FR. RONAN’S BLOG

Thanksgiving – 2020

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As the number of those diagnosed with COVID continues to rise and fear and worry pervade the land, this week we celebrate one of the most cherished of our national holidays, Thanksgiving. Yet, for all of us, things are different this year. There are restrictions on public gatherings and likely many family members cannot come together to share Thanksgiving. Many families have lost loved ones and many more face economic insecurity.

How do we celebrate a day of thanks when so many are suffering, sick, grieving, lonely and fearful? The first Thanksgivings were in response to abundant harvests. Subsequent celebrations also seem to call forth lists of items for which we are grateful. Maybe this year we want to change our approach to Thanksgiving by focusing not on what we have rather on who we are.

Each of us is a child of God, completely unique, precious and one-of-a kind!
We are the work of God’s hands, created in love and for the purpose of love.
Everything we are is gift, every breath, smell, sound and taste. The energy of our Creator is Love and the longing of our hearts is Love. A visceral response to this truth must be gratitude. To give thanks to God for who we are, rather than what we have, is the most fundamental and critical form of gratitude. Living in that gratitude our response to those around us is more naturally authentic, grateful, and loving.

I recall Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends when the host invited
each person gathered to share one thing for which he/she was grateful. Those moments were always beautiful as young and old, college students and grandparents spoke eloquently and from the heart. Yet this year, because we have all been changed by this pandemic, we can do more.

Perhaps Thanksgiving, 2020 offers each of us a sober moment to take stock of the immense struggles all around and perhaps within us. The harshness of this time is inescapable and it can also be an opportunity to strip away any superficialities of this holiday and embrace a new and deeper prayer of thanksgiving for our very being and the love that surrounds us.

Fr. Ronan

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
November 21/22, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Saint Matthew offers a compelling vision of the end-time, when the people of all the nations are brought before the Lord to give an account of their lives and actions.
Interestingly, the sheep, the righteous ones, are rewarded for having acted with love and compassion without having recognized the face of Christ in others. Good stewards recognize those in need of their care as gifts from God. They know that they are the instruments of Christ’s active, loving presence in the world.
How will we treat others this week: our family members, neighbors, customers or strangers?
What accounting will we make to the Lord for their care?

2019-2020 Financial Report

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The Parish Finance Council is pleased to provide the Annual Financial Report of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish for fiscal 2019-2020. (A complete set of the financial statements, including a detailed Balance Sheet is available on our Parish Website, StmaryStcatherine.org)

We are extremely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of both our parishioners and the Charlestown community at large during what has been the most challenging period in our lifetimes. Despite the impact of the pandemic, we ended the fiscal year in a strong financial position with a decline in net assets of only $31,235 as of June 30, 2020. Having to stop the celebration of mass for several months obviously had a negative impact on the primary source of our funds offertory collections. However, an increase of more than $45,000 for the Grand Annual collection conducted at the end of 2019 more than offset the postpandemic decline in collections through June. In addition, an increase in on-line giving helped mitigate the loss of in-pew collections. As a result, our total offertory for the fiscal year of $445,943 exceeded the prior year by approximately $41,000. Because our weekly and monthly collections continue to lag behind normal, pre-pandemic levels by approximately 15%, we would ask that you strongly consider switching to on-line giving if you have not already done so.

Sacramentals were also affected by the pandemic, declining 8% to $45,606.
Rental income of $115,750 remained steady with the prior year. Gifts, and especially bequests, are items that can vary significantly from year to year. Two major bequests totaling $121,459 along with an increase in gifts of nearly $20,000 helped to offset the decline in other sources of funds allowing us to continue our much needed Parish ministries.

Our community’s response to the pandemic is perhaps best illustrated by the incredible support of our most visible ministry, Harvest on Vine Food Pantry. Recognizing that the economic impact of the pandemic would increase the need for food assistance, our parishioners and other members of the community stepped up and contributed over $252,000, an increase of $94,000 or nearly 60%. It is incredibly heartening to see that we, as a Christian community, are truly living the words of the gospel.

With the notable exception of costs associated with the food pantry, all major operating expense categories remained at or below the prior year levels. We have now completed largest capital project undertaken in recent years – the interior painting and restoration of our beautiful church. More than half of the cost of this project ~ $351,000 was incurred by the end of June and is reflected in the accompanying summary. The initial phase of the Inspiring Hope campaign raised most, though not all, of the funds necessary for the restoration. In addition, because many campaign pledges extend over a 5-year period, we obtained a loan from the Archdiocese to ensure that we could complete the project on time. If you have not had an opportunity to contribute to this magnificent project, please consider a gift at this time with a notation of – Painting.

The Parish Finance Council is deeply appreciative of your support, especially this year when many people experienced financial hardships. Our budget for 2020 -2021 projects a deficit. For those of you who are able, we would earnestly ask that you consider increasing the level of your financial commitment to the Parish so we can maintain a balanced operating budget while continuing all of our Parish ministries that help so many in our community. Stay safe and well.

Parish Finance Council
Fr. Ronan (Chair), Nancy Higgins (Vice chair), Brian Fleming, Dennis Hanson, Maureen Moore, Tom Mosel, Bob Rooney, James Santosuosso (Ex-officio), Kevin Walsh

Thirty-Third Sunday Ordinary Time
November 14/15, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the parable of the talents; using the example of money rather than abilities or skills. It’s a story about investments, risks and returns. Stewards understand that God has given them an abundance of spiritual gifts.
They know God doesn’t want them to simply receive these blessings and bury them in fear, but to multiply them; to use these gifts to serve Him and others; to spread Christ’s Good News; to go and make disciples of others. Good stewards invest what God has given them in the service of others and are prepared to render an account when the Lord returns.
Reflect this week on how you are returning your own God-given gifts back to God with increase.

Yes, But …

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Some years ago, I was privileged to befriend a Maryknoll priest who had served many years in mission in Asia. As our friendship grew we often enjoyed times sharing our respective mission experiences, marveling at the similarities across radically different cultures. My years had been spent in Ecuador in the Pacific coastal city of Guayaquil as well as in the Peruvian Andes. Tom spent more than 30 years in urban and rural regions of Asia.

In one conversation, I recall asking Tom how he adapted to such different cultural expectations in his day-to day-ministry. Among other things, he explained he tried to eliminate the word “but” from his vocabulary. I was fascinated and asked him to explain further. He described how the decision altered the way he listened to others, that is it created a space of acceptance to hear the other without constructing a contrary response. My friend invited me to try it – eliminate “but” from my vocabulary. I have been trying to do just that for 20 years, but it is not easy, although it is an enjoyable challenge.

This week we are living might well be recalled as one unprecedented in modern history. Between the pandemic, the national elections, and the economy, combined with pervasive anxiety on the part of many, no one is certain about what tomorrow will bring. The instability of this moment is the perfect time for cynicism and fear to prevail.

Both cynicism and fear feed on themselves. They are self-generating as long as they are given the oxygen of our a0ention. The platforms of all media sources amplify uncertainty and worry. Everyone is weary and we all want the noise to stop.

Is it possible that a choice to stop using the word BUT could help us find a pause/slow down or stop bu0on? When I replace but with and, I can open a space for God’s Grace to enter. For I believe God’s loving Spirit is always present, seeking an entry into our hearts and minds BUT we can be so constrained by the intensity of these times, an entry-point is unavailable. That can change and each of us needs that to change. We desperately need the hope and profound awareness of God’s Love, which is all around us, to prevail.

Try it!

Fr. Ronan

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time November 7/8, 2020

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven with ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five of them were prudent.
The foolish did not prepare for the wait, they brought no extra oil to keep their flames burning bright. The prudent bridesmaids brought extra oil, just in case the wait was longer than they had expected.
And the wait was long. Some of those who were supposed to be waiting were not prepared for the wait, with disastrous consequences.
Good stewards heed Jesus’ warning:
Be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return.
Is your faith strong enough to endure the wait?
Will the “flames” of passion for the Lord endure?
What are you doing to keep your passion for the Lord from burning out?

When They Come Marching In . . .

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As a child, my image of a saint was always someone who seemed very remote from my world. As I grew older and could learn more about the men and women who have been proclaimed saints in our Church, my understanding of them grew as I read their stories, often heroic and sometimes wonderfully simple. I guess I was surprised to realize that, while there are many “great” saints about whom much is known by many (like St. Francis of Assisi and Saint Theresa of Lisieux), there are also a number of great men and women declared saints, about whom less is known and even then, only by a few.

Our Church teaches that we are all called to sainthood – this is our destiny. And I think many of us know firsthand, people whom we consider saints. By “saint” I mean someone who has died and is now with God in Heaven. Furthermore, as a parish priest and one who has been privileged also to serve as a missionary, I am certain that I have known many living saints. They are not officially recognized by the Catholic Church and never will be, and they are not renowned. Yet their lives are powerful examples of selfless love and service, and their witness to the Gospel of Jesus is enduring.

One of the places where I most often hear about saints is walking with families at the time of the death of a loved one. Sometimes the family is ready to speak with us and tell us the story of their loved one’s life. So often these stories are, at the least, amazing. I recall, for example, shortly after I was ordained a priest, meeting a large family who had two elderly maiden aunts and one of them had died. I sat with the family in their simple home and as they gathered around, the stories came out. It seems these two sisters, who worked long hours at a local factory, made all of their nieces and nephews the center of their lives. Their generosity and love, poured out selflessly on each child during all of the various moments of their lives, left a huge imprint of love and goodness. I knew when I was celebrating that funeral Mass, I was praying for a woman who is doubtlessly a saint.

And now many years later, I realize that I am privileged to see and hear about saints everyday – here in Charlestown. They are parents of children, they are grown children of aged parents, they are spouses and aunts, uncles and relatives of folks in extraordinary need and they are amazing friends whose love is pure and selfless. The evidence of sainthood is all around us, yes in parish communities, in neighborhoods and agencies, in hospitals and schools and behind the doors of houses up and down the streets of our town. In my full experience, there is goodness, sacrifice, love and hope in all these places.

That which makes news in our world is much more often the bad rather than the good. I think that is not an accident! Satan is very happy spreading bad news about unhappy, sick and ruthless violent persons and not so content about telling of people whose lives are defined by their faith and their love of God and others. I have grown increasingly skeptical of the loud noise of the media, for my experiences do not concur with the negativity and prominence of selfishness portrayed. While I do not deny its existence, I know that those who strive for lives of faithfulness and love overwhelmingly exceed those who have lost their way. And I firmly believe that love is stronger than hate, and that the darkness will never extinguish the Light.

On Sunday, November 1, we celebrate ALL SAINTS DAY. This is the day that honors all the saints we know and those we do not know, who quietly live the challenges of their lives, one day at a time, with dignity, faithfulness and grace. It is the day that helps us recall the promise of our own destiny – sainthood. This is a destiny that might seem impossible on some of our days, but the saint realizes that “everything is possible with God”, and by the grace of God, even you and I can work towards fulfilling our destiny – sainthood!

Fr. Ronan

All Saints Day Weekend –
October 31/November 1, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his followers about “blessedness,” a word not used much in American culture.
The Beatitudes Jesus evokes in this Gospel reading are not promises of happiness, but promises of a new life with God; blessedness is key to a new way of living through the human experiences of
mourning, meekness, peacemaking, persecution, and poverty of spirit.
For Christian stewards, “blessedness” does not depend on wealth or health or status. Rather, Christian stewards recognize that blessedness is God’s gift. In the kingdom of God, life is not governed by honor and fame, but by the promise of abundant life. Embracing a poverty of spirit and meekness reveal God’s abundant life “breaking into” our world.
Reflect on the Beatitudes this week.
How might they help us improve our relationship with the Lord?

For Whatever You Want

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Throughout my years of ministry, in places near and far, always I come to a place of amazement when persons in trouble, grieving, in need, and broken in spirit find consolation in hearing the 23rd Psalm. For thousands of years this has been true, even to this very time. The imagery is antiquated, the meaning ever-new.

The great Jewish King David, author of many of the Psalms and the author of Psalm 23, was once a shepherd boy. In this Psalm, he places the image of the shepherd at the center of his prayer and casts God in the role of Shepherd: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” The opening line is so familiar that when I quoted it at Sunday Masses, the congregation quickly recited the subsequent line using the most popular translation: “There is nothing I shall want.”

The Psalm continues on with the image of each of us as a sheep and God as our Shepherd. David, in a most profound and simple way, outlines a complete set of circumstances that address our human journey and needs. Our physical needs are well cared for: “green pastures and still waters.” Our very beings are refreshed and restored, and our direction in the journey made right: “He restores my soul. He guides me along right paths.”

Even in dangerous times, we are freed from fear because of the presence of the watchful, able Shepherd: “Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Accompanied by The Shepherd, the journey holds amazing promise of blessings and even reconciliation with foes: “You set a table–perhaps even for my enemies to join me and my cup overflows.”

David concludes this prayer with an absolute profession in his belief in God’s loving care for him—and for us as we pray, “Indeed goodness and mercy surround me all the days of my life—and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The simplicity of Psalm 23 almost obscures how very sublime it is. The prayer speaks to the depths of the human heart.

While the popularity of the Psalm is widespread, it seems that the actual appropriation of the Psalm is very limited. By that I mean so many of us are fraught with the challenges of everyday life and have a sense of the heaviness of living. The worries and the stress, the long hours of work and planning, the saving and earning, the struggle to be healthy and finally to find happiness are part of the life of us all. Some of the younger members of the community feel this more intensely than others, for no one is exempt from the challenges of life.

So how can it be that we profess, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,” but are not able to hold on to this reality in the midst of our struggles? Where is the disconnect?

It seems our faith and our prayers are put aside when we step into the reality of our life. And yet it is precisely there in the come-day go-day movement of our lives that our faith is most needed. If, in those difficult moments, we embrace and internalize the actual meaning of the psalm, then we will truly feel and comprehend what it means to have the Lord as my Shepherd and to want for nothing. And we will understand why Psalm 23 has been loved and prayed for so many centuries.

Fr. Ronan

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 24/25, 2020

There is one command that summarizes this weekend’s Gospel: to love.
For Jesus there is no distinction between these two commands of loving God and neighbor. One naturally flows from the other.
In fact, for Jesus, these commands constitute a way of life for Christian stewards; a unique approach to life and to their relationship with others. Our neighbors include everyone with whom we come into contact:
family members, friends, people we don’t like, strangers and particularly those most in need of our love and compassion.
Love calls us to open our hearts and do more to help others grow closer to the Lord.
How might we follow Christ’s love command more fervently?

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley Statement welcomes Holy Father’s Third Encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” – October 6, 2020

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Pope Francis has given the Church his third encyclical leer, Fratelli tutti, a comprehensive examination of a broad range of issues within countries, and globally across nations and peoples at this moment in history. Like his second encyclical, Laudato si’, this letter is inspired by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The Holy Father went to Assisi to sign and promulgate this most recent teaching document of his Pontificate.

The letter is far too expansive to allow for a summary. Much analysis will be needed to grasp the full scope of the Pope’s call for a “Global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.”

Along with the spirituality of St. Francis, the Holy Father pays tribute to the document he signed recently with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, entitled, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

Pope Francis develops in his new encyclical a vision of fraternity and relationships at multiple levels of life: from personal encounters, to life within nations, to global relations in a world seeking to overcome and recover from the global pandemic of COVID-19. Although the encyclical is addressed primarily to the Church, the Holy Father offers it explicitly for consideration to all people of good will.

Pope Francis specifies issues that render national and global fraternity difficult to achieve in our time. Among those he cites are aggressive nationalism, the virus of racism and a failure to respond to the plight of immigrants and refugees.

To respond to these and other obstacles to fraternity and peace, Pope Francis calls for “A heart open to the world” and a “better kind of politics.” Reiterating his opposition to both war and the death penalty, he concludes the letter with a vision of “Religions at the Service of Fraternity in Our World.”

The new teaching document specifies several themes that are pertinent to our common life in the United States and our role in the world today. I hope it will receive the study, attention and dialogue it deserves within the Church and beyond.

An excerpt from the introduction of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:

  1. The following pages do not claim to offer a complete teaching on fraternal love, but rather to consider its universal scope, its openness to every man and woman. I offer this social Encyclical as a modest contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of present-day attempts to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words. Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.
  2. As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all. Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.
  3. It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women. “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together”.[6] Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.

    CHAPTER ONE –
    DARK CLOUDS OVER A CLOSED WORLD
  4. Without claiming to carry out an exhaustive analysis or to study every aspect of our present-day experience, I intend simply to consider certain trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity.

The entirety of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, can be found here.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 17/18, 2020

Jesus offers us a profound teaching on stewardship in this weekend’s reading: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God?
Christian stewards recognize that everything they have belongs to God. God created them, and God has claims on every part of their existence. They also realize that the sovereign is an institution whose nature and purpose is to promote the common good and protect the welfare of its citizenry.
As long as it accomplishes this mission while treating every single person with deep respect, justice and compassion, it merits the steward’s support and cooperation. Christian stewards know what belongs to the Lord, and they are better citizens when they live their lives according to his Gospel.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Walking through the barrios of Guayaquil, Ecuador one of the first impressions one has is the number of dogs that are everywhere. My old uncle had a saying, “You could always tell a poor man – because he has a dog; you can always tell a very poor man, because he has two dogs!” Even when there is limited food for everyone in the family – the dog is in the midst of the family and receives a little of whatever there is. Of course, here in Charlestown the whole dog thing is huge – and I confess that I add to the affection folks have with dogs with my own Labrador, Lily.

Yet, I find it troubling that, for some, the emphasis placed on pets seems more than concern for people, especially people in need. When a person is found to be abusing an animal, that story might make headlines, especially if the person is some sort of a celebrity. On the other hand, when a person is found to be abusing another person, some don’t consider it to be a big deal. But it is a big deal.

Naturally, human relationships are more complex than our relationships with our pets. Intimate relationships between friends and spouses are especially complex. When all is healthy, people understand the need for each other to express self in open and honest ways grounded in genuine love and care for the other. Yet all too often all is not healthy and one person in a relationship seeks to control the other by the use of physical, emotional, verbal, financial and/or sexual abuse. When this happens, it is called domestic violence.

The best definition of violence I have ever heard is: “Anything done or not done that diminishes the dignity of another”. When you think about that – all of us have been violent and been victims of violence. Yet domestic violence is the systematic use of violence to gain and maintain control over another. Perhaps the first response to this definition is to think I am speaking about something that is uncommon and certainly not in the neighborhood where I live. Sadly that is untrue.

Domestic violence affects anyone regardless of age, gender, identity, sexual orientation, race, country of origin, ethnicity, culture, ancestry, socioeconomic status, religion, etc. It has been estimated that 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Recent statistics in the United States report nearly one in four women experience violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. And it’s reported that during this pandemic time, domestic violence is on the rise. The picture is clear – Domestic Violence is a huge issue and needs to be brought out of the closet and into the light.

The more our community is aware of these realities the safer all persons in our community will be. And while the men and women impacted are many, it is the children who are in families where there is violence who are profoundly affected and often emotionally crippled in their own development.

So what do we do? October is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH. Look around. Learn about resources that are here in Charlestown and in our city that can help someone in an abusive relationship. Talk with a member of the local clergy, speak with a close friend. Often speaking about one’s suffering can be the first step toward receiving help – for everyone concerned.

In God’s eyes, each of us is precious and no person, ever in any way shape or form, has the right to abuse another. When this happens, both the person abused and the abuser need help and need to find healing and support.

Fr. Ronan

Resources For Those Affected By Domestic Violence

In a dangerous or immediately threatening situation, always call 911 first, to keep yourself and your children safe.
MA SafeLink 24/7 Hotline 1-877-785-2020
• The best first step for guidance on how to approach your situation
• Directly connects women to immediate shelter and long-term housing options in Mass.
• Assists with safety planning, crisis intervention, as well as supportive listening and guidance
Multilingual counselors, and access to translation service for over 130 languages
National Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline 1-800-799-7233
• Provides immediate support and guidance, as well as brainstorming help for appropriate next steps Also offers free support via live chat on their website (www.thehotline.org) between 8am and 3am EST, if you are not able to access a safe phone
Passageway at BWH 1-617-732-8753
• Offers legal advocacy services, safety planning, counseling, support groups, and referrals to outside resources like housing & lawyers
• Offers services in English and Spanish, with access to interpreters for other languages
• Locations at BWH, Faulkner Hospital, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Brookside Community Health Center, Whittier Street Health Center, and Mission Hill Community
At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-732-5520, ext. 31808 to page advocate-on-call
HAVEN at MGH 1-617-724-0054
• Provides support groups, counseling, advocacy, workshops, safety planning, resource referrals, and supportive accompaniment to court and other appointments
• Locations at MGH, as well as in Chelsea and Revere
• Offers multi-lingual support through bilingual counselors and on-call translators
At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-726-2241 to page advocate-on-call

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 10/11, 2020

There are a number of Bible verses Christians have memorized. One of them is in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians found in this weekend’s second reading: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). Most people define themselves either by their problems or their possibilities. Fearful people wake up each morning ensnared by their problems. Christian stewards wake up reflecting on their possibilities with confidence and hope.
Some stewardship reflection questions for the week:
What challenges do you back away from because you doubt that you are up to them?
What would you attempt tomorrow if you were sure God would help you?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Statement on Massachusetts Roe Act legislation

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

September 25, 2020
Our country and our Commonwealth are faced these days with multiple issues that are both empirically complex and profoundly moral in their content and consequences. These issues include the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, climate change, poverty and inequality. The Catholic Church, in its teaching and social ministries, is engaged with many other organizations in addressing these questions, and we will continue to do so.

In this statement, however, I wish once again, as I have done in the past year, to raise up for attention a uniquely significant moral question: the issue of abortion. It is uniquely significant because it always involves the right to life, the fundamental human right, which is the foundation of the other spiritual and material rights that comprise the common good of our society. Abortion always terminates a human life.

The right to life of the unborn is deeply threatened by legislation presently being considered in the Massachusetts legislature. The ROE Act is now being debated in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Advocates for this bill describe its purpose as protecting the status and legacy of the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S.

Supreme Court in 1973. As a matter of law, Massachusetts already has among the most extreme abortion laws in the county, and if Roe v. Wade were overturned, abortion rights in Massachusetts would be unaffected. Here in Massachusetts, the proponents of the ROE Act describe its objective as increasing access to abortion.

Tragically, the bill would do this but in a very extreme manner. Specifically, the ROE Act would do the following; it would:
• Allow abortion in Massachusetts during all nine months of pregnancy;
• Eliminate any requirement that even late-term abortions be performed in
hospitals;
• Eliminate the requirement to make efforts to care for a child who survives an attempted abortion;
• Eliminate any requirement that a pregnant minor (under 18) have any adult consent (parental or through the courts) before undergoing an abortion.

The proposed legislation can reasonably be described as radical in its nature and destructive in its consequences. It is being pressed forward as if it were necessary in a state with some of the most expansive abortion laws in the country. By any rational measure, the specifics of the Act cited above are extreme measures in a state already known as widely pro-choice. I regret that fact, but it is a fact.

For almost 50 years, abortion has divided this nation morally, legally and politically. Again, I regret these divisions, but it is not possible to remain silent as this legislation is being pressed upon this Commonwealth. Opposition to the Act is required on moral grounds, indeed on basic human rights grounds.

Our opposition to the ROE Act is not designed to condemn, shame or singleout individuals. The complex conditions which often bring women to undergo an abortion should be acknowledged and recognized. In the face of these situations, the appropriate attitude should be compassion and care. In the Archdiocese, we attempt to offer both through Pregnancy Health and the Project Rachel program. Our deepest concern is to provide help and support to women.


The Church must oppose the ROE Act, and I invite others to consider why we do so. We will publicize our objections in the parishes of the Archdiocese, seeking the support of members of our community. We will continue to explain our views to legislators and urge citizens to express their opposition to their representatives and senators. We will dialogue with our neighbors who may differ with the Church’s position and will do so with care and civility. In the end, we are simply committed to protecting human life in its most vulnerable condition.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 3/4, 2020

This weekend’s Gospel reading poses some challenging
stewardship questions, particularly at a time when so
many people are becoming disengaged
from their faith communities.
When Christ returns, will we be found
working diligently in the Lord’s “vineyard;” converting
our own hearts into a rich harvest of love and compassion?
Calling those outside our vineyard to enter into the joy of
the Lord? Or will we just be living off of what the Lord has
given us, but not sharing God’s love with others?
Jesus’ parable suggests that if we are not good stewards of the
gifts we’ve been given then the gifts will be taken away,
and we will be called to give an account for our failures.
We have all we need for a bountiful harvest, even during
these disquieting times. What will our Lord find when He
returns and asks us to give an account?

What’s the Big Deal ?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Maybe it is because she was a media darling and her person and life cultivated a huge following. Perhaps it is our recognition of the importance of the Supreme Court, the third estate, and the significance it has in the government and wellbeing of our nation. Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contributed deeply to advancing the American Dream.

Gifted with an extraordinary intellect and love of the law, and blessed with a superb education, she used her gifts to address inequality in all forms. While she was especially recognized for addressing gender inequality in the workplace, her decisions and writings had far-reaching impact in the areas of racial inequality as well. She so forcefully opened up the issues of equality for all Americans that consciousness of these critical matters became more and more central in the law and in our own lives.

From before the time I played Little League, it has always amazed me how each of us, no matter how young and little, have a sense of what is fair. We may not like it when it rubs against our personal actions, but there is a universal assent to that old saying: What’s fair is fair!

Philosophers, theologians, jurists, and scholars through the ages have supported what is known as Natural Law Theory. This is a system of laws based on values intrinsic to human nature that each person can deduce through reason and faith.

In the middle ages, St. Thomas Aquinas appropriated these theories from the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Cicero among the Romans. And our own Declaration of Independence has its underpinning in Natural Law, infused with Christianity’s assertion of the dignity of each person.

Justice Ginsburg fought against sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and more for the equality of every person. Her popularity speaks deeply to our human core about fairness for all.

I believe each of us is created by God and within our very DNA we yearn for fairness, justice, harmony, hope, and love. Whenever the law of the land lifts up the essence of these longings, we want to stand and applaud.

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 26/27, 2020

Saint Augustine, a doctor of the church, once wrote that the first, second, and third most important attitude in Christianity is humility. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul is concerned with how we conduct ourselves in our community of faith. He urges us to let our conduct be worthy of the Gospel we say that we believe; and that it all begins with humility.
He asks us to consider others beer than ourselves, and to serve them by looking out for their best interest, not ours. Consider how Saint Paul’s appeal to imitating Christ’s humility can enhance your relationships.

It Is A Vision Thing

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There is an old saying that has always intrigued me: “Tell me where
you stand and I’ll tell you what you see”. I like the saying very much because it helps me realize how my “vision” is limited in so many ways
by my experiences, which are themselves finite. For me, this statement
has many applications. For example, most of us choose friends and colleagues who are like ourselves. We may read the same news reports, listen to the same news shows, belong to the same church community, support the same sports teams, and live in similar neighborhoods. In
many ways, our “vision” may be similar.


Today, we are all “standing” in the middle of a different and very unfamiliar place. Because of COVID, we are all looking out at the world differently than 6 months ago. Everyone, without exception, has been affected. One of the things we do not see clearly is an end to the pandemic and a return to what we considered normal from several months past.


Every day, when the weather permits, I walk from our house in Hayes Square out around the Harborwalk, and across Chelsea St. to Saint Mary’s Church and Parish Center. The walk usually takes around 20 minutes. That is now changed. I need at least 30 – 35 minutes for the walk. You could conclude that I am simply walking slower and that applies to Lily, too. Maybe…. However, the real reason is the folks we meet along the way (many with their dogs) and I desire to pause and chat a bit.


Social distancing and isolation along with working remotely and all the rest
have caused a thirst for human connectedness. People are happy to stop their walking and share a few words whether for the first time or checking-in from last we met. It is wonderful; and it is making me late for Mass!

COVID is causing us to all appreciate one another and relationships we have
taken for granted become more special. “Where I stand …” is more aware of my mortality and the precious gift of life and time. “Where I stand …” is humbly grateful for now having so many items we always took for granted (like toilet paper). “Where I stand …” is frustrated that I have no control over what happens tomorrow and angry that our government is so divided and unresponsive to the poor.

You and I stand in Charlestown (for the most part) and our vision is blurred in these days. This blurry vision causes me to look where I can see more clearly, to focus on that which offers me hope and a path forward: my faith. I firmly believe God is more present than ever in these moments, awaiting our gaze so that we can recognize what truly matters and is life giving. It is and always will be the beautiful sweet mystery of love. See it, seek it, nurture it, cherish it, celebrate it and recall that where love is, there is God.


Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Fifth Sunday
Ordinary Time
September 19/20, 2020

From an early age, we tend to distort the concept of “fairness”:
“I am good. I deserve good things. I am not receiving good things. Something must be wrong. Who’s going to fix it?”
We also know the age-old expression: “Who ever said life was fair?”
Jesus knew this expression when he offered his parable in today’s Gospel reading. Christian stewards acknowledge, with humility, that they receive good things from the Lord in abundance; even if these gifts are not the ones they think they need when they need them.
Consider which servants you identify with most in the Gospel reading, the ones who demand “fairness”,
or that final servant who, seemingly, deserves the least.

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