Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It has been two months that Deacon Gabriel has been with us. So this week I asked him to share with us how he feels. Please read below his experience as a deacon here in the Parish.
Prior to being ordained deacon, I was finishing up my time of missionary formation in the San Francisco area. While I was there, many thoughts would run through my head, wondering if I were ready or if I were too young; I thought at times I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into as I moved forward with the vocation. However, when the time came for me to return to Boston, I had to attend some retreats in preparation for ordination where I was consoled by the words of scripture where Christ tells his disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.” It reminded me that if God has called me, he would also give me the graces necessary to fulfill this vocation.
It’s now been a little over two months since I have been at Immaculate Conception and I can say that God has accompanied me just as I had hoped. One thing that happens during ordination is that you receive an indelible seal on your character which can never be erased. Now, I don’t necessarily feel any physical difference, but there is definitely a profound change. It’s as if my whole life has been adjusted in one direction, like my life is really geared towards a fixed mission. This helps me to remember that it is God who has placed those at the parish in front of me and I am ultimately at your service.
The very beginning of my time here consisted more than anything of shadowing Fr. Steven and Fr. Kevin in the different sacraments and simply being present at different events. It is through them that I see God marking out the way for me, providing me with teachers that make the burden light.
I also see how all my time getting to know scripture over the years (inside and outside of the classroom), experiencing how it has accompanied me in me in my trials and my times of joy has been a preparation to share with everyone else each time that I preach. Nevertheless, as Fr. Steven and Fr. Kevin have shown me, when preaching you must be rooted in prayer. It’s never about getting in front of the lectern and sharing my personal thoughts or opinions, but asking the Holy Spirit to assist me in preparing so that what I put together may reach the needs of those gathered at mass. Also, although it may not seem like much, I now feel a strong sense of responsibility whenever I have to proclaim the Gospel. Whereas before I was just reading it, now there is a real sense that Jesus Christ does become present in his words and is speaking to us in the mass through the Gospel whenever it is proclaimed.
One other thing that I am discovering about this ministry is just how closely tied we are to the most important moments in people’s lives. If you just think about it, you can go from the excitement and joy of a wedding to accompanying a family in their grief at a funeral all in the same day. Or you can be at one moment participating in the happiness of a baptism and soon after visiting the sick or homebound who struggle with their solitude. I think this is incredibly important, because what we hope to do is to make God present at every moment of life and that is an incredible honor. That is to say that through my ministry people can discover that God has been with them both at their highs and their lows, never abandoning them and never being indifferent to their joy or sorrow.
Above all, I have been impressed with everyone’s immense gratitude for my presence and service. It reminds me that even my vocation alone or simply being present can be extremely important, because already by people seeing that I have been called to the priesthood and that I pursued this vocation, abandoning my own plans for life to follow the Lord’s, makes God present for many and it can also be a source of hope.
I am also very grateful to all of you for your support and prayers, I appreciate it all very much. I can honestly say that it is by remaining in Christ that everything I have been doing has been possible. My hope is that I may continue to lead all of you to him so that you may also experience his nearness in everything that you do.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we would like to share with you some activities that we will be doing for the youth. During the month of July, we already had a treasure hunt, a movie night, and a game night. On Friday evenings we gather the middle and high-schoolers, and Saturday mornings we meet with the elementary students grades 1-5. Next week we are planning an outing at Hopkinton State Park on Friday and some local park, like Jericho Hill, for the little ones, weather permitting.
During the month of August, we will be bringing our youth program to another level. These will be restricted to youth who already were in the middle school last year. We will give preference to children from IC, however we can have a waiting list for friends. There will be a cost attached to each adventure, so if anyone would like to contribute to help families who might not have the means to send their kids, please contact the parish office. Please keep them in your prayers so that they can all have fun safely!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have some great news to share with you. In the past we shared with you how Grandparent’s day is celebrated on the memorial day of St. Joachim and Ann, the grandparents of Jesus. Recently, Pope Francis has given greater attention to this day as well as the care of the elderly. Please read the message below from the Catholic News Agency.
The Vatican will again offer a plenary indulgence to mark the third World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on July 23.
The indulgence can be received by grandparents, the elderly, and all Catholics who, “motivated by the true spirit of penance and charity,” participate in Pope Francis’ July 23 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica or another Grandparents’ Day celebration, or who visit the elderly, the Vatican said.
Chosen by Pope Francis, the theme of Grandparents’ Day 2023 comes from a verse in the Gospel of Luke: “His mercy is from age to age.”
It will be marked this year on July 23, the Sunday before the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim, the grandparents of Jesus.
The concession of the plenary indulgence for Grandparents’ Day 2023 was granted by a July 5 decree from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, a tribunal of the Apostolic See with jurisdiction over indulgences and the absolution of the gravest sins.
An indulgence is defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.”
The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence require the individual to be in a state of grace, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the pope's intentions.
The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion, up to about 20 days before or after the prayers for the indulgence.
In his decree, Piacenza asked priests to be more available to hear confessions in light of the possible indulgence.
“So that, therefore, this opportunity to attain divine grace through the power of the Keys of the Church may more easily be implemented through pastoral charity, this Penitentiary firmly requests priests equipped with the appropriate faculties to hear confessions to make themselves available, with a ready and generous spirit, for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance,” he said.
The July 5 decree stipulated that one way to receive the plenary indulgence for Grandparents' Day is by dedicating time on July 23 to visiting the elderly, particularly those who are sick, disabled, or abandoned. A phone or video call can also count, the Vatican said. Another way is to attend Pope Francis’ Grandparents’ Day Mass at the Vatican or another Grandparents’ Day Mass (like all the masses here at IC on the weekend of 22 or 23.)
Those who would like to participate in the indulgence but are unable to leave their homes due to sickness, age, or another serious reason, the decree said, can unite themselves spiritually to the celebrations of the day through “offering to the Merciful God their prayers, pain, and the suffering of their lives” while watching the pope's Mass or another celebration on TV or online.
As grandchildren, the Lord invites us to be grateful to the parents of our parents. Whether they were close to us or not, we are still called to pray and assist them. Without their generosity and having children, we would not be alive. As we fulfill our duties as Christians, the Lord also blesses our generosity to them as well. Let’s take advantage to love one another and receive this special blessing that the Lord gives us.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we have an opportunity to thank God for the birth of our nation, not just once a year, but continually to be grateful. As we have time to rest over the next summer weeks, we are also invited to dedicate time to God and our neighbor. This great nation was not founded and built without God and neighbor. So, this week we are invited to stop for a moment to thank them.
Over these next weeks there will be plenty of picnics, BBQs, time to visit family and friends. Whether we travel or stay home, it is important to rest from our regular activities. Considering that it’s summer, we should take advantage and go out, exercise, and enjoy God’s creation. Speaking of God, we never take vacation from Him. Quite the contrary, we should also dedicate more time to him. I understand that during the busy months, we are running up and down with our duties, and we don’t have much time for prayer. Maybe we do the minimum such as our morning prayers and devotions, rosary, grace before meals, and the night prayers. Now that we are more relaxed, we can attend adoration every day 6:30-7:30am, daily masses at 7:30am, stop by the church to pray at any time during the time (until 7pm) among other activities. For those who will be traveling, you will be in our prayers and make sure that we schedule our travels in such a way that allows us to attend Sunday masses.
In the summer we also have time to take care of our neighbors. In our daily activities, sometimes we lose contact with friends and relatives for not having time to call or visit them. This is the perfect time to catch up with old pals. If they live out of state, a phone call here and there will also be great. We should also open our hearts for those who live near us. Sometimes we make a big effort to connect with people across the world, and that next door we limit ourselves to a polite wave on the way in or out of the house. We should create bridges with those around us. Whether baking something for them, inviting them over, or a simple friend chat over the yard goes a long way. In my ministry I see people isolated quite often. There are several reasons for which they might not be able to reach out, but most would react well if someone reaches out to them. The same can be said for those who are struggling with homelessness. During the winter time there is a great concern for them because of the cold. During the summer, heat can be another very serious issue. As dehydration and sunstroke is a concern to us and our children, but it affects them even more. Therefore, if you see someone in need, don’t be afraid to reach out. This is again how our country grew stronger, by building it together!
This weekend we will hear a very familiar Gospel, which Jesus invites us to rest in Him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” So, let us draw closer to him, to be able to anticipate the eternal rest in heaven here today. We can unite Jesus and rest. Whether reading some spiritual book, or watching a holy movie. In case you have not heard me say this in the past, there is a movie that recently came out on Amazon Prime called “Man of God.” It’s based on the true story of the Greek Orthodox Bishop St. Nektarios. It was one of the best movies I watched recently. I began watching Two Crowns the other day, but I have not finished yet. It is based on the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Then there are some classics that never grow old, such as the Scarlet and the Black and St. Damien of Molokai. There many more in Formed.org, that if you have not signed up, it’s really worthy. The parish pays an annual subscription, so that you may enjoy it for free. You can go to their website formed.org, select sign up as a parishioner, enter the parish Zip Code, select our parish, and enter your email. Once you validate your email, you can then download the app and enter your credentials. St. Rita of Cascia, and St. Bakhita are my personal favorites. I will certainly keep you all in my prayers, as I ask you to pray for us.
Father Steven Clemence