Dear Parishioners: I hope you had a happy and joyful Christmas.  It certainly was celebrated here at Our Lady of Mercy with abundant joy and great solemnity.  We had large crowds, joyful music, beautiful decorations and solemn celebrations at all of our Masses.  It was truly a worthy celebration for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated hard work of so many volunteers.  In your name, I thank all of those who helped to ensure Christmas was celebrated so worthily at Our Lady of Mercy Church.  We thank Celia Franzone and her band of decorators for making it beautiful.  We thank Brother Roger and all of the choir members and choristers for making it joyful.  We thank the Altar Servers, Lectors, Ministers, Sacristans and Ushers for making it prayerful.

The Christmas Season is still here and I hope you continue to celebrate it with beauty, joy and prayer. For as Isaiah proclaimed: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”  May we continue to shine that light brightly in our words and deeds especially during this holy season of Christmas!

We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family this weekend.  I always find this feast an important part of the Christmas celebration.  At Christmas we gather with family and we remember family members who have gone on to eternal life.  The Feast of the Holy Family serves as reminder of the importance of family life for us.  The bonds of love that unite a family are part of celebrating Christmas.  rest-of-the-holy-22

The Feast of the Holy Family marks a time to honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph who are real flesh and blood figures of faith, hope and love. It is also an occasion to consider the holiness inherent in domestic life. Jesus was born into a family who nurtured, protected, taught, and raised him to adulthood. Although we know little about his life as a youth, it is not hard to picture him doing the same things any well-loved child would do – playing games, learning to read, helping with household chores, interacting with family, neighbors, and townspeople. Through it all, Mary and Joseph are there to model what it means to live by faith and to illustrate what makes a family holy.

So let us pray for all families especially those that face the pain of separation or divorce.  May Jesus, Mary and Joseph, intercede for all families and help all to grow in love and deepen the bonds of unity.  May we all grow in the holiness that the Holy Family offer us in such a wonderful example

This week we also begin a New Year, 2013!  On the Church Calendar New Year’s is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  It is a holy day of obligation for Catholics.  But isn’t going to Mass actually the best way to welcome the New Year anyway?  The Holy Day Mass schedule is in the bulletin and I hope you  join us as we honor the Mother of God and prayerfully welcome in a New Year.

I wish to express my gratitude to the Hill Funeral Home for the beautiful parish calendars they sponsored for Our Lady of Mercy.  Their generosity in providing us this great service of a parish calendar with the highlights of the Church Year  is greatly appreciated.  Thank them if you get the chance.

Of course, the New Year means a new session for the R.I. General Assembly and I resume my duties as the Director of the R.I. Catholic Conference. New Year’s Day  the Assembly officially opens its legislative session.  This year there is a very serious threat that they will attempt to redefine the bedrock of our culture, marriage between one man and one woman.  The very powerful and well financed same-sex marriage lobby is pushing their agenda with a renewed energy this year.

It appears that this issue tops the agenda of the R.I. House of Representatives as they return to Smith Hill.  You can help with your prayers and also expressing your opposition to your elected officials.  The traditional definition of marriage in our state is under threat so please help preserve it.              New Year’s also brings with it new blessings as well as burdens.  I pray your blessings are many and your burdens few.  Happy New Year! God Bless.