Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to thank everyone for attending Alfred Sandini’s funeral mass Saturday, July 20th. Here is another beautiful story of people of our parish coming together to help a person in need.
On July 20 of this year, I had to make a trip to Brazil for a noble cause: to bring a sick parishioner, Ronie Cézar Filho, a terminally ill cancer patient, to his parents in the city of Contagem, MG, Brazil. That was for me a difficult and painful, quick three days journey, but also a very full trip of divine graces in it. I left on the 20th and returned, Wednesday, July 24th.
Ronie has been a very involved member of IC Parish. He used to help the Brazilian youth from many parishes doing many things, giving testimony to the youth of his conversion, guiding them to God’s way, correcting them and praying for them. He has helped us in many events of our parish as well, especially being part of security of our annual Brazilian Festival. However, he discovered his cancer in December of 2018. After that he went to the hospital in Worcester and he did all the medical procedures as well as the chemotherapy and radiation. In the beginning of this year the doctors sent him home and they asked him to keep taking medicines.
Meanwhile, as he could not work, many of his friends, parishioners and also people from many places have decided to help him financially paying his bills, food, as well as cleaning his home, etc. He has no one from his family living here in the United States of America. They created a fund so that Ronie could receive donations. Also, he received all religious assistance from IC Parish, like priest visits with the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion from our Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, and the assistance of Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
When Ronie was told about his aggressive cancer he did not want to go to Brazil because he had a hope God would heal him although the doctors, since the beginning, told him his cancer has no cure. We, friends, have tried to tell him to go back home (Brazil) and stay there with his family, but he didn’t want to do it. Also another reason that made him stay here is his only eleven-year-old daughter, Jennifer da Silva, she was born here in the USA and she lives with her mother in Ashland. She loves Ronie, her dad and Ronie was always present in Jennifer’s life, although he was separated from Jennifer’s mom.
Unfortunately, two weeks ago he went back to the hospital. Last week the doctors made a last meeting with Ronie, the worker assistance and his friends and in this meeting they told us Ronie can’t live alone anymore because he needs someone 24 hours with him looking after him all the time. Also, the doctors said to us again that there is nothing they could do for him, no surgery and no more medical treatment like chemotherapy and radiation, and they advised us not to try to do any other alternative way for healing him. Ronie, fortunately and finally, in that meeting with the doctors, told them he would like to go to Brazil. We were happy with his decision.
After that the worker assistance made another meeting with Ronie’s friends explaining all the procedures we should do so that Ronie can travel and meet his family safely. The worker assistance from Worcester Hospital told us he has to travel in the first class and with someone else next to him. They gave him all the medicines free for a month that Ronie would need. And finally, the assistance told us to be prepare ourselves because Ronie could die anytime. He wished the presence of his daughter on the trip. And also many friends asked me to make presence on this trip so that I may give a word of consolation to Ronie’s family when we arrive there. So this was the plan we had.
After that meeting, we, Ronie’s group which I am included, have worked hard preparing his trip to Brazil. We have made some meetings and made important decisions, once Ronie’s life was in our hands. Decisions like who is going to accompany him, who is going to prepare his medicines for a month, who is going to prepare a Travel Authorization For Child Unaccompanied with Brazilian Consulate of Boston for Jennifer, and other decisions.
The trip was successful. God prepared everything and we were like Moses guiding the people of Israel through the Red Sea.
When we arrived there, Ronie’s family were all there waiting for us. We cried. We stayed with Ronie and his family for three days but Jennifer will be back this Saturday. Ronie’s life wasn’t anymore in our hands, but in his family’s hands. For us this trip was difficult, painful, a quick three days journey, but also a very full trip of divine graces in it. We prayed the rosary with Ronie and with all his family there. I talked to them that we, parishioners, Ronie’s friends, will support the family until Ronie’s departure, although this talk was hard. Indeed, many people have been helping Ronie financially, religiously and affectionately. Also, I told them how loved Ronie is here in the IC Parish for many things he has done for our Brazilian community. All members of Ronie’s family thanked us for doing the great effort for bringing him back home and for many other kinds of help.
We have seen many fruits in this story, such as people doing charity out of their heart, people rejoicing seeing us taking care of Ronie with love. An example of this are the comments from Worcester Hospital asking us to help them in the future with other patients. Also we have the example of people from Brazilian Consulate going to the hospital for collecting Ronie’s signature in fast way. Finally, I would like to witness that Ronie was in peace with his possible departure to the Father. His last word to me were “thank you father for everything you and my friends, parishioners, have done for me”. As a priest I can testify he is ready for going away if God allows it.
Please, pray for him that God release him from this cancer if this were the will of God. And also, pray for all members of his family so that God consoles them.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to point out this week a very special date. July 22nd, the Church will celebrate the FEAST of Mary Magdalene. In the past, she was celebrated like many saints with an “obligatory memory”. After revising her role in the resurrection of Jesus, the Church elevated her day to a “feast,” just like all the other apostles. The Church has seen that she plays a pivotal role as the primary witness of the Resurrection of Christ and is an apostle to the apostles. Please read below the decree published by the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Request of the Holy Father.
Vatican City, 10 June 2016 - Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, explains the meaning of the decree that will enable Mary Magdalene to be "celebrated" liturgically like the rest of the apostles. "The decision is situated in the current ecclesial context, which calls upon us to reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelisation and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy. It was St. John Paul II who dedicated great attention not only to the importance of women in the very mission of Christ and the Church, but also, and with special emphasis, to the peculiar function of St. Mary Magdalene as the first witness of the Risen Christ and the first messenger who announced to the apostles the resurrection of the Lord. This importance remains in today's Church – as shown by the current commitment to a new evangelisation – which seeks to welcome, without distinction, men and women of any race, people, language and nation, to proclaim to them the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage and to offer them the wonders of God's salvation. St. Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelisation, that is, an evangeliser who proclaims the joyful central message of Easter."
"The Holy Father Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to stress the importance of this women, who shows great love for Christ and was very dear to Christ, as confirmed by Rabano Mauro ("dilectrix Christi et Christo plurimum dilecta": De vita beate Mariae magdalenae, Prologus) and St. Anselm of Canterbury ("electa dilectrix et dilecta Electrix Dei", Oratio a LXXIII Sanctam Mariam Magdalenam). It is certain that the Christian tradition in the West, especially after St. Gregory the Great, identifies as the same person who poured perfume in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and the sister of Lazarus and Martha. This interpretation continued to influence the western ecclesiastical writers, Christian art and liturgical texts relating to the Saint. The Bollandists widely discussed the problem of the identification of the three women and prepared the way for the liturgical reform of the Roman Calendar. With the implementation of the reform, the tests of the Roman Missal, the Liturgy of the Hours and the Martyrologium Romanum, reference is made to Mary of Magdala. It is certain that Mary Magdalene formed part of the group of Jesus' disciples, that she followed Him to the foot of the cross and in the garden in which she found the tomb, she was the first 'testis divinae misericordiae', as St. Gregory the Great affirmed. The Gospel of John says that Mary Magdalene wept, as she had not found the body of the Lord, and Jesus had mercy on her, allowing Himself to be recognised as the Master and transforming her tears into Paschal joy." The archbishop took the opportunity to highlight two ideas inherent in the biblical and liturgical texts of the new feast, which may contribute to a better understanding of the current importance of a saint such as Mary Magdalene.
"On the one hand, she has the honour of being the 'prima testis' to the resurrection of the Lord, the first to see the empty tomb and the first to hear the truth of His resurrection. Christ has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who shows her love for Him, looking for Him in the garden with anguish and suffering, with 'lacrimas humilitatis', as St. Anselm says in the aforementioned prayer. In this sense, I would like to show the difference between the two women present in the garden of Paradise, and in the garden of the Resurrection. The first disseminates death where there was life, and the second proclaims Life from a tomb, the place of death. … Likewise, it is in the garden of resurrection that the Lord says to Mary Magdalene, 'Noli me tangere'. It is an invitation not only to Mary, but also to all the Church, to enter into an experience of faith that overcomes any materialistic appropriation or human understanding of the divine mystery. It has ecclesial importance! It is a good lesson for every disciple of Jesus: do not seek human securities and worldly honours, but faith in the Living and Risen Christ."
"Precisely since she was an eyewitness to the Risen Christ, she was also the first to testify before the apostles. She fulfils the mandate the Risen Christ gives her: 'go to my brothers and say to them … Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her'. In this way she becomes, as is already known, an evangelist, or rather a messenger who announces the good news of the resurrection of the Lord; or, as Rabano Mauro and St. Thomas Aquinas said, 'apostolorum apostola', as she announces to the apostles what they in turn will announce to all the world. The Angelic Doctor is right to apply this term to Mary Magdalene: she is the witness to the Risen Christ and announces the message of the resurrection of the Lord, like the other apostles. Therefore it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman should have the same level of festivity given to the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, and that the special mission of this woman be highlighted, as an example and model to every woman in the Church", concluded Archbishop Roche.
I Believe in the Communion of the Saints
Dear Brothers and Sisters, when we recite the Apostles’ creed, we say that we believe in the communion of the saints. That line has a profound implication not only in what we believe, but also how we live our beliefs. To believe in the communion of the saints is to say that the whole Church is united regardless of our state of life. The Catechism teaches us that there are 3 states of the Church of Christ, his Mystical Body. It says at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating “‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is.'” (CCC 954). These states of life have traditionally been called the Militant Church (on earth) the Suffering or Penitent Church in purgatory, and the Triumphant Church in Heaven. Those that are in heaven, also called Saints, intercede for us all the time. Those that are in purgatory are aided by our prayers here on earth. The whole Church is always united and helping each other.
On behalf of the parish, I would like to exhort everyone to come to Church Saturday July 20th at 11:00am to make a visible sign that no one is alone. On that day, we will have the funeral of a parishioner of ours who for many years was away and now he is returning home.
Alfred Sandini, son of Benedetto and Pulcheria Sandini was born on December 18th, 1918 here in Marlboro. Shortly after his 20th birthday, the Second World War broke out in Europe and a few years later it came to US soil. Soon after the attack of Pearl Harbor, Alfred enlisted himself with the US Army Air Forces from Massachusetts and served with the 22nd Bombardment Squadron from the 341stGroup in the Pacific Theater. While based in China and flying on a mission in Indochina, present Vietnam, his plane failed to report back to base. The whole crew was reported Missing In Action on February 15th, 1944. Later it was determined that his plane crashed probably by enemy anti-aircraft fire. The remains of the crew were first buried locally, and one year later transferred to the US Military Cemetery in China. However, there was never any record that Alfred was buried along with his crew. On March 6th 1947, his remains, along with other 836 unidentified American remains began to be exhumed and transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii in a process that took 2 years. Decades later, efforts were made to identify all the unknown remains. On November of 2016, the Accounting Agency began to analyze the file of Alfred. In August 2018, his remains were exhumed for a DNA sample to be compared with other DNA samples. After matching his DNA with his brother John Sandini, 94 year old Florida resident, Alfred Ralph Sandini’s remains were finally identified after 75 years.
It was always Alfred’s desire if anything ever happened that he would have his funeral at Immaculate Conception and buried at the parish cemetery in his family plot. His wishes are finally granted, as we are honored to celebrate his Funeral on Saturday July 20th at 11:00am. I would like to invite everyone to be present as we accompany our brother to his final place of rest. This is the fulfillment of the communion of saints. A proof that no one is ever alone. As others accompanied him at the beginning of his life in Baptism, it is up to us to pray and accompany him as he returns home.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week I was browsing through different prayers for the 4th of July. There are some pretty awesome prayers that I suggest that all of us should start using. The one I enjoyed the most was written by Archbishop John Carroll, the first Bishop in the US. He wrote this prayer almost 230 years ago:
“We pray, O almighty and eternal God, who through Jesus Christ has revealed thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of your name.
We pray Thee, who alone are good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, the pope, the vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, all other bishops, prelates and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise among us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct your people into the ways of salvation.
We pray O God of might, wisdom and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.
Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
Finally, we pray to you, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of your servants departed, who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech you, a place of refreshment, light and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior”.
This editorial appears in the July 3 issue of the National Catholic Register.
Father Steven Clemence