Farwell to Summer Seminarian and Hello Backpack Drive!

Farwell to Summer Seminarian and Hello Backpack Drive!

Dear Parishioners:                  

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This is the final week for our Summer Seminarian Patrick Ryan.  Next Sunday his ten weeks with us at OLM ends!  Patrick will get a couple weeks off to spend time with his family before heading back to studies for the priesthood at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Providence College.  His time with us seems to have gone very quickly but very smoothly.  It has been great  to have Patrick at OLM over these ten weeks. 

I hope you have had a chance to meet him and talk with him. Patrick has another year of philosophy studies and then he will be assigned to a Major Seminary for theological studies. Over these ten weeks he has been tremendously helpful at the parish. He has worked with our school student and young people of our Youth Group, made visits to our many shut-ins, visited nursing homes, worked with the Legion of Mary, served Mass, worked at the Vacation Bible School, written excellent columns (be sure to read this week’s column!), and led committal services at St. Patrick Cemetery.

He has also spent considerable time working along side Fr. Barrow and myself. From learning about parish paperwork to coming to emergency calls at the hospital and nursing homes,  he’s had an excellent introduction into the life and ministry of a parish priest. Of course part of that introduction is getting to know and serve the parishioners of OLM and I thank you for your kindness in welcoming him to OLM!

Also part of Patrick’s introduction to parish life is living in a Rectory with priests.    He is excellent company and he likes to watch the Red Sox win!! In between theological and philosophical discussions with Fr Barrow and Fr Connors, I did manage to teach Patrick how to play Hi-Lo Jack!  Don’t worry he hasn’t taken up cigar smoking yet!

Next Sunday we will acknowledge his time with us at a “Farewell Reception” in Mercy Park following the 10:30am Mass. I hope you can stop by and offer Patrick your best wishes.  He is to be at all Masses next weekend so if you cannot make the reception please be sure to greet him after Mass. Keep him in your prayers as he continues his path to priesthood and please pray for more vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese of Providence.

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You may have read in the bulletin that OLM Outreach is once again helping the children of St. Patrick’s Parish and School with our Annual Back Pack Drive.  Beginning next weekend we are collecting school supplies.  A complete list of needed supplies is in the bulletin. Any donated supplies can be left in the bins in the vestibule or dropped off at the OLM Outreach  Office at Mercy House. 

You can also make financial donations to this effort with checks payable to “OLM” with “Backpack Drive” written in the memo. Any monetary donations can be put in an envelope and placed in the collection baskets at Masses or sent to the Parish Office. I am grateful to OLM Parishioners, Kathy Hall and Mary Anne Weaver, who are leading the drive again this year.  All of these much needed school supplies will be packed into backpacks and then  delivered to St. Patrick’s Church in Providence during the week of August 13th.

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Fr. James Ruggeri. the Pastor of St. Patrick Church, is always so grateful for the support of OLM.  His many parishioners and the students at St. Patrick’s School truly benefit greatly from your generous charity.  In their name, I thank you for your generous support of the Annual Backpack Drive.  Our OLM Outreach benefits so greatly from your generous weekly financial support as well as the weekly donations of food items for the Food Pantry. 

There is truly great need in our society of charitable support for the working poor and the impoverished.  They aren’t only at St. Patrick’s but  also in our local community who need support and assistance. Pope Francis consistently reminds the world with his prophetic message of serving the poor.  In one of his writings, he teaches  us: “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”

Thanks for your support of OLM Outreach. Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!

 

OLM Sisters Off to Pray, OLM Youth Off to Celebrate and OLM Priests Learning to be Better Confessors

OLM Sisters Off to Pray, OLM Youth Off to Celebrate and OLM Priests Learning to be Better Confessors

Dear Parishioners:                  

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Sister Lourdes, Sister Emma and the good sisters from Scalibrini Villa left early Tuesday morning for Nebraska. They are headed there for their Annual Retreat and Meetings of the Congregation of the Franciscan Apostolic Sisters.  They will be stopping in Peoria, Illinois to pick a few more sisters and then directly to Lincoln, Nebraska.

 St. Gregory the Great Seminary Chapel, Lincoln, Nebraska

St. Gregory the Great Seminary Chapel, Lincoln, Nebraska

They are spending the next few weeks of prayer, study and reflection at St. Gregory the Great Seminary where several of the FAS Sisters serve.  The retreat is to be led by Mother Marietta of the Poor Clare Sisters in the Philippines. Also Mother Josephine, the Superior of the Congregation, is joining them  from their Motherhouse in the Philippines.

The Franciscan Apostolic Sisters were founded in the Philippines in 1953 by an Italian Missionary Priest, the Franciscan Father Gerardo Filippetto, OFM. As consecrated women, the Sisters continue to live as their Father Founder taught them: to be humble servants reflecting Mary's presence and to be all in all in the service of everyone in the community and the Church.

I ask you to please pray for all the sisters during their  time of retreat and also for their safe travels.  The Sisters  return to OLM in late July. Mother Josephine and Mother Marietta are to visit us in early August.  May this truly be a fruitful time of spiritual renewal and rest.

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On Friday morning a  number of our OLM teens headed to the Steubenville East Conference this weekend in Lowell, Massachusetts.   They are joining thousands of young Catholics from across the Northeast for a faith-filled and joy-filled time of prayer and celebration. Fr. Barrow and our Summer Seminarian Patrick Ryan along with our OLM Youth Coordinator Billy Burdier and some adult chaperones are with the group.  It should be a terrific weekend of faith and fun. Please pray for them all as they spend the weekend celebrating Christ and His Church.  The group returns on Sunday evening.

This past week several hundred priests from across the nation gathered in Providence for the Annual Thomistic Institute. The Thomistic Institute is a work of the Dominican Friars which  promotes Catholic truth in our contemporary world by strengthening the intellectual formation of Christians at universities, in the Church, and in the wider public square. The thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Universal Doctor of the Church, is the foundation of their works. Each summer they sponsor a conference especially for priests. 

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This year’s conference was entitled, “Becoming a Better Confessor.” Over the course of three days there are lectures, holy hours, social hours and time for reflection.  The conference takes place at the McVinney Auditorium and the Cathedral with the guest clergy staying at the local Hilton.  It is a great opportunity for priests and a great privilege to have the Diocese of Providence host it. Fr. Barrow, Fr. Connors, and myself along with many priests from Providence and many other dioceses joined with many Dominican Friars this week in an effort to become better confessors!

Bishop Robert Reed, the Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, delivered the keynote address in which he stressed the importance of mercy and forgiveness in the life of a priest.  Other speakers  examined issues such as ministering to the addicted, those in irregular marriages and those with same sex attraction. Such notable speakers as Fr. Aquinas  Guilbeau, OP and Fr. George Rutler presented excellent talks. 

It was a very fruitful time for the priests gathered and a time of serious reflection. Also it was a time of great fraternity for priests.  In fact, I encountered a priest friend from Charleston, South Carolina I haven't’ seen in years who was in town for the conference.  We are grateful to the Dominican Friars for providing this great opportunity for priests and to Bishop Tobin for inviting them to hold the conference here in Providence.

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Now that we have studied how to be better confessors, you might wish to make your way to the Confessional Box this summer!  Confessions at OLM continue all summer long on Monday evenings at 6:00pm and Saturdays at 4:00pm.  Don’t take a vacation from God’s mercy and forgiveness. Come to Confession, it’s good for the soul!

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

 

Independence Day and Celebrating our Freedom

Independence Day and Celebrating our Freedom

Dear Parishioners:                  

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I hope you were able to celebrate the Fourth of July! It is always a great day to gather with family and friends for a cookout or watch the fireworks.  I was with my family at my sister’s home in Saratoga, New York for the holiday.  We had a great day celebrating our national independence!                                 

Of course, the Fourth of July is truly a day for us to reflect upon our freedoms.  We enjoy many freedoms here in our land that others across the globe do not.  Freedom and liberty can easily be taken for granted, so let us remember to give thanks to God for our freedom and never take for granted the liberty we enjoy.

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Last week I read an article from NBC News that examined the state of politics in Rhode Island. Its premise was that the Ocean State is the last bastion for elected Democrats who are pro-life.  It also examined the effort by the so-called “progressives” to oust pro-life state representatives and senators from office. The central issue for these “progressives” is abortion.  Progress for them is expanding abortion on demand and funding  it with taxpayer dollars.  The article states: “Rhode Island received an ‘F’ grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2016 and has a General Assembly run almost entirely by Right to Life-backed Democrats.”

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It’s perhaps the only time an “F” is a good grade!  Yet we must remain vigilant in the face of renewed efforts to expand abortion and oust pro-life politicians. These efforts are well organized and well funded by national groups.  The article also suggests that the Catholic Church has too much influence in curtailing abortion legislation. 

Yet a recent Gallup National Poll determined that Americans (48%) still believe abortion (the direct killing of an unborn baby) is morally wrong, while 43 percent believe it is morally acceptable. Perhaps  it is the case that many people including  elected officials s believe that abortion is morally wrong. If the Church has had some influence it may be in helping people including politicians understand that all human life is sacred and should be protected and respected in law.

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The reason abortion seems to dominate the headlines is because the pro-abortion lobby’s relentless pursuit of its agenda.. Under the guise of “women’s issues”, Planned Parenthood and the National Organization of Women  are tireless in trying  to expand abortion in RI.   They and their elected allies in the General Assembly continue to seek the public financing of abortion and advance the passage of radical abortion legislation.

We know that Catholic teaching on the respect for human dignity and sanctity of human life is not limited to abortion. In fact, it  proclaims that all human life is sacred and that the dignity of every human person is  the foundation of a moral vision for our society. This fundamental belief guides our advocacy on behalf of human life and human dignity. Our social teaching calls us to  vigilantly advocate for the rights of not only the unborn but also for family life, for immigrants and refugees, for the dying and terminally ill, for   the elderly and the poor and on behalf of justice and peace.

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In Ireland  they recently changed the Irish Constitution and legalized abortion. Now the Prime Minister has announced that  Catholic hospitals must  be required to perform abortions. And no exemption from this grave moral evil is possible. This situation in Ireland is precisely why we remain vigilant in advocating  for the sanctity of human life and    the dignity of the human person. Secular governments and radical activists are not simply vigilant in advancing their  agenda but they are in fact relentless!

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So as we remember the freedoms we enjoy in the USA, let us also remember we are called to be faithful citizens.  Each one of us has a duty and obligation to be civically engaged but also to proclaim our Catholic faith in the public square and advocate for life and dignity. The abortion lobby gave RI an “F” but we must remain relentless in our public advocacy as Catholics. As the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “A religion that doesn’t interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.” 

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

 

Summer is a Time for Rest, Renewal and Reading

Summer is a Time for Rest, Renewal and Reading

Dear Parishioners:                   

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             Despite the weather last Saturday, our OLM Youth Group had their cookout! Of course, it was really a cook-in at OLM School Gym.  We are grateful to all those who supported our youth with their presence while enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs.  Also I extend my thanks to the many parishioners who financially supported the Youth Group’s effort to raise funds for their pilgrimage in July to the Steubenville East Conference.

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Monday brought much better weather and the beginning of our OLM Vacation Bible School.  Lots of our parish children spent this past week learning more about the Lord, our Blessed Mother, the Church and their Catholic Faith.  It was a fun-filled and faith-filled week.  I am grateful to OLM Youth Coordinator Billy Burdier who organized this great event.  Also we thank our many volunteers and staff who helped all week long. We are in the midst of summer and the Fourth of July is this week!  Many parishoners are heading on vacations, others to their summer homes and others making the daytrips of the season.  Summer is always a time to try to relax, recreate and refresh.

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The question, “How are you?”, is so often answered with “Busy.”  Yet, many times we don’t have to be quite as busy as we schedule ourselves to be.  Though there is great importance and dignity in the work we do, we often forget that there is also value in rest.

Our on-the-go culture makes it difficult to see the necessity of taking the time to rest.  We might even be considered lazy or unmotivated when we do reserve time for relaxation.  However, not pausing amidst our chaotic life to take a break can lead to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual problems.

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God knew we would need time to replenish ourselves. He set the example by resting Himself on the seventh day of creation.  Follow His lead.  If you cannot take time in the summer to get away from work than at the very minimum, set aside time on Sundays to kick back and relax in these days of summer.  St. Augustine reminds us: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds it rest in You.”

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It’s summer so please do take some time to rest and refresh whether its away, at the beach, at a park, on a golf course or in the backyard! However, this time of rest isn’t meant to lead us away from God but rather draw us closer to Him. Don’t take a rest from attending Sunday Mass or striving to lead a life of virtue and faith. If you’re traveling  this summer check out Masstimes.org to find where you can go to Sunday Mass. Mass is celebrated in all fifty states and in nearly every country in the world!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI  has suggested that : “Even amid the ‘busy-ness’ and stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self.  And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for building up His Church and the redemption of our world.” 

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One way I relax in the summer is to do some extra summer reading.  This summer I am reading Dagger John by John Loughery.  It is the new biography of Archbishop John Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York.  It has gotten great reviews in the press.   Also I plan some spiritual reading with a new book entitled, Holiness In A Secular Age: The Witness of Cardinal Newman.  Blessed John Newman lived in an age not unlike our  own and this book offers his example and insights on how to live as a disciple amid an increasingly secular culture. And just for fun I plan to read a couple of the  Bruno, the French Police Chief detective series. Written by Martin Walker they are set in rural France. I have read a few before and they are thoroughly enjoyable, easy reads especially on a warm and sunny day on the beach or by the pool with a good cigar!

On Wednesday we celebrate our nation’s independence!  The Fourth of July is truly a day to celebrate our freedom and liberty and to give thanks to God for the blessings and bounty of our nation. May this great land  always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Happy 4th of July! Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!  Enjoy summer!!

 

Celebrating Priesthood, Cookouts and Bible School!  It's June at OLM!!!

Celebrating Priesthood, Cookouts and Bible School! It's June at OLM!!!

Dear Parishioners:                 

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Last Saturday night our Summer Seminarian, Patrick Ryan, and myself attended Mass at Portsmouth Abbey.  The Mass was celebrated by Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York who also delivered an address at the dinner that followed.  This was part of the Annual Portsmouth Institute which this year examined “Faith, Family and Civilization.” 

An apostolate of the Benedictine monastic communities of Portsmouth and Saint Louis Abbeys, the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture is a center for Catholic scholarship and evangelization. It explores Catholic thought and promotes Christian culture by examining    the connection between faith and reason, religion and public life. It annually holds a conference in June. Cardinal Dolan delivered an outstanding talk at the dinner which featured some of his trademark humor.  His insights into the family life and the Church in our contemporary culture were excellent. It was a great evening and the Cardinal provided much food for thought for the large crowd gathered at the event.

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This Saturday night our OLM Youth Group are hosting a cookout in Mercy Park!  Hamburgers, cheese burgers and hot dogs are to be served and tickets can be purchased at the event. We thank the many parishioners who bought tickets last weekend and are joining us.  This cookout is a fundraiser for the OLM Youth Group who are attending the huge Steubenville East Conference this July.  The funds raised help defray the cost of the conference, lodging and transportation.  I thank those parishioners who generously sponsored some of our youth group for this pilgrimage.  If you are interested in sponsoring a teen for the pilgrimage, please contact me at the Parish Office. The OLM Youth Group chose to celebrate the priesthood for their cookout.  We are grateful for their recognition of their parish priests. 

Fr. Connors celebrates six years of priesthood on Saturday, June 23rd.  I celebrate twenty-three years of priesthood on Sunday, June 24th.  Fr. Barrow celebrates six years of priesthood on Wednesday, June 27th.  And Bishop Evans celebrates forty-five years of priesthood on July 2nd! As Billy Burdier, our OLM Youth Activities Coordinator, mentioned last weekend at Masses, that is over 75 years of priestly service.  It seems just like yesterday that I was ordained by Bishop Gelineau at the Cathedral.  In the name of my brother priests, we thank our OLM Youth Group for their recognition of our priesthood and prayers.

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Next Saturday Bishop Tobin is to ordain Transitional Deacon Phillip Dufor as a priest of the Diocese of Providence.  Deacon Dufor has been studying at the North American College in Rome and after ordination is to return to complete his studies.  The Ordination Mass is Saturday, June 30th at 10:00am at the Cathedral in Providence.  Everyone is most welcome to attend the Mass which is always a very joyful, beautiful and solemn occasion.  Please keep our newest priest of Providence  in your prayers.

You may have read in last week’s edition of the R.I. Catholic that Bishop Tobin announced that he has, in conformity with the Code of Canon Law and the Priest Personnel Policy of the Diocese of Providence, appointed twenty-three pastors to a new six year term effective July 1, 2018.  I am happy to report that I was one of those twenty-three pastors. At the end of this month, I mark the end of my first six year term as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church.

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It has been a truly wonderful six years serving as pastor to this great parish with such committed, faithful, and joyful parishioners.  I continue to thank God for the blessing that OLM has been to my priestly life and I pray that my pastorate may always be faithful, joyful and fruitful. 

On Monday morning we begin our OLM Vacation Bible School.  It runs every day all week and is a fantastic opportunity for our parish children to learn about Christ and His Church. It is a week of fun and faith!  We look forward to seeing the many children here at OLM each morning  Keep them in your prayers. It’s summer!

If you’re traveling away this summer check out Masstimes.org to find where you can go to Sunday Mass. Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox! 

 

Graduations, Cookouts, Father's Day and Vacation Bible School!  It's Summertime at OLM!!

Graduations, Cookouts, Father's Day and Vacation Bible School! It's Summertime at OLM!!

Dear Parishioners:                  

With the sound of the Blue Angels overhead all last weekend, we celebrated the OLM School Class of 2018.  On Sunday the graduates of our 8th Grade joined us at 10:30am Mass.  Each of the graduates received the specially designed Our Lady of Mercy Medal which serves as a reminder of their years of study but also a symbol of their patroness. 

 The OLM School Class of 2018

The OLM School Class of 2018

On Monday night the thirty-one graduates who are listed in this weeks’ bulletin gathered for the OLM School Graduation Ceremony.  Most of these graduates spent over 8 years in our parish school.  We thank their parents and families for their support and the sacrifice they make for a Catholic Education for their children.  As Cardinal Dolan of New York says so often, a Catholic Education is “the pearl of great price.” These young men and women now head off to the rigors of high school and we continue to pray for them. 

We also offer our prayerful congratulations to all those who graduated from East Greenwich High School, our Catholic High Schools and other high schools this June.  They now prepare for the challenges of university life.  And finally our best wishes to our many OLM parishioners who graduated college and graduate school this year.  May God bless them all! 

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Last Saturday night there was a whole lot of OLM School talent on display at E.G. High School Auditorium.  The students put on a production of “Mary Poppins.”  Bishop Evans, Fr. Barrow, our Summer Seminarian Patrick, Sisters Lourdes and Emma and myself had great seats for the play.  It was an outstanding performance by our students with great singing and dancing!  Kudos to our student actors and actresses and all those who helped produce the performance!

Each summer the Franciscan University of Steubenville organizes  a series of conferences across North America that help teens encounter the love of Christ and renew their Catholic Faith. The  mission of these Youth Conferences is to build the Church by evangelizing, equipping, and empowering God’s children to become radical and joyful disciples. The Steubenville East Conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell takes place in late July.  Thousands of Catholic teens from across the region  gather together for this great weekend of faith and formation.

 Steubenville East Youth Conference.

Steubenville East Youth Conference.

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Our OLM Youth Group under the direction of our Youth Activities Coordinator, Billy Burdier, is planning on attending this great event along with Fr. Barrow and our Summer Seminarian Patrick. Next Saturday evening following the 5:00PM Mass the OLM Youth Group is hosting a Cookout in Mercy Park. They are hoping to raise money to defray the expenses of their  travel and lodging at the event.  Members of the Youth Group are selling tickets after Masses this weekend for the cookout.  If you want to support the youth of our parish, join us for a hamburger or hot dog next Saturday at Mercy Park!

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We continue to take registrations for the OLM Vacation Bible School which is scheduled for June 25th through the 29th.  If your child or grandchild is interested in having a fun filled week learning more about their Catholic Faith, register soon! There are details in the bulletin. This Sunday is Fathers Day, a day in which  we honor  Fathers.  In a special way we pray for all Fathers at Sunday Masses as we remember all living and deceased Fathers.   

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The worthy example of Fatherhood for all Fathers is St. Joseph. He was a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart he had deep love and great tenderness. Such love and tenderness   is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Pope Francis, our Holy Father, reflecting on Fatherhood says:  “Being a father is not easy since it takes lots of patience and grace, Nothing could better express the pride and emotion a father feels when he understands that he has handed down to his child what really matters in life, that is, a wise and gentle heart. It is a joy that rewards all the toil, that overcomes every mistake and heals every wound.”

A Happy Fathers Day to all Fathers! May God our Loving Father, guide and protect you all and bestow his choicest blessings upon you!

Hope to see you at the Youth Group Cookout! Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!