Confirmation at OLM and Retreating for Renewal

Confirmation at OLM and Retreating for Renewal

Dear Parishioners:

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We rejoice this weekend as a parish and a Church as we celebrate the Confirmation of 71 of our young parishioners. We welcome Bishop Spalding of Nashville, Tennessee who has traveled here to celebrate the Confirmation Mass. Pray for these young men and women as they are sealed in the Holy Spirit.

Too often confirmation is seen as a kind of “graduation from formation.” Having attended RE Classes since the first grade, they are finally, officially “done.” Formation in the faith takes a lifetime and never ends. Confirmation is a beginning not an end. As these young Catholic adults begin their high school years they do so with the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

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We encourage their sponsors for Confirmation to understand that they are charged to be a witness of Christ’s love, if not for the whole world at least for the candidate. So, we pray and hope that these sponsor, don’t treat confirmation day like graduation. Their task has just begun. Be a light to the nations, starting with the teen upon whose shoulder, your hand has rested. We also hope and pray that these newly Confirmed continue to stay close to Christ by faithfully attending Mass, seeking his mercy and forgiveness in Confession and through pray. In the coming weeks we will invite all these newly Confirmed to consider taking up a ministry at OLM. We hope some of them might choose to serve as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Religious Education Teachers, Ushers or Adult Choir Members. They are an important part of the life of our parish and we hope they commit to serving their parish. Please pray for them that they may continue to grow in the faith, knowledge and love of God.

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The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church states that all priests are “bound to make time for spiritual retreats." This is to be a time of prayer and reflection away from the parish at a monastery or retreat house. It is meant be a time of spiritual renewal far from the world and from parish duties. It isn’t mean to be a holiday or a time of leisure. Retreats are a time to, as the name implies, get away from your ordinary activities and spend a period of time trying to stand shoulder to shoulder with Christ, and look at your life from the outside, from his perspective. I encourage everyone to make a retreat at least once a year. It doesn’t have to be a week but perhaps a day or two. It is a time of refreshment and renewal in the Lord! Try it, you might just like it.

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Fr. Barrow made his Annual Retreat this past week at Arnold Hall in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Arnold Hall Retreat and Conference Center opened in 1964, thanks to the good work and faith of Fr. Joseph Musquiz . He was a Spanish Priest who came to the U.S. in 1949 to begin Opus Dei activities here, and who was dedicated to the spiritual renewal and growth of God’s people. His cause for canonization has been introduced by the Church.

I made a retreat at Arnold Hall last November and found it an outstanding location and a truly powerful time of spiritual renewal. This coming week I once again return there to make my own Annual Retreat beginning on Monday. I ask for your prayers for me during this week of retreat as I promise you my prayers for you and your intentions. I intend to offer daily Mass for all of you. Please pray that these Retreats are a time of renewal of the spiritual life and priestly zeal for Fr. Barrow and myself. As St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei reminds us: “ You go to pray; to become a bonfire, a living flame, giving light and heat.

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This Sunday we mark Veterans Day. It is a day that invites us to pause for a moment and reflect with thanksgiving on the lives of men and women who respond and responded to the needs of our Nation. We thank all veterans for their service. As George Washington said: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.

Congratulations to the newly Confirmed. Welcome Bishop Spalding! Be well. Do good. God Bless. Happy Veterans Day! Go Pats!!!

Prayer in the Face of Tragedy, Hope for the Future

Prayer in the Face of Tragedy, Hope for the Future

Dear Parishioners:


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Last week’s attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is the cause of deep sadness and pain. This attack upon people of faith gathered to pray and celebrate the birth of a child and also upon police officers responding to the ensuing violence with no concern for their own safety should be condemned by all.

Anti-Semitism is also to be condemned along with our repudiation of all hatred, bigotry and violence. Let us stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this time of great distress. Let us pray for all those impacted by this terrible tragedy: “May God grant peace to the dead, healing to the injured, and comfort to the families of those hurt and killed and His peace to all the Jewish Community.”

On Tuesday this week our nation will mark Election Day. It is a day in which Americans vote for the leaders of our federal, state and local governments. As Catholics, we believe that “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” Therefore, I urge you as a responsible citizen and faithful Catholic to vote on Tuesday.

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As Catholics we are called to be a voice that is concerned with the dignity of all persons, the protection of the most vulnerable, and the common good of society. On Tuesday, November 6, we have the opportunity to be that voice by voting for candidates who reflect our values. Pray and reflect before you cast your vote and vote using your informed Catholic conscience. Pray too for all candidates for public office and for our nation on Election Day. This week our new Altar Servers begin their service at God’s holy altar.

After a week of training, these ten new servers now begin to serve both Daily and Weekend Masses over the next month. We thank them for their willingness to serve our parish and God. They join the many other OLM Altar Servers who do a tremendous job! Keep them in your prayers.

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Last week I was privileged to visit the St. Cecilia Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Nashville, Tennessee. This past summer one of our own OLM Parishioners, Sister Laura Makin, entered the community. My visit with these good and holy sisters was truly joyful and edifying. The Nashville Dominicans are a thriving community of religious sisters. They are full of faith and joy and offer a wonderful witness of hope for our Church. A young and growing community, there are over 300 sisters in the congregation. I wish to thank Mother Anna Grace Neenan, OP, who was so gracious in allowing my visit with the sisters. Please pray for these sisters as I know they are certainly praying for us.

I am grateful to Bishop Mark Spalding of Nashville who arranged the visit with the Sisters and who was a most gracious host during my brief stay in Nashville. On All Saints and All Souls Day, I was honored to concelebrate and serve as the homilist at Masses at the Cathedral. Bishop Spalding is a dear friend and classmate from the seminary. He was just made bishop last February and it was my first chance to visit with him since that time.

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He is coming to OLM next Sunday to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation Mass is next Sunday at 5:00PM as 71 of our young adults receive the Sacrament. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized person is "sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" and is strengthened for service to the Body of Christ. Confirmation is not the end, it is only the beginning of a life committed to Christ and His Church.

So I ask you to continue to pray for these young men and women as they prepare for this milestone in their lives as Catholic Disciples. May it be the beginning of a deeper relationship with Christ and may they heed the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XV: “The Church has confidence in you and she thanks you for the joy and energy that you contribute. Generously put your talents to use in the service of the proclamation of the Gospel! We know that the Holy Spirit is granted to those who open their hearts to this proclamation. And do not be afraid: Jesus, the Savior of the world, is with us every day until the end of time (cf. Mt 28:20).”

Congrats to the Red Sox on winning the World Series, it was a great victory! Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Pats!!!

Celebrating November with All the Saints and All Souls

Celebrating November with All the Saints and All Souls

Dear Parishioners:

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We begin the month of November this Thursday with the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for all Catholics and we celebrate four Masses. All Saints Day is day on which we commemorate all the saints both the known and the unknown. The Catholic Church also dedicates the entire month of November to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

On Friday, we commemorate All Souls Day as we pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. We celebrate three Masses and after the 9:00AM Mass we process to our parish cemetery, St. Patrick’s, to pray for the souls at rest in that sacred ground. I ask that you return your All Souls Day envelopes with the names of your beloved dead prior to Friday so they might be remembered on All Souls Day.

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The Church teaches us that praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy. The greatest prayer we could ever offer for the dead is the prayer of the Mass. At Mass we unite our own personal prayers — those emanating from our lips, our hearts, even our bodies in all types of actions of loving sacrifice for others — to Christ’s own prayer in the Mass. The Mass is the continuous, saving sacrifice once-and-for-all begun during the Last Supper and finished on the Cross.

Pope Francis teaches us: “Church tradition has always urged prayer for the dead, in particular by offering the celebration of the Eucharist for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones. The foundation of prayers in suffrage of souls is in the communion of the Mystical Body.”

This communion as the Mystical Body of Christ is expressed most powerfully at Mass. Therefore, over the centuries the Church has venerated the practice of praying for the dead at Mass. The Church continues to have Masses offered for a particular loved one as well as praying, in every Eucharistic prayer, for all those “who have gone before us with the sign of faith.”

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The All Souls envelopes with the names of your beloved dead are remembered at Masses in November. The Masses celebrated for deceased loved ones throughout the month of November is truly a an act of love, charity and faith. We hope and pray that others continue this tradition of faith and charity after we’ve gone to our eternal reward. This work of mercy is very much honored at OLM. Many parishioners never let an anniversary of death, birthday, or wedding anniversary go by without praying at Mass for the repose of the soul of a loved one. Some Catholics routinely have Masses offered for the forgotten souls in Purgatory. These are profoundly humble, Catholic and wise acts

In addition to having Masses offered for the dead, I urge you to pray daily in November this prayer of St. Gertrude. She was a great 13th century Benedictine nun and mystic, to whom Jesus had revealed this prayer promising that every time it was devoutly prayed it would help 1,000 souls in Purgatory:

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“Eternal Father, I offer you the most precious blood of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my own family. Amen.”

We invite you to join with us next Sunday, November 4th at the 10:30AM Mass as we remember those parishioners of OLM who have died over this past year. All those faithful souls who we’ve laid to rest will be prayed for at the Mass. We have invited their grieving families to join us at this special Mass of Remembrance. I ask you to please pray for the gentle repose of their souls and the consolation of their family.

Please note that beginning next Saturday, November 3rd, the 5:00PM Mass moves back to 4:00PM on Saturdays until April. Also Confessions now begin at 3:00PM. Mark your calendars and spread the word! In November please pray for the dead as it is a spiritual work of mercy. Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them. Don’t forget to attend Mass on the All Saints Holy Day.

Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Sox! Go Pats!!! See you on Monday at our final October Devotions!

Proclaim the Truth, Every Life is Sacred!

Proclaim the Truth, Every Life is Sacred!

ear Parishioners:                   

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The month of October is annually observed by the Catholic Church in the United States as Respect Life Month. We are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.   Last Monday we offered our October Devotions for the increased respect of all human life and dignity.  For the Church, there is no distinction between defending human life and promoting the dignity of the human person.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes in his encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate: "The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that 'a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.'"

As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. The life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights. It must  lead all faithful Catholics to actively work for a world of greater respect for human life  and dignity and to strive for a greater commitment to justice and peace.  The Gospel of Life should guide us and lead us. 

This fundamental truth of our teaching cannot be changed and certainly is not a matter of popularity or polling.  Last Sunday’s Providence Journal released a poll that suggested a majority of Catholics support the efforts by abortionists and their allies to expand abortion law in Rhode Island.  Such a poll is actually rather meaningless when it comes to fundamental Church teaching and the truth of the Gospel of Life.

The Ten Commandments, the Teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church are not  meant to be polled to see which are the most popular.  If moral truths are matter of polling or popularity then there would be no moral truth!  Let’s be very clear that the direct killing of innocent unborn children by abortion is always evil and a grave moral sin.  This truth is unchangeable whether the Providence Journal polls otherwise or not!

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I spoke with a parishioner who was polled by the Journal for last Sunday’s article. He suggested that the question on abortion was rather general and  misleading.  The truth of the matter is that the legislation being proposed by the abortion lobby and their allies is a radical bill that does much more than codify the US Supreme Court Decision, Roe v. Wade.

The proposed legislation would allow for the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion, deregulate the abortion mills and provide your tax dollars to pay for abortion on demand.  The question in the poll did not include a full or accurate description of the proposed legislation.  It seems the Providence Journal is more interested in manufacturing news than reporting it! 

Not reported in the Providence Journal were the recent remarks of Pope Francis. At his General Audience in Rome last week,  he reflected on the 5th Commandment “Thou shall not kill.” He stated: “The ‘he’ or ‘she’ that one presents as a problem, is, in reality, a gift from God, which can make me come out of my egocentrism and make me grow in love.”

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The Pope decried “the suppression of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights.” He compared abortion to the hiring of a Mafia assassin to kill someone, asking: “But how can an act that ‘does away’ with innocent and defenseless life in its origin be therapeutic, civil or simply human? I pose the question to you: Is it right to do away with a human life to resolve a problem? One cannot,” it’s not right ’to do away’ with a human being, although small, to resolve a problem.”

In this Respect Life Month of October let us pray our rosaries for an increase of respect for human life and dignity. As we prepare for election day in November let us  pray for candidates who believe in the right to life especially for the innocent and vulnerable of our society. Our Lady of Life, pray for us!

Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Sox! Go Pats!!! See you on Monday at Devotions!

 

Living Faith at OLM

Living Faith at OLM

Dear Parishioners:

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Last week we sent in our Annual Report of Sacramental Statistics to the Diocese of Providence. Each year we compile the number of sacraments administered at OLM along with the number people attending Masses and enrolled in Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs.

We currently have 2,047 families registered at OLM with a total of 6,900 parishioners. This is a decrease from last year by 40 families. Of course, registered at OLM is a rather broad term. It includes anyone who registered and has not indicated they’ve left the parish. About half the registered families with a total of 1,370 receive the weekly budget envelopes. Only slightly more than 500 parish families actually contribute with either the weekly budget envelope or through online giving (EFT).

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Nearly 100 faithful souls attend our daily 7:30am Mass with about 1,200 total coming to Mass on weekends. This number has remained consistent in the last few years. Some Masses are better attended than others. This year we baptized 42 infants into the Catholic Faith which is an increase from last year’s 36 baptized babies. Also another 8 children were baptized this year. Overall most parishes report a growing decrease in baptisms as couples seem to be having less children and many others choosing not to practice any type of religion,

We had 65 young children receive First Holy Communion last May. This is a decrease from the 82 the previous year. Again this is part of a growing trend in our state as there are less and less children being born and/or raised with religious faith. We had 87 young adults Confirmed in the Catholic Faith last October. This is an increase by one over the previous year. In addition, we had another 8 adults confirmed in the faith including one adult who was baptized a Catholic and two others who converted to the Catholic Faith last year.

Twenty-one young couples received the Sacrament of Marriage at OLM last year. This is a very large increase from the previous year when only 9 couples were married at OLM. Of course, these numbers are also reflective of the societal trend of less couples getting married at all or getting married in a Church.

We gave the Sacrament of the Sick to 85 people last year. Over thirty of these anointings were done as the person was dying. And we continue to get many people coming to Confession at OLM both on Saturday afternoons and Monday nights.

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We laid to rest 58 souls last year at OLM. Most of these deceased parishioners received a Mass of Christian Burial. However, some had family members choose to have either a funeral home service or graveside prayers only. This is a troubling trend as people who do not practice the Catholic Faith choose not to have their loved ones receive a Mass of Christian Burial even when the deceased ar faithful Mass goers. Every Catholic by virtue of their baptism is due the dignity and honor of a Mass of Christian Burial. May they rest in peace and may eternal light shine upon them.

The statistical report indicates that the faith is still very much alive and well at OLM. Many people continue to come to Mass and receive the Sacraments of the Church. Of course, there is always room for growth and improvement. We know many of our neighbors and family members do not practice their Catholic Faith on a regular basis.

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So help us evangelize at OLM. Invite a friend or family member to attend Mass with you. If you know someone is sick or is having surgery, call the priests so we can give them the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know a young couple who are getting married, invite them to consider a Sacramental Wedding at OLM rather than a ceremony on a beach in Aruba!

We offer a fond farewell to our OLM Soloist, Deirdre Donovan, this weekend as she retires from Church singing. We shall miss her beautiful voice uplifting us to God each week at Mass. God’s blessing upon her.

October is for Mary and the Rosary. Join us for Devotions on Mondays at 7:00pm. This Monday we offer our Rosary for an increase of respect for all human life. Take some time and join us in prayer. Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Sox! Go Pats!!! See you on Monday at Devotions!

When We Sing, We Pray Twice

When We Sing, We Pray Twice

Dear Parishioners:

 The OLM Childrens Choir under the direction of Deirdre Donovan.

The OLM Childrens Choir under the direction of Deirdre Donovan.

For the last few years we’ve heard the beautiful voice of our talented soloist, Deirdre Donavan, at Mass. Recently she took on a full-time job teaching music in public school. So after twenty-two years singing at weekend Masses at Catholic parishes, she informed me that she intends to “retire” from being a Church Soloist. Next weekend is to be her final weekend singing at OLM. It is of course a bitter-sweet time for us at OLM. We shall miss her voice and talent that has added so much to our worship of God at Holy Mass. But we can appreciate that she might like to spend more time with her husband and family on weekends!

In your name, I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Deirdre for her service to OLM. We wish her well on her future endeavors and the blessings of God! In this time of transition for our music program, our talented Music Director, Henri St. Louis will continue to play and sing at Masses along with the OLM Choir. Also we will continue to the great work begun by Deirdre with our Children’s Choir. We thank Henri and our Choir members for continuing to share their time and talent in lifting up our worship of Almighty God!

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The goal for Sacred Music, or anything at Mass should never be “us’ or “me.” Let us not think so much about ourselves but on the contrary, we should conform our lives to God. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Doctor of the Church said: “All things are in God as their first model.”

Pope Pius XII in his encyclical, Musicae sacrae disciplina, beautifully summarized the role of sacred music. He taught: "Thus, at the instance and under the sponsorship of the Church, sacred music, through the course of centuries, has traversed a long road by which, though sometimes slowly and laboriously, it has finally reached the heights: from the simple and natural Gregorian modes, which are, moreover, quite perfect in their kind, to great and even magnificent works of art which not only human voices, but also the organ and other musical instruments embellish, adorn and amplify almost endlessly.”

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He who sings,” said St. Augustine, “prays twice.” The holy Bishop of Hippo meant that singing adds to our praise and worship of God—that our voices are gifts, with which we can make music to the Lord. Sung prayer expresses the joy of the heart, the happiness resulting from one who has encountered Jesus Christ and experienced his love. Sung prayer reminds us of the choirs of heaven, with whom we are called to praise God eternally in heaven.

The Second Vatican Council taught that, “liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people.” When the sacred liturgy is sung, it becomes more beautiful, and more reflective of the beauty of the Most Blessed Trinity.

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Christians have sung in sacred liturgy since the Church’s earliest days. And the Jewish people have sung praise to God, in the context of holy worship, for thousands of years. The Psalms are the record of the liturgical song-prayers of the Jewish people. When we sing in the context of Holy Mass, we join a tradition of sacred worship that goes back to at least the time of King David himself. “Let us come before him with a song of praise,” wrote King David, “joyfully sing out our psalms.”

When we sing, we experience God’s presence in a new way. Pope St. John Paul prayed that every Catholic, by “expressing their faith harmoniously and solemnly in song, will experience its richness ever more fully and will abide by the commitment to express its impulses in their daily life.” St. Augustine was right—he who sings prays twice. May we sing together in holy worship, and our homes in praise and thanksgiving for all that God has given us.

Thank you to the many parishioners who have given to the Annual Parish Collection thus far. It’s off to a good start but we still have not heard from many other parishioners yet. Please put your Annual Collection donation in the basket or send it by mail. Thanks for the support!

October is for Mary and the Rosary. Join us on Mondays at 7:00pm. Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Sox! Go Pats!!!