Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Please see below our Parish Annual Report for FY23.
God Bless, Fr. Steven
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we celebrate “Catechetical Sunday.” That marks the beginning of our CCD/Religious Education classes. I believe that it is important for us this weekend to understand the importance of religious education for both children and adults.
The religious education to children is something that first starts with the parents, Godparents, relatives, and friends, as part of this effort to teach the children in the ways of the Lord. As they learn their ABC's and their numbers, it is very important at a young age that they start learning about their faith. As they start exploring the world, I see that many of them also start asking questions about God. Whether they are at Church or at home, the children are very much interested to understand what and why they do things. One of my youngest recollection of religiosity, I remember as a little kid seeing a dead bird in my yard. My mom came over and spoke to me about God and creation. As we “buried” the little bird, I remember vividly repeating the words of the Our Father after my mother. Something so small that could have been brushed aside, my mom took that opportunity to teach me about God. This is important for all the parents, Godparents, relatives and friends. If we desire our littlest ones to become successful and righteous, we need to start teaching them about God. I’m always amused when parents ask me when it would be appropriate to start teaching religion to their children. The answer is always the same, which is, “yesterday!”. Our program of Religious Education comes to reinforce what parents should already have taught their children. One could even say that we help deepen their understanding of their faith in God and also help them to prepare to receive their sacraments. Therefore, all the children who are first graders and up should be enrolled in the program, unless they are enrolled in a Catholic School. Then they could be exempt due to their religious instruction they receive at that Catholic School. However, that does not exclude them from choosing to do both, as some of our students do. So whether your children, Godchildren, grandchildren, nephews/nieces, relatives and friends are in elementary, middle, or high school, they should all be taught about God. But how can we be prepared to learn about faith by ourselves? This leads me to the second point.
In our seminary formation, we do 6 years of solid graduate classes of philosophy and theology. Then, as ordained, we continue to educate ourselves by programs, talks, videos etc…imagine that I have 9 years as a priest, plus all the formation that I received during the seminary. One could say that I would not need to deepen my understanding/knowledge of God and the Church. Truth to be told, every month I try to learn more about a specific part of our faith. There are times that I learn how to deliver/explain the topics to someone else. One common example was the videos of Fr. Mike Schmitz speaking about same sex attraction or why we should not get tattoos. Other times it helps me to get closer to God. We attempted to start a program last year to provide faith formation for adults, but it never happened. This year we are committed to offering something that helps our faith to grow and our understating of God to deepen. Stay tuned for more details in the future!
Lastly, I would like to share with you a couple of events coming up in our Parish, besides the 24Hr Adoration this weekend (Sunday 6pm – Monday 6pm). On October 8th, the Spanish community will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary at the 1pm mass. The following Sunday, the Brazilians will be celebrating Our Lady of Aparecida at the 9am mass. Feel free to join these festivities with our brothers and sisters from the parish.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Please see the message below from our Immaculate Conception St. Vincent de Paul Conference.
Dear Immaculate Conception Community,
Fr. Steven has given our Immaculate Conception St. Vincent de Paul Conference the opportunity to address all of you this week to tell you about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the works of the I.C. St. Vincent de Paul Conference, and to invite you to participate in our annual Friends of the Poor® Walk, which will be held on Saturday, September 23rd.
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are in need and suffering, in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a world-wide organization composed of women and men who seek their personal holiness through works of charity. Our mission statement describes the Society as “A network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.”
The current Immaculate Conception St. Vincent de Paul Conference was formed in 2016. We meet twice a month for prayer and spiritual reflection, and to deepen our commitment to the Christian calling to seek and find the forgotten, the suffering, or the deprived so that we may bring them the love of Jesus. Our goal is to grow in holiness through service to those in need. The Society offers tangible assistance regardless of religion or background. The intent is to provide both emergency relief and a path to self-sufficiency. During our last fiscal year, the I.C. St. Vincent de Paul Conference has:
Made more than 100 personal home visits to assess needs and offer support.
Provided over $80,000 in direct help for nearly 150 individuals and families. Financial support was used for rent, utility bills, food, clothing, car repairs, and other needs.
Referred people to, or personally contacted, local agencies such as Marlborough Community Cupboard, Marlborough Human Services, SMOC, First Concern, BirthRight, Recovery Connection, and MetroWest Legal Services.
Distributed Christmas dinners.
We are immensely grateful for the ongoing support of our faithful parishioners and generous sponsors who help make all this possible. Our only annual fund-raising event is the Friends of the Poor Walk, and we invite you to join this year’s walk.
The Friends of the Poor Walk is an event held across the country by St. Vincent de Paul Conferences. Immaculate Conception has held a Friends of the Poor Walk the past 6 years the last Saturday in September, commemorating the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, along the Assabet River Rail Trail. I.C. St. Vincent de Paul joins with the St. Vincent de Paul Conference from St. Matthias for this special event to raise funds for those helped by both Marlborough conferences. Each walker is asked to solicit donations from family, friends, and co-workers to help our neighbors in Marlborough. 100% of all donations help those in need.
We would love to have everyone join us on Saturday September 23rd. Registration starts at 9:30 am at Meehan Hall with the walk beginning at 10:00 am. You can also register or donate online at www.icfopwalk.org. Walk if you are able, cheer on those who are walking if you can’t. We would love to share how St. Vincent de Paul has deepened our relationship with Christ through working with our friends in need.
If you have questions please contact us by phone (leave a message and we will return the call) at 978-763-0578 or by email ICMarlboroSVDP@gmail.com. Thank you for your continued support of Immaculate Conception St. Vincent de Paul!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Please see the message below written by Stephen Hanley and Cecilia Melo.
As you most likely have heard and read, we will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 24th. We would like to honor the Catechists who give of their time and talent to catechize, share their faith, and sacramentally prepare the children and adults of this parish in our religious education classes.
The mission of Immaculate Conception parish is to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) The Lord Jesus Christ calls us to be “salt and light” to the world. Without salt, there is no life and without light, the world is void. Jesus is the “Light of the World.” Passing and sharing the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ to our loved ones, to our children, and to adults who are seeking the Truth is the most important gift we can give. Why? Because in sharing the Eternal Truth, a person receives the eternal love of Jesus Christ who has conquered sin and death.
No matter what we do or say, we must breathe. Each time you breathe, the sound of your breath actually says the word "God" in Hebrew. The essence of everything that is good, whether we can comprehend it or not is created by the God of Love. This is what we aim to share with the children and adults in our religious education classes. The classes exist to cultivate an environment so the student may have an encounter with Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The classes are not an academic exercise. Catechists are there to enable a response or echo from the mind or soul of the child or adult. Echo is the root word for Catechist. The Lord calls us to respond to a call to His love so we can live in truth and be free. For Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6) He also said, "Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) When you create a hospitable environment at home or in the classroom, a child or adult can witness and experience the love of Jesus Christ. This happens in ways of simplicity. Such as sharing good advice that removes discouragement from the mind of a person or writing a card of gratitude to a person who feels lonely or just serving a cup of water to another before serving yourself. In these simple acts, wisdom is cultivated. God calls us to be wise. This happens through humility; for Jesus said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew, 18:4)
In addition to having blessed Catechists to announce the Gospel, we have Catechism books from Sophia Institute that can help the Catechists create a classroom atmosphere for students to participate and enjoy what they discover and learn about their faith. We encourage our Catechists to immerse the children or adults in activities that will help them discover the love of God on a personal level. This process allows the students to experience joy which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When you desire to help your children to express joy, you empower them to come to know Jesus personally. This can happen in many ways. It first happens in how you form your home. The church begins at home. Be imitators of the Holy Family of Nazareth. This will happen in the daily tasks, fun activities, reading the Holy Scriptures together and finding out what it really means when the psalmist wrote; “Taste and See the goodness of the Lord.” This is why your life, and mine exists. It is to know, love, and serve the Lord. Let us pray effectively, by asking the Lord, by seeking the Lord, and by knocking on the door of the Kingdom of Heaven to fill our Catechists and all the children and adults who they will meet this year to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit!
We are here to help you in this journey. Please take the time to enroll your Son or daughter in the Religious Education program by scanning the QR code registration form and send to us. Monday classes begin September 25th and Sunday Classes will begin October 1st.
Stephen Hanley and Cecilia Melo
Father Steven Clemence