Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Father’s day, I thought of sharing with you a letter that Fr. Adriano wrote about his new assignment, as many people have asked about him. Let us continue to pray for him as well as we pray this weekend to all the fathers in our parish.
Dear Brothers & Sisters, it's been about a month since the Lord has sent me to a new mission in the Archdiocese of São Salvador – Bahia, Brazil and I thought I'd send you a brief letter telling you about my experience.
When I arrived here, on Saturday, May 8th, the Lord God, as I expected, was already here waiting for me. I'm working as a Parochial Vicar at the Saint Anthony Parish together with Fr. Edimilson (the Pastor), Fr. Mateus and the seminarian Dione. All of them, along with the parishioners welcomed me with great affection. They even sang a welcome song to me when I arrived, which is very traditional of the area. A few days later we had a two hour meeting with the local bishop, Cardinal Sergio da Rocha. He welcomed me very well, and he was very happy with my arrival and hopeful with the evangelization of the Archdiocese, as he is also a newcomer here. He was Archbishop of Brasília (where I was ordained a priest) until June of last year. Cardinal Sergio was the only person I knew here, and I was excited to meet him again. He told me that for a few months, maybe during my first year, I would be a Parochial Vicar along with other priests, so I would gradually get used to it, but then, in the a near future, he would send me as a Pastor to another parish. Even in that, the Lord God was kind to me, because I was afraid that I would be sent alone as Pastor to a place I didn't know and without prior adaptation. Well, regarding to being a parish priest, the future belongs to God, and I prefer not to project myself, I prefer to live day by day in the place God has prepared for me. And now I am Parochial Vicar of this parish.
The parish is in a poor neighborhood. It is in a “favela” (slums). It has two more churches that belong to the parish, Saint Francis and Sacred Heart of Mary. There are more than 80,000 inhabitants in the parish territory, which is an area smaller than the city of Marlborough, about half the size. It's a lot of people! Everything here is very intense: houses piled on top of each other, violence, high crime rates, lots of noise, lots of parties, lots of hills, etc. It's an adventure to walk through the streets and the various staircases in the neighborhood. It's an intense life. But there are also very affectionate and welcoming people, always ready to serve. The social contrast here is very clear, there is the rich side of the city, very nice, with tourists, beautiful beaches, and there is the challenging side, poor, violent, drugs, dangerous etc. In short, this is truly a place of mission. However, more than poverty, what impressed me was the lack of God. Paganism here is wide open, in the way of life, dress, lack of dignity, etc. I realize that people come to church at times to get away from the social suffering around. This is good, because this is where we find space to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel.
Well, when I arrived here, I was impressed with the way of life of these people, as you can see. But I wasn't scandalized by poverty because I also came from a poor family, but not on that level. I have asked God in my prayers every day to look out for these brothers here and God has placed compassion in my heart for them.
I'm happy here because God is here. We, the priests, and the seminarian, have been praying together every day in the morning, and we also make life together, with prayers, meals and other moments together. I can't complain because God was always kind to me.
Before I finish, I would like to thank many of you for the gifts you gave me on my last day of mass there. Thank you very much. May God pay you a hundredfold. Also congratulations for your new priest, Fr. Kevin.
Well, I don't want to go on too long... this letter is just a way of fellowshipping with you and letting you know how I am doing, once I had been for 8 yours with you. I am happy but missing you a lot. And I ask you to pray for me, pray for the parish, pray for the mission.
Fr. Adriano Albino de Castro
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I would like to share with you an important message from Cardinal Sean to all of us regarding Sunday Mass obligation.
Brothers and Sisters,
“Without the Lord’s day, we cannot live!” His Holiness, Pope Benedict, in his homily at the Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Vienna on September 9, 2007, quoted the Abitinian Martyrs, who during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian were arrested for celebrating Sunday Mass. The martyrs responded to the magistrate: “Sine dominico non possumus!” – without the Lord’s day, we cannot live! The Pope went on to say: “For these Christians, the Sunday Eucharist was not a commandment, but an inner necessity. Without him who sustains our lives, life itself is empty. To do without or to betray this focus would deprive life of its very foundation, would take away its inner dignity and beauty.”
Aware that the opportunity to participate in Sunday Mass is increasingly available and increasingly safe for our Catholic people, we are joining dioceses in the Boston Province (Boston, Fall River, Springfield, Manchester, and Portland) in lifting the dispensation of the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation, effective the weekend of June 19 and 20, 2021.
We are mindful of the Lord’s statement: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20). While we certainly can pray alone, there is both strength and blessedness in communal prayer.
We do also note that attendance at Mass is our way of following the Third Commandment of the Decalogue: “Remember the sabbath day – keep it holy. For six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8,11)
We call to mind the many times we see Jesus observing the sabbath by going to the synagogue and teaching there (Mt 13:54, Mk 1:21-28, Lk 4:16-30, Jn 6:22-59). It is a desire of every Christian to conform his or her life to the life of Jesus, and Jesus went to the synagogue on the sabbath.
Most significantly, receiving the Eucharist is the center of every Catholic life. The Lord commands us to take and eat, and to do it in memory of Him. (Mt 26:26-30, Mk 14:22-26, Lk 22:14-20, 1 Cor 11:23-26, CCC 1324). The Eucharist is food for our difficult journey through life, filling us with joy and strengthening us to embrace our suffering. It transforms us from the inside out and creates a unity among us that is a strong witness to the whole world.
Therefore, it is with great confidence and trust in the Lord that we reinstate this Sunday Mass obligation. It has been a long, difficult year. People have experienced great pain and suffering throughout this pandemic. Loss of life has been immense. People continue to recover from the long-term effects of the coronavirus.
The heroes among us — our nurses, doctors, first responders and all medical professionals — were a source of enormous comfort. Priests brought the Sacrament of the Sick to COVID patients. Now we are able to join together, remembering the lives changed and the sacrifices made. Let us gather together again in joy, as one people united around the Eucharist.
In this year of Saint Joseph, who was always a faithful observer of the sabbath, we chose Father’s Day as an appropriate day to encourage all of our people, and especially our families, to return to the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.
This obligation does not apply to those who are ill; those who have been recently exposed to COVID or any other communicable illness; those who are confined to their homes or to hospitals or other facilities due to illness, infirmity, frailty, or age; and those who are not yet able to be vaccinated, due to age or any health consideration. Parishioners should consult their local pastor if they have questions about the obligation.
To all of those who have not been able to be with us during this last year, we look forward to welcoming you back to the celebration of the Mass.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Welcome Fr. Kevin
I'm Father Kevin Pleitez, and I am currently twenty-six years old. I was born in Honduras and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. When I was seven years old, I moved to the United States with my parents and older brother. While growing up, I strove to achieve the "American Dream" by dedicating my time solely to studies, work, and sports. I was very far from the Church and had my ups and downs like any teenager. Although, I had everything: a scholarship to UConn, many friends, and the "freedom" to do anything that I wanted. I still had an immense inner void that only God could fill. At this moment of my life, a friend invited me to return to the Church.
Upon my return, I was baffled by the spiritual richness of the Church and how much I had been missing out. While in the Church, this void began to be filled by gradually experiencing God's love, patience, and forgiveness. This experience enabled me to reassess my life and to discern that God was calling to the priesthood. This led me to enter the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Boston in 2012. As a seminarian, I studied for six years and spent three years as a missionary in Arizona, Minnesota, and in the Holy Land.
A few days ago, I was ordained a priest by Cardinal Sean O' Malley. Looking back into my life, I can truly say that God is faithful and that He acts through His Church. As I begin my ministry, I hope to serve in the same manner as Christ has served me through many priests and ministers in the Church.
Lastly, I'm happy to be assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish and look forward to meeting many of you!
Dear Brother’s and Sisters,
This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Everything began in the region of Liege in Belgium back in the 1200’s. Liege had a monastery that had a great devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Indeed, the city became known as the Eucharistic Cenacle. At that time, a young nun, Saint Juliana, had a vision of a Splendid full Moon with a dark spot. It represented the splendor presence of the Church on earth, but it was lacking a liturgical feast when the faithful could contemplate the Holy Eucharist. After many years that she kept the secret vision to herself, she finally revealed it to the local bishop. After some hesitation, he finally agreed to create this feast in his diocese that soon it spread all over the world. Eventually, in 1264, this feast became official in the whole Church.
Since then, throughout centuries, there was a tradition to process with the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi in Latin) through the streets of the cities. In some places, the tradition continues until today, in which the people from the towns would create special carpets for the procession to go over. In Latin America, there are many places where the whole town come together to prepare long carpets made of saw dust to cover the streets where the Blessed Sacrament is processed. The carpets have many faith inspired figures. This year, we created a carpet for in front of the altar where the blessed Sacrament will be placed that will have a figure of the Holy Spirit, the Body and Blood of Christ, and the Lamb of God. Please come to check it out. We will have a time of Adoration between 2:00 - 3:00pm in the Church, with our procession starting at 3:00pm, which will lead us through the streets of Marlboro until we reach our parking lot. There we will be able to spend some time in adoration lead by the music by cantors of all three communities.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We all know that the Trinity is made of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We often refer to the Father as the creator, the Son as the redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, as the sanctifier. But have we ever wondered what the relationship is among themselves? Do we realize how our God allows himself to be known by man?
St. Patrick is one of the most popular saints who explained the Holy Trinity in a very simple way. When he was explaining to the Celtic people how God is three persons under one God, he used a three-clover leaf. There are three leaves in a plant, but they are all part of the same plant. So it is God. There are three different persons of the Trinity under one God. And how does that union take place? Through LOVE! They all love each other so much that they are united to each other. Pope Benedict summarizes saying that “the Father gives everything to the Son, the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude, and the Holy Spirit is like the fruit of this mutual love between the Father and the Son.”
This great knowledge is not hidden from man, and it is not reserved for the chosen ones or someone with certain skills. It is revealed to all. The first reading today speaks how there is no other god who is so close to his people, who took his people from slavery, or who has spoken directly to them like our God. We know the reason behind God’s intervention in people’s lives. We find the answer in John’s Gospel: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)
Some of this information may seem logical, or something that everyone knows about. But deep down, unfortunately, there are still people who have never heard of it before. I remember Fr Andrea telling me about the experience of his sister in China, who did not know a thing about Jesus. People around us maybe don’t connect the dots to the awesomeness of God. Others could have had their vision/understanding of God blurred by some events of their lives, or even there are people who simply don’t give much thought to God’s immense love. So what can we do to help people have this experience of God? The answer was given by Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel: “GO, THEREFORE, AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIIT, AND TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.”
Last weekend we asked God to send us the Holy Spirit and we were commissioned to bear witness of him with our lives. We as part of the Church are called to participate in her mission of being the prophetic voice of God in the world. By how can we concretely do that as individuals, and, above all as a Parish? I invite you to come and attend our Pentecost Initiative meeting this Tuesday, June 1, at 7pm in the upper church. We will brainstorm ideas of where God wants to lead us, what kind of ministry we need in our parish to help us, and others, to grow in our faith, and people to be part of those ministries.
Father Steven Clemence