WHAT IS DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY?
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the year 2000, the Church established the second Sunday after Easter as the Divine Mercy Sunday. This Feast of Mercy was not someone’s invention, but it comes from Jesus himself. Researching about the feast day, I came across a very simple explanation from the Marians of Immaculate Conception (the congregation that cares for the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge). It says, “The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.” Then they add “The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:
A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
RESTORATION OF THE CHURCH
We could not have imagined what happened to our Church on January 20th, 2019. The fire was devastating and caused much more damage than we originally thought. This is not the first time our Church has suffered a catastrophic loss. In 1869, the Church was hit by lightning causing extensive damage. The steeple of the church was toppled by the 1938 New England Hurricane.
The parishioners of Immaculate Conception Parish are a dedicated and generous group of people. We have come together in our temporary home in the lower Church. But it's time to continue our preparations to return to our home in the upper Church. We are fortunate that the insurance will cover all the fire related damage and we have the opportunity to address other vitally important aspects of the church in a cost-effective manner. For instance, using the scaffolding for other improvements while the insurance restoration proceeds saves us a lot of money. Delaying these much needed projects would only cost us more money in the future.
We have identified the following needs:
Pew Restoration – Over the last 50 years, the pews have been subject to the accumulation of dirt, grease, oils, and other debris. Periodic cleaning has helped maintain the appearance but it also sealed in some of the debris with the application of polishes and cleaners. We have the opportunity to refinish the pews and re-align the spacing to make more comfortable and bring the access into compliance with current safety requirements.
Flooring-Current titles are buckling and must be replaced. In addition to posing a trip hazard, the buckling tiles allow for water to penetrate through the seams and could damage the subfloor and Lower Church below. With the pews removed, this is the time to replace them so there is no future disruption. A few years ago, Fr. Michael replaced some tiles to try to extend the life of the floor but they have reached the end of their economic life.
Lights- Lighting is decades old, inefficient, and bulbs are no longer available for the main fixtures in parts of the church. The lighting needs to be updated while the scaffolding is up to replace the fixtures with more efficient LED lighting. We are working with MassSave to try to convert all lighting to LED lighting that is energy efficient and cost-effective.
Music- Each music group brings their own equipment which is inconvenient and difficult for our music ministry volunteers. Enhancing our music ministry area will provide better quality sound with pre-programmed equipment for use by all music groups.
I, and the restoration committee will be holding a meeting to present the project to the parish in the Chapel (Lower Church).
Our predecessors who faced catastrophic losses rose to the challenge and rebuilt our Church. Now it's our turn to prepare our Church for the generations that sit in the pews of our Church after us. The IC Church Restoration Fund has been created for this purpose. It is our turn to be good stewards of our parish home. We are undertaking this project not just for us, but for future generations that will call Immaculate Conception home. Our fundraising goal is $600,000.00. This may seem like an insurmountable sum, but together we can achieve this goal. Please watch the parish website, Facebook, and the future bulletins for more information about how you can help restore our parish home.
Anyone who wishes to make a contribution to the IC Church Restoration Fund now may do so using the green envelopes located in the back of the Church, or via the on-line giving link or PayPal link on the parish website.
Our Parish has persevered through natural disasters, burst pipes, and failing boilers. Together, we will overcome the challenges we are facing together as a result of the fire of 2019.
Fr Steven Clemence
CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS TRULY RISEN, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the eastern tradition of the Catholic Church on Easter Sunday the priest proclaims: “Christ is risen.” And the people respond: “He is truly risen!” This is a beautiful expression of the belief and joy of Easter morning. When Mary Magdalene and the other women were going to the tomb of Christ sad, lost, in great distress, they were greeted by an Angel. He said, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but HE IS RISEN.
Through His rising from the tomb, He offers us this same gift of His Resurrection! For that, we must choose daily to believe that He has power to conquer everything, and reject the secular and negative “message” that the world promotes through TV and social media which says that there is no hope.The words “He is risen!” reminds us of the joyous news we celebrate at Easter, that Jesus’ death was not in vain, and that He has the power to overcome death. May the resurrection of Christ give us hope for our salvation, resurrection and eternal life!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we approach Holy Week and prepare to celebrate the greatest event of the year, the Resurrection of Christ, there is another topic that I would like to address today. During some Masses this past weekend, we spoke briefly on the subject of abortion. Contrary to what many believe, this is not a Catholic issue but a human rights issue! As the fear of reversing Roe vs Wade grows, many states are getting ready to “protect women’s rights” by creating state laws that make abortions not only more accessible but also more dangerous for women. Some states, like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, are capitalizing on this momentum to go to unimaginable territory. Right now, there are two bills (HB 3320 and SB 1209) in the Massachusetts legislature that propose the following:
· Allow abortion in Massachusetts during all nine months of pregnancy.
· Eliminate any requirement that even late-term abortions be performed in hospitals.
· Eliminate the requirement to make efforts to care for a child who survives an attempted abortion.
· Eliminate any requirement that a pregnant minor (under 18) have adult consent (parental or through the courts) before undergoing an abortion.
These are elected men and women that should be representing us, our views, in creating just laws that protect the weak, the innocent, and those who do not have a voice. It is our duty as Catholics, as citizens, and as human beings to stop this. I urge all of you to contact your representatives and spread the word among your friends and acquaintances. EVERY EMAIL COUNTS!. In fact, that may well be our most powerful weapon at this point. ACT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. The House Bill 3320 is sponsored by Patricia A. Haddad, of Somerset (Patricia.Haddad@mahouse.gov) and Jay D. Livingstone of Boston (Jay.Livingstone@mahouse.gov). The Senate version of the Bill 1209 is sponsored by Harriette L. Chandler of Worcester. Harriette.Chandler@masenate.gov
Regarding the act of abortion itself, we must always try to understand the circumstances in which some women find themselves. More often than not, they do not have any support to go through the pregnancy; they feel alone and scared. Sometimes other people, such as boyfriends, parents, or other close acquaintances, will push them to do it. They do not see any way out other than going through an abortion. There are also times when women are deceived by different opinions which lead them to believe that the child is not alive or that the child will not experience any pain. To gain a better insight into the process of abortion, I would like to encourage everyone to watch the movie Unplanned. It recounts the real story of Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. She was a staunch defender of abortion, having made two herself, until she witnessed for herself the process of removing a child from his mother’s womb. We are not in the business of accusing people or condemning anyone. We are here to support and welcome anyone who needs help, regardless of their past decisions. Maybe we have never pulled a trigger on anyone, but with our words or with our thoughts we could have killed many people and hurt many others. So here is not a matter of who is good or bad…but only finding God’s mercy. If you have experienced it, then lead others to it!
We are in the process of preparing a moment of prayer on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 28th), in which we will bring a speaker to give witness to the devastating effects of abortion on both the mother and father. We will also pray for all those who are in need of healing, especially spiritual healing through mercy. Please don’t wait for April 28th to pray for them – let’s start today!
Father Steven Clemence