Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend traditionally we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. This is a time for us not only to support the catechists of our parish, but it gives a time to reflect about the importance of religious instruction. By instruction, I not only consider the Children in CCD, but also adult faith formation. God and our faith cannot be summarized in a course of a period of instruction. These fundamental elements of our life require a lifelong formation.
Our faith journey begins first when we are born. Many Popes have always considered the family as the first school of love. There we first learn about God’s love. We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2223, Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. It adds “Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel.”(#2226) By raising a child in an environment of love and respect, the child can see God’s love reflected in the love of their parents. Our formation continues after we receive baptism and are slowly introduced to our faith as infants. Our parents, as the first teachers in the ways of faith, teaches us that God loves us and to love him back. As we learn our night prayers and how to make the sign of the cross, we are also taught how God is present in the church and during mass.
When we enter first grade, the formal teaching of religion begins in our parish. It is the first of two-year preparation to do first communion. As the generous brothers and sisters share their talent helping the children to prepare for first communion, they also continue teaching them the other elements of our faith through grades 3 to 8. At 9th grade, the teens begin their first year of preparation for confirmation. The teaching is not merely intellectual, but also very existential. We teach the youth their faith from their day-to-day perspective. We aim to help them to live out their faith that they were instructed up to that time.
After confirmation, we are all called to continue deepening our faith either on our own, or with the participation of some group of the church. There are many groups today that help us through this process, such as the Bible Study that meets on Saturdays, the book club that read and discuss different topics of our faith, St. Vincent de Paul that lives out the call to charity, and some others. We also offer different talks through the year covering different topics. There are some resources as formed.org (free for all parishioners) that also offer series on the sacraments, documentaries, audiobooks, classes, movies and much more. This year we also have some plans to offer more formation to all parishioners. Another very important element of adult faith formation is the sacramental preparation for adults who, for whatever reason, need to receive baptism, first communion or confirmation. The RCIA, which stands for Ritual of Christian Initiation of Adults, which is also used for anyone who would like to join the Catholic Faith. Each year we always have a class to help people to be initiated in the sacraments.
Finally, I would like to ask your prayers for all those in our parish that are called and exercise the ministry of Catechist, whether as parents, teachers, group leaders or people of good will who teach others by their witness of life. As we pray the following prayer from USCCB, I ask you to keep them in your prayers, so that they maybe the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do.
Prayer for Catechists
Loving Father, we pray today for our catechists. We thank you for their gift of ministry in your Church. Grant them your wisdom that they may grow in the understanding and teaching of your Word. Grant them also your love that they may be fruitful heralds of your Word and lead others to love you. Pour forth your Holy Spirit upon them to grant them wisdom about what is important; knowledge of the truths of faith; understanding of their meaning; right judgement about how to apply them in life; courage to persevere even in the face of adversity; reverence before all that is sacred and holy; and that loving zeal which leads others to a transforming encounter with your Son. We pray this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Please see the letter below from our St. Vincent de Paul group about the upcoming Friends of the Poor Walk on September 25th. We hope to see you there!
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a National and International Lay Catholic Society founded in the 1600’s which offers tangible assistance to those in need on a person-to-person basis. It is this personalized involvement that makes the work of the Society unique. A keystone of the Society's work is to provide help while conscientiously maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of those who are served, and we serve all in our community in need of assistance, regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity, or beliefs. We strive to bring the love and peace of Christ to those we serve in the spirit of Christ's words in the 25th Chapter of Matthew's Gospel, “For I was hungry and you gave me food.”
Our motivation for starting the Conference at Immaculate Conception Church was born of the pressing financial and social needs we recognized among our neighbors in Marlborough. The St. Vincent de Paul Society was originally started in our parish in 1901 and has been active during different periods over the past 120 years at our parish. This year we are celebrating 5 years since being rejuvenated at our Parish!
In the last 5 years that we’ve been performing our mission and ministry in Marlborough, we have assisted over 1225 people and provided almost $250,000 of assistance with food, rent, clothes, and many other needs, in addition to providing referrals to State & local agencies, and being a listening ear for those we assist. We are so thankful to the Immaculate Conception Parish community for your generosity with your prayers and your financial support. Your donations go directly to assist those in need in our community.
We are holding our annual Friends of the Poor Walk on Saturday September 25. This is the only fundraiser we hold to support our ministry. Check-in starts at 9:30am at Meehan Hall, and the walk starts at 10am, 3 miles on the Assabet River Trail. If you're not able to join us but would like to donate, please go to www.marlboroughfopwalk.org You can also register to walk online before the walk.
If you would like more information about St. Vincent de Paul, would like to get involved, or are in need of assistance, please contact us at 978-763-0578or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we thank the Immaculate Conception community for all the support you provide us!!
Friends of the Poor® Walk
To benefit works of charity in our community
Saturday, September 25th, 2021
10:00 AM start
on-site registration begins at 9:30 AM
Immaculate Conception Meehan Hall
119 Washington St, Marlborough
3 mile round-trip walk along the rail trail To register online or donate, please visit
For more information:978-763-0578 or
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend’s first reading begins with the words of God to Isaiah: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!” I believe that these words come at the perfect time for us, as there are many issues around that can cause fear and apprehension in our hearts.
We can create an endless list that frightens our hearts. It can go from the rise of Delta cases, to the increase of the opioid crisis, mental health, the instability of the house market, the shortage of supplies, the recent decisions of government leaders, sugar levels, cholesterol, first day of school for the kids…. Depending how we see life, we can say that everything is a threat to us. The moment that we lose sight of God and start looking only at ourselves we can easily panic. These are the moments that are important for us to stop, and take a step back. Contemplation and reflection are very important weapons that the Church teaches against anxieties. When we stop and look deeper into our lives, especially those (including extremely) difficult moments that we went through, how did we get past those events? What was that source that strengthened, encouraged, sustained us during those periods? There we find the answer for all our troubles. God always comes to save us! He may not give what we desired or asked for, but certainly He never turns his back on us.
As I was watching the news this week and praying for the recovery of the people in Louisiana after hurricane Ida struck it, I began to remember the month that I spent there on the fourth anniversary of Katrina. Looking at the neighborhoods that were mostly affected, I thought to myself, how can people move on after losing everything. Again, only looking into our reality, we forget all the other people that were able to reconstruct their lives. We have had many hurricanes in the short and long past that have caused great damages, including our own church! And what has happened after all that? God always helps us to get back on our feet and continue our journey to heaven. Yes, there are many difficulties in our lives (who said that they weren’t), but greater the challenge, even greater will be God’s intervention, as the first reading continues, “Here is your God… He comes to save you.”
This weekend we have the opportunity to come and contemplate how much God has done in our lives during our 24Hr Adoration. It’s important to be reminded how close God is to us and how He never abandons us. This particular adoration, we will also pray for all of those suffering from addiction and substance abuse. I encourage you to pray also for their families, as they accompany the struggles of their loved ones. We are not here to judge anyone, but only to support and accompany them in such a difficult journey. As there are many sad stories involving this issue, there are also many happy endings to those who were able to get back on their feet.
Everyone is welcome to come and pray. Whether you want to bring a friend or the children, the church will remain open from Sunday 6pm to Monday 6pm with the blessed sacrament exposed. If you would like to sign up for an hour you can go to the parish website or our Facebook page. Otherwise come at any time! Look up to the Lord, and let him strengthen and encourage you. As Christ says in the Gospel, “come to me all of you who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Addiction affects the lives of almost half of Americans in the US. According to the recent numbers 1 of 7 adults suffer from at least one addiction, and 46% of Americans has a family member or a friend who battling addiction from addiction. It’s important for us to understand first what is an addiction, how it impacts the brain function, so that we can understand better those who are struggling.
There are two very important brain activities that are affected with addiction, they are the limbic system and the cortex. The first is responsible for our basic survival instincts. Whenever we perform essential activities to stay alive, such as, eat, drink, rest, care of the young, the brain reinforces the behavior by releasing dopamine. This hormone gives the sensation of “feel good” or pleasure. The memory of such feeling of reward is recorded in our brain, so that we can seek it again. This is our survival hardwiring. The second, the (pre-frontal) cortex, regulates our decision making and it controls our impulses. When a person has an addiction, whether substance abuse or something else, the addictive activity activates the same dopamine process from the “survival center”. The problem begins when such activity is repeated, it can “hijack” the usage of our brain to the point that it will change/rewire the brain, to make it believe that the addiction is a prime need for survival. By hijacking the brain, the addiction will change our decision making and control our impulses, so that the person is no longer making rightful decisions. It can even substitute or even “eliminate” the survival activities. One can say that it’s not logical or rational, that’s because the brain is no longer capable of making the right decisions or holding the impulses because of the hijack. As a consequence, the body will require more and more of the addiction in order to activate the same level of reward or pleasure that it would be natural for the person. All of this process also harms the brain tissue causing further consequences. This is a very simplistic explanation of the process of addiction. More could be said about the neurotransmitters that are not “enticed” with simple things after addiction, being necessary for greater pleasures.
Once we grasp a little the process of addiction, we understand a little better the struggle that people go through. The person may have made a willful decision to engage in such behavior, but the addiction will eliminate the will power to come out of it. More often than not, the addiction itself causes much pain and shame for the people more for not being able to come out of it or to stop. They would love to come out of it, but many times they can’t. So how can they be helped?
Although it’s a modern discovery, starting in 1950 and really growing in the 90’s, the study of brain disorder and substance abuse has developed a lot ever since. There is treatment out there that helps the brain to be healed, and the brain activities will no longer be hijacked by the addiction. Studies report that although a very large percentage of the population suffers from addiction, only a small fraction seeks treatment. Another element is also the shame or the stigma about addiction or substance abuse. In all treatments, family support is always the greatest ally in this battle. That’s why we as Catholics are called to step up and support not only those suffering from addiction, but also those around them. It’s not a matter of judging, bashing people, but recognizing that it’s a very difficult battle. I would like to invite those who are available to pray for those struggling with addiction in our next 24hr adoration over Labor day weekend (Sunday September 5th from 6pm – Monday 6pm). I would also like to invite those available to participate in the Candlelight Vigil this Tuesday August 31st in observance of Overdose Awareness Day. It starts at 6:45pm with a slideshow memorial and the event itself will start at 7:30pm. It will take place in front of the Walker building, but in case of rain, it will in the Lower Church or Meehan Hall. Let’s remember and pray for 2,104 people who died of overdose in Massachusetts this past year out of 93,000 who passed in the US. Let us ask our Heavenly Father to have mercy and them and may Mother Mary console their families and their loved ones, and May St. Monica whose feast day was Friday give strength to all mothers whose children struggle with addiction.
Father Steven Clemence