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Tree lighting on USS Constitution

Come to the Charlestown Navy Yard this Sunday from 3-6PM for the annual tree lighting aboard USS Constitution, the country’s oldest commissioned warship afloat! Milk and cookies will be available for kids!

Photo: http://www.history.navy.mil/USSconstitution/media.html

Vocation events in your area

Fiat! A group for discerning women

Dec. 14, 3-5PM, San Damiano Prayer House, Lowell

Fiat! is a discernment group for single women considering a vocation to religious life in the Catholic Church. Discover God’s call for you! Come to their next gathering on December 14 from 3-5 p.m. at San Damiano House of Prayer on 333 Pawtucket Ave. in Lowell. For more info, contact Sr. Marian Batho at (617) 746-5637 or sr_marian_batho@rcab.org.

The Samuel Circle for discerning men

Dec. 23, 7-9PM, Assumptionist Center, Brighton

Samuel Circle holds gatherings for single men discerning religious life. Come to their next pizza, lectio divina, sharing-Q&A, and fellowship meeting at the Assumptionist Center on 330 Market St. in Brighton. For more info, contact Fr. Rocco Puopolo at (508) 429-2144 or frrocco@xaviermissionaries.org.

Homelessness in America and at home

Nationally

In the United States, 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year. The following statistics are taken from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness:

  • 35% of the homeless are families with children, the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
  • 23% are U.S. military veterans.
  • 25% are children under the age of 18 years.
  • 30% have experienced domestic violence.
  • 25% have suffered from mental illness.

In Massachusetts

Closer to home, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless posts the following statistics:

  • As of November 25, 2014, there were approximately 4,800 families with children and pregnant women in the Massachusetts Emergency Assistance shelter program. 1,743 of these families with children are sheltered in motels. This number does not include families who are doubled up, living in unsafe conditions, or sleeping in cars.
  • During state fiscal year 2014, 6,562 families were assisted with emergency shelter and/or HomeBASE household assistance, out of the 13,115 families who applied.

In Boston

In Boston, more than 700 people have been displaced by the closing of the city’s largest homeless shelter on Long Island in Boston Harbor. The closing appears to have been made without any plan to accommodate shelter residents, who have since been housed in gymnasiums and other temporary locations. Religious leaders are urging concerned citizens to contact Mayor Walsh and ask him to resolve this problem.

How the Catholic Church is helping

The Catholic Church is built on supporting the underprivileged. As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of every human person. In a recent statement called Standing in Solidarity with All, the four bishops of the Commonwealth state that “hundreds of families are doubling-up in inadequate housing or are being squeezed into already overwhelmed shelters and motel rooms. We face a punishing intersection of rising human needs and declining resources that threatens the dignity of the human person and the stability of family life.”

In the Archdiocese of Boston, Catholic Charities operates an emergency homeless shelter in Somerville. In Roxbury, St. Patrick’s Shelter for Homeless Women houses 30 women in emergency beds on a night-by-night basis. Catholic Charities shelters are filled by referral by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Passing legislation

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) has asked the Massachusetts House of Representatives to increase funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, and to eliminate restrictions for Emergency Shelter Access eligibility. These restrictions could exclude thousands of children from accessing the safety net of a shelter. Many of these children have fled from domestic violence situations. Recognizing that the problem is not going away, the MCC urged the House to pass the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness, a committee that will continue to address this issue in the future.

In Charlestown

Even when a homeless family finds housing, the battle is not over. In Charlestown, when a homeless family is placed in an apartment, they arrive without beds, bedding, furniture, and kitchen utensils. In most cases these families are coming from a shelter or motel with only the clothes on their back. Thanks to the Parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and the generosity of our parishioners, we are able to help the families who face these dire situations, providing them with beds, kitchen sets, chairs, and tables. And we immediately enroll them in Harvest on Vine emergency food pantry.

For additional information and how you can help

On Monday, January 5, at 7:00 p.m., the St. Vincent de Paul Society will hold a meeting in the Parish Center with the hope of increasing our membership. Please attend if you would like to learn more about this outstanding program.

On Wednesday, December 17, Heading Home, Inc. will use Harvest on Vine’s space to give Christmas gifts to families who were once homeless. Heading Home is located in the Schrafft Center. They provide emergency, transitional, and permanent housing. They also provide services to homeless and formerly homeless families in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Malden, Everett, and Quincy.  (headinghomeinc.org)

Tom MacDonald

Director of Social Ministry

tmacdonald@stmarystcatherine.org

Learn more about St. Vincent de Paul Society with an INFO SESSION at the Parish Center, 46 Winthrop Street, on January 5 at 7:00 p.m.

Cardinal Seán on hope, peace, and compassion

“In this Holy season of Advent the Church’s message is one of hope and peace. It is a time for reflection, prayer and reaching out to those in need. These themes—hope, peace and compassion—are urgently needed in our nation as we pray for the Brown and Garner families and all who have been impacted by the turmoil of recent weeks.

Issues concerning race in our society call for recognition of our shared humanity. We are all well served by productive dialogue and cooperation between the members of our communities and those in public service. Each person’s dignity must be respected and protected, while the safety and good of all people is upheld.

We are grateful for the thoughtful leadership shown by Governor Patrick, Mayor Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner Evans as citizens have expressed their concern that there be effective means of providing social justice, equality of opportunity and respect for all. May peaceful dialogue on these important issues be a source of betterment for our society.”

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, excerpted from cardinalseanblog.org

So, how do you prepare?

There is so much noise and so many distractions in these December days that it causes me to wonder how one really can get prepared for Christmas. In the broader society, prepared means you have “all of your shopping done”. Yet the deeper truth is that preparing is actually something else entirely. It is an inner thing.

Continue reading So, how do you prepare?

Revised date for next Book Club

The Parish Book Club will meet at the Parish Center on January 7, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. The group will discuss Francis of Rome and Francis of Assisi: A New Springtime for the Church by Leonardo Boff. All are welcome to enjoy a good read, meet  your parishioners, and participate in the Book Club’s lively discussion!

Fiat! A Group for Discerning Women

Fiat is a discernment group for women in the Archdiocese of Boston who are considering a vocation to religious life. Our next meeting will be an Advent Evening of Recollection on Wednesday, December 10 from 7:00–9:00 p.m. at the Sisters of Saint Joseph, 637 Cambridge St., Brighton. For more information please contact Sister Marian Batho, CSJ at 617-746-5637 or Sr_Marian_Batho@rcab.org.

Immaculate Conception

Immacuate Conception

Monday 12/8

8:00AM

7:00PM

St. Catherine of Siena Chapel

Entrances on Warren and Winthrop under St. Mary’s Church

The Year of Consecrated Life

Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 a Year of Consecrated Life, starting on the First Sunday of Advent, the weekend of November 29, 2014, and ending on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church. Its purpose, as stated by the Vatican is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”

Please pray for all women and men who have consecrated their lives to God and for an increase in vocations to religious life.

Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life

O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Advent Twilight Retreat

Thursday, December 18, 7PM

In this season of anticipation for the Incarnation of God among us once again, come apart with other members of our parish community to pray, to listen, to welcome Jesus, Word from the Heart of God, within your own heart on Thursday, December 18 at 7PM in the St. Catherine of Siena Chapel.  Guided by Fr. Jim Ronan and Sr. Nancy Citro, SNDdeN. There will be an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance at the conclusion of the retreat. In order for us to plan for this service, please RSVP by December 15.