FAREWELL LETTER FROM FR. ADRIANO
Dear Brothers and Sisters of IC Parish,
Tomorrow I will leave for a new mission, to Salvador, BA, Brazil. But first, I would like to say a few words.
As I told you, when I announced weeks ago about my transfer, I am leaving this parish with a sadness and a joy in my heart. Sadness for saying goodbye to the people I learned to love ... and joy for, in faith, leaving for an important and urgent mission, because I know that many divine graces await me there. We are all human and suffer when someone dear leaves. But, in faith, we rejoice in the beautiful and good trail that this person leaves us.
Over the years, I have learned to understand and love you and this nation with its culture. I lived here with you my first years of my priesthood. With you, God has enriched me with knowledge, not only by learning to speak English and Spanish, but to respect and understand other cultures. Above all, I learned to love you by living together the sufferings that life presents us with. On one hand, I love the country that God chose for me to be born, Brazil, on the other hand, I will always carry with me the love, affection and gratitude for this country that welcomed me for eight years, the United States of America. I hope all the best for this beautiful and blessed nation: God, love, faith and freedom. I wish divine blessing for all of you, I wish Christian love, in the dimension of the cross for all who suffer. I wish the necessary faith for you and for this nation and I wish for the most precious prize won by the first fathers of this nation, freedom. I wish freedom for this country so that we can all continue to worship God in this blessed land. I want you to know that there, in Salvador, you will have a friend and brother, a Brazilian-American. Whenever you want to go there, I will welcome you. Just as here in Marlborough I feel at home, there in Salvador you will also have a home.
I want to say that I will be fine there, because I am sure that God is there, in Salvador, waiting for me to welcome me. I also want to communicate and comfort you here that the Cardinal of Salvador, Sergio da Rocha, sent me a cordial welcome email last Saturday, encouraging me of not to be afraid of the challenges of the new mission and to say that the people of Bahia are also very welcoming, as you were for me. I was immensely happy with his letter.
I want to thank God first for the great affection he had for me when he sent me here to this parish 8 years ago. I want to thank our Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley who welcomed me to this Boston Church with open arms. I want to thank the various priests who worked here with me in this parish: Fr. Michael, who welcomed me to this parish for the first time in 2013; to Fr. Alonso, Fr. Marc, Fr. Andrea, Fr. Gregory and Fr. Steven, and Fr. Przemek who have been with me these past few years as true brothers. I want to thank you, who have welcomed me since the day I arrived here. Those from the English-speaking community, those from the Spanish-speaking community, and those from the Portuguese-speaking community, Brazilians.
I end this with the phrase of a missionary like me, who I like very much: "... I will obey God's mandate! I am prepared and ready to suffer everything and with the greatest joy of my heart, for the salvation of the poor Indians" (Saint Francis Xavier).
God bless you,
Fr. Adriano Albino de Castro
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as the “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Every year we always hear a passage from chapter 10 from the Gospel of John. In order to understand better the importance of the shepherd in the Bible, we need to go back in history. Looking at the contemporary Bedouins, we get a glimpse from what it looked like in the life of the tribes of Israel. In that society, the relationship between the shepherd and his flock was not merely functional based solely on the financial value of the sheep. There was a relationship that was formed that one could almost call it a personal relationship. The shepherd and the sheep usually spent many days together in remote areas, where there was no one else around. The shepherd ended up knowing everything about each of his sheep. This relationship was so close, that the shepherd would talk often to his sheep, warning them, calling them back, caring for them among many other things. Due to this constant “dialogue,” the sheep came to recognize the voice of their shepherd and listened to him.
This helps us to understand why God would have chosen the image of a shepherd to express his relationship with mankind. In one of the most beautiful and well-known psalms, the psalmist describes the sense of confidence that a person has in God as his shepherd when he says, “The Lord is my shepherd, and there is nothing that I want.” Later in history we see that the title of “shepherd” was given to those who represented God on earth, namely, the kings, the priests, in sum, the leaders of the people of Israel. That title was only a temporary one, until God were to send the legitimate shepherd, the Good Shepherd. He was no longer a representation of God on earth, he was God himself! Jesus says, “I’m the Good Shepherd.” (Jn 10:11). And this new Shepherd fulfills every prophecy and promise from God, and he lays his life for his sheep. Never a shepherd had given his own life for the sheep, as good as he was. In the words of consecration that the priests say at every mass, Jesus gave his body that was given up for us!
In our times, there are many shepherds, who call us each day to follow them. Many of them promise happiness, joy, success, pleasures, among other things. We call it the allurements of the world. These are the things from the world that tell us that we should follow them. However, they all have empty promises. This Sunday we are called to reflect on which shepherd are we following? Whose voice do we listen to? Whose commands do we obey? This week as I was learning more about the life of St. Bernadette, I was very touched by the promise of Our Lady to her, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other.” We know that what Christ promises us is a done deal. This icon of the Good Shepherd that is on the front page of the bulletin shows us the Crucified and Risen Christ, who already has given his life for his sheep. He lays his life for the sheep on the Cross, and by his resurrection, he rescues the sheep from death. It is another way of showing Christ descending to hell in search of the lost sheep, and once he finds it, he places it over his shoulders, and brings it back rejoicing.
In this time of Easter, we continue to contemplate the love that God has for each one of us. In a similar way in which spouses say that they love each other, or parents that say that they love their children every day, God, like a shepherd, speaks constantly to us. He spends time in our presence, he reminds us constantly of his love. As Psalm 95 says, “if today you listen to his voice, harden not you hearts”, we are also invited first to listen to Christ, then to follow his voice. Only then we will be brought to green pastures, restful waters, have our souls restored and be guided by the right path (Ps. 23).
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
For a long time, we prayed for the arrival of the vaccine and pinned our hopes of a return to normal life on being vaccinated. Now that many of us have already been vaccinated, we’ve probably learned that the vaccine is no magic cure to fix everything and to restore normalcy to our lives.
In the course of a year, all of us have been touched by fear, whether the fear of getting infected with the virus or the fear of infecting others. Fear became the new name for prudence, and we allowed it to redefine our relationships, what we can and cannot do. I hope that we have all realized by now that, just as we must remain prudent, careful and respectful of others, we also need to return to the public square, to take the first steps and regain our place at home and in society, lest fear paralyze and prevent us from living. Pandemics are a part of our past history, and they are also providential times to experience the power of God. Just over a week ago during the Easter Proclamation, we sang “The splendor of the King has conquered darkness, the darkness of the world”! Today, the Church sings that song because if we have died with Christ and, through baptism have been immersed in a death like his, then we also fully share in his resurrection, which is the ultimate triumph over all fears, especially over the fear of sin and death.
Although this is beautiful and constitutes the core of our faith, it is not enough to know this intellectually, as if knowledge can save us, without an experience of the love of God. As the Easter liturgy says, we need to retrace Jesus’ steps from the beginning, return to Galilee where he will “precede” us, to experience the sweetness, the faithfulness and the mercy of God!
This is why starting this week every Monday and Thursday, our parish will offer a series of talks to help us assimilate the essence of our faith and to enlighten our path to holiness. In the Easter Vigil we renewed our baptismal promises, and the aim of these talks is to help us rediscover our baptism. There are many graces in the Christian life, in marriage, in the priesthood, but only one door into divine life, and that is baptism that makes us children of God and shareholders of divine life. When faced with trials and sufferings in life, we pray sometimes for God to remove them from our lives, or to bail us out of those sufferings! Unlike the Virgin Mary, who believed that all things are possible for God, we struggle to see how is it possible to be happy and joyful in suffering, without despairing or losing hope. And while it’s comforting to know that even the apostles doubted of the resurrection of Christ and, for fear of being persecuted like their Master locked themselves in a room, unless we encounter the risen Lord we too will never break free of our fears and overcome our doubts. These talks will be like the risen Lord that breaks through the door of our fears and, showing us the glorious wounds in his hands says, “Peace be with you!” Without this moment of grace, there would be no Church, no announcement of the Gospel, no Peter, no martyrs, no faith, and no possibility of eternal life through the forgiveness of our sins.
Therefore, as the shepherd appointed by the Lord to guide this flock, I invite you to come and listen. The talks will be given in the church on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30PM. Come alone or with someone – and please help me to share this invite with others whom I cannot reach. There is no need to register. The Lord is passing and I hope that we can all see him!
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. On the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska on April of 2000, Saint Pope John Paul II declared that every Second Sunday of Easter would be a day to commemorate the Divine Mercy of Christ. Sister Faustina had many visions of Jesus, and in one of them, he told her that on this Feast of Mercy “all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” She recorded this vision and others in her Diary. Jesus also promised that he wants to forgive the souls that go to confession and receive communion. Jesus spoke to Sister Faustina 14 times about his desire to have a feast dedicated to his Divine Mercy. In one occasion Jesus said “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy…Let no soul fear to draw near to me.”
The visions to Sister Faustina began back in 1930, after the terrible First World War and at the early stages of Nazism and Communism. Europe began to lose the understanding of the dignity and sanctity of human life, which led to the worst and bloodiest Century ever. As God and his immense love was being put aside during that time, Jesus chose another woman to be the bearer of good news. Instead of Mary Magdalene proclaiming the resurrection of Christ, Sister Faustina, by the words of John Paul II, “became the herald of the one message capable of off-setting the evil of those ideologies, that fact that God is mercy – the truth of the merciful Christ.
At one point, Sister Faustina, at the request of Jesus, had a painter portray the image of Jesus that she had seen many times. This picture is on the cover of the bulletin. Jesus is wearing a white garment, giving a blessing with his right hand and touching his heart with the left hand. There are two rays coming out form his heart, red and white. They represent his blood and water that were poured out from his heart for the salvation and sanctification of mankind. Jesus wants that image to be venerated all over the world, and he also promises that “the souls that will venerate this image will not perish”, and “by means of this image, [he] will grant many graces to souls.”
I would like to invite everyone to take advantage of this singular moment of grace in the year to come and receive what Christ promised us. On this day, Plenary Indulge is granted for those who come and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. We will conclude our Novena at 3:00pm this Sunday afternoon. Many times God wants to give us graces, but we need to ask/give permission for him to bestow his graces on us. I also invite you to come to pray for our nation and for the world, so that they also may know the mercy of God and love one another as God loves us.
Here in the parish we will continue to offer other opportunities to grow closer to the Lord. We will start a series of talks for adults and youth on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30pm starting on April 19th. This is the same series of talks that we began almost a year ago that was interrupted by the lockdown. We are also looking at the possibility of having an evening of songs in honor in the Virgin Mary in May, and to have a celebration of Corpus Christi in June. I ask for your prayers that the Lord may bless us and allow us to bring these ideas into completion and to continue to bring more souls to God. At the same time, we priests are always available for counseling, to pray for your intentions, and to do anything we can to help anyone to grow in holiness. Be assured that we pray for you and your loved ones daily as we also ask for your prayers.
Father Steven Clemence