest and detachment from daily concerns, to re-energize the forces of body and spirit, deepening the spiritual path.” One way I  try to refocus and deepen the spiritual path during these summer days is  to do more reading.

images.jpg

This summer I am reading a few books.  For my spiritual reading I’ve just begun reading a small book entitled, The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle.  It is the selected writings from Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia.. St. Manuel  was a Spanish priest and bishop  who after his ordination in 1901,  was sent to a church in rural Spain.  He found the church to be filthy dirty and abandoned.  Praying before a Tabernacle covered in dust, cobwebs and dirty altar cloths,  the young priest decided to dedicate his life to serving  Jesus present in the Tabernacle. From that moment in  Church, St.  Manuel’s entire life and ministry was dedicated to spreading devotion to the Eucharist. And so he founded a religious community dedicated to the Eucharist. The saintly bishop said: “I ask to be buried next to a Tabernacle, so my bones, after death, as my tongue and my pen in life, are saying to those who pass: There is Jesus! Do not leave Him abandoned!”

I also read  just for fun and so once again when I’m at the beach I’ll be reading a  mystery novel from the Bruno the Chief series. They are set in rural France and tell the tales of a country policeman who solves mysteries.  They are  always delightful reads for the beach and  highly entertaining.  And with my interest in history I hope to finish up the biography of Charles  de Gaulle that I began reading many months ago! It is a massive book full of details but also very interesting.

the-british-are-coming-3d.png

When it’s finished I hope to began reading historian Rick Atkinson's latest book entitled The British Are Coming.  It is a history of the  early  part of the Revolutionary War and   received rave reviews.  It is just the first of a trilogy by the historian Atkinson about this important period in American History,  He is also the author of a tremendous trilogy on the history of the Second World War.  He writes history that is thoroughly readable and I recommend   his books.

We give thanks to God the Creator for the summer and  the time  it provides  us to refocus and refresh as we relax and recreate in the warm sun. I hope you  find time to sit under a  tree or  on a beach and read a good book. I certainly agree with former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates who says: “A wild and crazy weekend involves sitting on the front porch, smoking a cigar, reading a book!” What are you reading this summer?

Bishop Donald Pelletier, Bishop emeritus of Morondava, Madagascar.

Bishop Donald Pelletier, Bishop emeritus of Morondava, Madagascar.

Next weekend is the Annual Missionary Cooperative Weekend at OLM.  Each year missionaries come to the parishes of our diocese to share with us their preaching the Good News in the Missions. It reminds us that we are part of a vast and universal Church and that we are  called to support the Missions.  The La Salette Missionaries will be at OLM next weekend at all Masses.  Coming to our parish are Bishop Donald Pelletier, a native of Attleboro, Massachusetts and the retired Missionary Bishop of Morondava, Madagascar, and join him are John and Sharon Markowitz, La Salette Lay Missionaries. They are speaking at all Mases next weekend.

Next weekend’s Second Collection is for the La Sallette Missionaries. Please note that there is no envelope for this collection. I thank you in advance for your sincere prayers and generous financial support   of the La Salette Missions! I am  away next week at  the National Catholic Conference Directors’ meeting in Charleston, SC. Be well. Do Good. God Bless!  Go Sox!

 

Safety, Justice and Healing

Safety, Justice and Healing

Dear Parishioners:                          

steubenville-east-sqaure.png

This weekend Fr. Barrow, Seminarian Dan Mahoney, Youth Activities Coordinator, Billy Burdier and many members of our OLM Youth Group are attending the Steubenville East Youth Conference being held at UMASS Lowell. They return late on Sunday night.  Each summer, Life Teen hosts six different Steubenville Youth Conferences across the country.   These gatherings are meant to strengthen and inspire teens and youth groups in their relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. It is an opportunity for hundreds of young Catholics from across the Northeast to gather together for a weekend of engaging liturgies, inspiring music, prayer, devotion and challenging talks. Pray for them that this time is spiritually fruitful.

Franciscan Apostolic Sisters and OLM Clergy

Franciscan Apostolic Sisters and OLM Clergy

This week our good Franciscan Apostolic Sisters, Sister Lourdes and Sister Emma, along with the FAS Sisters from Scalabrini Villa depart for their Annual Retreat.  This year the FAS Sisters from across the country are gathering in Peoria, Illinois for spiritual conferences and community meetings. The Sisters depart in their  van  early on Monday morning for the long journey to Peoria and return to OLM on July 31st.  Keep them and the entire FAS Community in your prayers during this time of renewal.  May their retreat be uplifitng and may God guide and protect them in their travels.

A letter from Bishop Tobin announcing the publication of a list of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of minors was in last weekend’s bulletin. This is part of the  Diocese of Providence  ongoing efforts and commitment to transparency, accountability and the hope of continued healing for the survivors of abuse. The list is available for a full review on the  Diocese of Providence’s website.

christ-on-the-cross-philippe-de-champaigne.jpg

As a priest I am painfully aware of  the shame  that has come upon our Church due to the sexual abuse of minors. I ask forgiveness again for the failings of those clergy and bishops who should have provided for the safety of our young people but instead betrayed the trust placed in them by God and by the faithful. We must recommit ourselves to vigilant prevention and also heartfelt prayer for the healing of the many victims and their families.

Sadly this list reveals that the evil of abuse took place in our own parish in the 1960s.  Named on the list is Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest from Ireland,  who served at OLM from 1965 until 1968. Tragically his many victims include people living in our community and parish. Smyth died in prison in 1997.

If you or  anyone  you know  has been the victim of sexual abuse, or has knowledge of such abuse, by any priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Providence, I urge you to report the information directly to the RI State Police or the RI Attorney General’s Office.  Also anyone may contact, Dr. Michael Hansen at the Office of Outreach and Prevention to learn about pastoral outreach programs or Kevin O’Brien at the Office of Compliance, to report abuse or learn more about the prevention of abuse.

button3-1.jpg

The Church has made great strides in addressing the evil of sexual abuse of minors.  New policies introduced over 20 years ago include background checks, educational and training prevention programs as well as outreach efforts to victims.  The Diocese is continually evaluating its policies and practices to ensure that our child protection and abuse prevention efforts are further strengthened. These measures have been effective, both to respond to victim-survivors with compassion and to prevent, as much as possible, incidents of abuse from occurring in the future.  Still, we must continue to be ever vigilant in order to make certain that the failings of the past are not repeated. 

I pledge that I will do all in my power as Pastor of OLM to ensure the safety of our young people. Pray that  our efforts might help bring peace and consolation to victim-survivors and their families who have experienced the horror of abuse. Let us affirm once again the central reality of our faith—that the Lord Jesus through His Cross has brought us to the new life in the Resurrection—we live as people of hope in the face of all the evil and sin we find in our world, and sad to say, even in our Church. Let us pray for continued safety, justice and healing for all.  Be well. Do Good. God Bless! 

 

Faith and Freedom for All

Faith and Freedom for All

Dear Parishioners:

Fourth-of-July_0011.jpg

I hope you had a Happy Fourth of July! It is always a great day to celebrate with family and friends, fireworks and cookouts. We celebrate our freedom and liberty as Americans and rejoice that we have overthrown the shackles of British oppression endured by our forefathers. However, as we rejoice in our freedoms as citizens of this nation, we also must consider that we are called to be faithful Catholic Citizens.

In a time, when many object to any form of religious expressions in public and others reject any attempt to speak the moral truth in the public square, we must be mindful of our role both as citizens of our nation and disciples of our Lord. Our Catholic teaching about “the dignity of the human person” and “the sanctity of human life,” teaches that the unique nature of humans, unlike any other creature, is something to be elevated and considered sacred as it demands our special respect and protection.

Declaration_of_Independence_(1819),_by_John_Trumbull.jpg

When human dignity is violated it is to do evil. When we serve human dignity, we do good. We live in a culture that often speaks loudly about protecting the environment and rescuing species on the brink of extinction. But it then casually licenses the killing of unborn children and easily legalizes euthanasia. The Founders of our country acknowledged the existence of natural law and natural rights. These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by a Creator; by “nature’s God,” to use the words of the Declaration of Independence.

Such ideas have grown out of fashion in much of legal theory and social science today. But they’re very much alive in the way we actually reason and behave in our daily lives. Our faith teaches us that we have basic rights that come with the special dignity of being human. These rights are inherent to human nature. In other words, they’re part of who we are. No government and no other person can legitimately take them away.

life_is_sacred_std_t-copy.jpg

However, if “nature’s God” is forced out of any human dialogue and political debate in the public square, then our rights become nothing more than a mere social convention. And social conventions can and do often change. Thus the very definition of who is and who is not a human can easily change to suit the latest social convention. Our Catholic Faith teaches that all human life, no matter how broken or flawed, young or old, large or small is sacred because it comes from God. And as both Catholics and citizens we have an obligation to defend human life and dignity. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God.

Catholic teaching on life and sexuality is part of the same integral vision of the human person that fuels Catholic teaching on immigration, poverty, justice, racism, and peace. Our great American tradition of freedom has always given people a right to freely bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic and political problem facing their community. However, many in our nation and our state seek to stifle such free speech and ban moral beliefs in the public square.

faith-and-politics.jpg

Yet for us as Catholic Citizens it is not only a privilege and not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel and our Catholic Faith to speak the truth even in the public square. We also have a duty to treat with charity and justice those people who do not share our beliefs. But that must never be an excuse for silence on matters of grave importance even when such truths of our faith are unpopular and seemingly inconvenient. This requires of all Catholics to truly be courageous witnesses to our moral convictions and seek to advance what we believe about key moral issues in the public square. This is not a matter of imposing our beliefs upon others but rather an act of truth-telling. Such truth is vital to the well being of our democracy. It is a duty and responsibility for each of us as faithful citizens of our nation to speak the truth with charity.

faithful-citizenship.jpg

In this time of moral confusion in our culture and erosion of morality in the public square, consider the words of St Augustine in the 4th century: “Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying, but let us live well, and times will be good. We are the times. Such as we are, such are the times.”

God Bless! Be well. Do Good. Go Sox! God Bless America!!

Celebrate the Eucharist with Thanks!

Celebrate the Eucharist with Thanks!

Dear Parishioners:                          

3342e1c482155ffb3d2cefab70e90090.jpg

  Last Sunday we celebrated Corpus Christi with a beautiful Eucharistic Procession following the 10:30AM Mass.  Eucharistic processions first became a popular practice in the life of the Church during the 12th Century.     Pope Benedict XVI eloquently noted in a homily in 2007, “It was born for the very precise purpose of openly reaffirming the faith of the people of God in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. It is a feast that was established in order to publicly adore, praise and thank the Lord, who continues ‘to love us to the end,’ even to offering us his body and his blood.”

By processing with the Holy Eucharist in a reverent, prayerful and joyful manner, we honor Christ truly present in the Eucharist and serve as witnesses to the intimate presence of God in the world and in each individual. The Eucharistic Procession powerfully displays the Incarnation, God becoming man, and thus speaks of his merciful love for all who journey to eternal life with him. Our procession last Sunday was certainly solemn, revenent, joyful and prayerful. We give thanks to all who helped make it so.  Our ushers and the Canopy bearers, those who decorated, Altar Servers and the Choir.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The singing of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, was quite beautiful and moving.   This hymn pays homage to our Lord both in the Eucharist and in His glory in the Trinity. It comprises the last two stanzas of Pange Lingua, a hymn written by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. This text has been set to music by composers as diverse as Palestrina, Mozart, Bruckner and Faure. And for nearly 1000 years Catholics have devoutly sang this hymn in honor of the Eucharistic Lord.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, considered one of the greatest theologians of the Church, valued faith as a key element of our worship of our Lord in the “sacred Host,” the Eucharist! We as Catholics believe that Christ is present to us in the consecrated bread known as the Host. This is true whether we receive Him in Holy Communion at Mass or adore Him in the monstrance or in the tabernacle. Our  belief that bread and wine once consecrated at Mass aren’t just symbols of our Lord but are indeed His body, blood, soul and divinity, has strong roots both in scripture and in the writings of numerous theologians going back to the 2nd century!  Although we see bread and wine it is truly our Savior, Jesus Christ, under the appearance of these elements. This doctrine is also called transubstantiation. St. Thomas himself was certainly no doubting Thomas about this dogma. As he once noted, Christ did not say at the Last Supper “this bread is my body” but rather “this is my body.”

This wonderful miracle, when our Lord comes to give us His grace and support, occurs countless times every day in Masses all over the world! And every day, our Lord, like His faithful servant Saint Thomas Aquinas, invites us to see and worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament through the eyes of faith! May we never take this great gift of the Eucharist for granted and may we be always faithful to Sunday Mass!

Senior Altar Servers at Corpus Christi Mass

Senior Altar Servers at Corpus Christi Mass

Of course our celebration of Corpus Christi gave us the chance to thank our Senior Altar Servers.  These young men and women have faithfully served the Eucharistic Lord at the altar of OLM.  Some  serving as many as ten years at Sunday Masses, weekday Masses, Holy Week, Christmas, Funerals and Weddings!  We are truly grateful for their example of service, reverence, and faith.  Please continue to pray for them as they head off to the world of college! May they continue to grow in faith and love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  May they continue to stay close to the Lord and His Church!

Deacon and Mrs. John Dowd

Deacon and Mrs. John Dowd

In the name of the Parish of Our Lady of Mercy, I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Deacon John Dowd.  He has served faithfully as our Parish Deacon these last few years and now he moves on from our parish family.  We wish Deacon and Mrs. Dowd,  much joy and happiness as they begin a new chapter in their lives. May God grant them His abundant blessings!

Happy Fourth of July! Don’t  forget   there is no  holiday from going to Sunday Mass! God Bless America!  Be well. Do Good. Go Sox!

 

Summer!  Let's Celebrate

Summer! Let's Celebrate

Dear Parishioners:

getty_167167350_9706479704500189_59669.jpg

School has ended and Friday was the first official day of summer! It’s hard to believe that it’s here already and soon we’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July! But now we can head to the beaches, sit by the pool, play some golf, take ride on the boat or just read a book under the shade of a tree! “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness,” said the great American novelist, John Steinbeck. Hopefully we can enjoy some time of refreshment, renewal and relaxation that come with the summer months. And as we do let us remember the blessings bestowed upon us by our loving God, the Creator of all things!

Deacon John Dowd

Deacon John Dowd

Next weekend we offer a fond farewell to our Parish Deacon John Dowd. Deacon Dowd and his wife, Cathy, have sold their home in North Kingstown and moved to Wakefield. He has served as our Deacon for the last six years and with his move to South County his time of ministry at OLM is coming to an end. Deacon Dowd is to preach all the Masses next weekend and following the 10:30AM Mass I invite you to the Reception for him and his wife at Mercy Park. They have been an important part of our OLM family these many years, so please stop by to offer best wishes and thanks to them. While serving at OLM, Deacon Dowd has faithfully baptized your children, prayed for your beloved dead, taught Baptism Class, led our Men of St. Joseph, preached the Gospel, led us in devotions and adoration of the Lord, and ministered to the residents of the St. Elizabeth’s Home. In your name, I offer my sincere gratitude for his faithful, zealous and loyal service to our parish and to the Church. We wish both him and his wife, much health and happiness in their new home. Ad multos annos!

DSC_0448.JPG

Those of you who regularly read the R.I. Catholic saw the new priests assignments. We are grateful that our own Fr. Barrow is not moving to another assignment! Yes, he is to be with us for another year (we hope and pray for a few more!!). I am grateful to Bishop Tobin for allowing Fr. Barrow to continue to serve OLM as the Associate Pastor for another year. Over the years OLM has been truly blessed with fine, zealous and holy young priests to serve as our Associate Pastors. In this age of fewer priests, we must be truly grateful for the blessings of these young priests. I know I give thanks to God everyday and to Bishop Tobin for the blessing of having both Fr. Barrow and Fr. Connors assigned here at OLM.

20180710-133811-ordination (2).JPG

In his homily at the Ordination Mass a couple of weeks ago, Bishop Tobin reminded the newly ordained priests, Fr. Silva and Fr. Rowley: “Without a doubt you will encounter difficulties and disappointments in your life and ministry. But in good times and in bad there must be something much deeper and much more profound than a superficial happiness. There must be a quiet, confident joy that underlines your life and your ministry as a priest. A joy born of the knowledge that you have been chosen by the Lord and that you are doing his work. And even in the midst of difficulties you have very, very good news to share with others.”

This week we celebrate this priestly joy and ministry at OLM. On Sunday, June 23rd, Fr. Connors marks his seventh anniversary of priesthood, on Monday, June 24th I mark 24 years of priesthood and on Thursday, June 27th, Fr. Barrow celebrates his fourth anniversary of ordination. I humbly ask for your prayers for our priestly ministry. May we priests continue to live the Bishop’s instruction given on the day of ordination: “Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord's cross.”

If you see a large group of smiling and happy children around OLM this week, then know you’ve discovered our Vacation Bible School! All week these children gather to pray and have fun while they learn more about their Catholic Faith and our Lord. We are grateful to our Youth Activities Coordinator, Billy Burdier, who has organized this great week for the parish children. VBS is always a great week of fun and faith at OLM! Enjoy the summer but please don’t not forget there is no vacation from going to Sunday Mass! God Bless! Be well. Do Good. Go Sox, please!!

Trinity Sunday, Three in One

Trinity Sunday, Three in One

Dear Parishioners:

web3-holy-trinity-painting-art-religious-father-son-holy-spirit-shutterstock_236732077-renata-sedmakova-shutterstock-846x423.jpg

With the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost comes the end of the Easter Season. The Easter Candle that has been so prominently displayed by the pulpit and lit for every Mass during the Easter Season is now returned to the baptistery. Now in this Season of Ordinary Time is lit only for baptisms and funerals. The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life — with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing. Ordinary Time, meaning ordered or numbered time, is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year.

We wear green vestments , the color of hope and growth. The Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, as a time to meditate upon the whole mystery of Christ – his life, miracles and teachings – in the light of his Resurrection.

28123249508_335799ec86_b.jpg

In a very real sense we must descend the great mountain peak of Easter in order to "pasture" in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time. As Sunday by Sunday, the Pilgrim Church marks her journey through ordinary time processing steadily through time toward eternity.

Of course, we also mark special feasts following Pentecost including today’s Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based, is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized. The feast of the Blessed Trinity is understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ. Only in heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ, to share as children in the very life of God.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the ninth century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth century by Pope John XXII. Worship of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout the liturgy. Constantly the Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy God who has so shown His mercy towards us and has given us to share in His life. Next Sunday we mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Corpus Christi is a Eucharistic solemnity and the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is the Church's official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord's passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. So our celebration of Corpus Christi really highlights the truly joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.

3342e1c482155ffb3d2cefab70e90090.jpg

We shall mark this great feast with a Solemn Procession of the Eucharist following the 10:30AM Mass. As we process from Mass to Mercy Park with the Eucharistic Lord, we gather in adoration and receive the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In the fourteenth century this custom of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in a splendid procession through the town after the Mass on Corpus Christi Day developed.

Also next Sunday at the 10:30AM we acknowledge several of our Senior Altar Servers as they graduate. They have been faithfully serving Holy Mass for as many as ten years or more. We take the time next Sunday to offer our gratitude and thanks for their service to God, Church and OLM. OLM School ended on Friday! Summer for our students and faculty has officially begun! East Greenwich Public Schools finish up this coming Wednesday! It’s hard to believe but schools out for the summer! So keep all our students and teachers in your prayers. May summer be a time to relax, reflect and renew and may God grant them health and happiness this summer! With summer vacations coming, let’s not forget that there is no vacation from Sunday Mass! God Bless! Be well. Do Good. Go Sox. Go Bruins!