From the Pastor

From Pastor John Sheridan

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Growing up in Newton in December was very interesting. So many of our classmates and friends weren’t Christian, and I often wondered what folks of other faiths thought at this time as our world is filled with music, laughter, lights, and food, leading up to the unabashed joy of Christmas Day.

December brings so much to all of us- so many memories- many very happy, some difficult, too. Some reach back and yearn for a time that has passed. Others look ahead.

As much as Advent calls us to look ahead with joy, it calls us to focus, to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for the coming Savior. How beautiful that in the midst of the chaos this season brings that we should pause and rejoice in the Blessed Mother on the feast of her Immaculate Conception. She, in her humility, her openness, and her love calls us to slow down, to find comfort and courage and look ahead to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

During this season when we seem to rush around at a dizzying pace, let’s take time to pause and learn from our Blessed Mother to look beyond the displays and find the presence of Christ. She is pointing Him out, encouraging us to look to Him, to follow Him.

I grew up a stone’s throw away from an historic place: Echo Bridge. It spanned two towns- Newton and Needham, and it’s a great place to take a quiet walk and admire nature as it changes through the seasons. When I think of parishes working together as we are beginning to do, I always think about bridges, starting with Echo.

St Mary- St. Catherine and St. Francis de Sales parishes are beginning the process of building a bridge- becoming a collaborative. Our parishes, rich in history and with so much to share, will embark on a mission to work closer together. How? That remains to be seen. This will be my third collaborative, and each came into their own in different ways. We will share not only a pastor, but we’ll also share supplies, facilities, liturgies, communications, schedules, councils and more.

There will be changes as time goes by, and I’m going to lean on the strength and ask for the counsel and support of our staff, and parish pastoral and finance councils as we walk through the decisions. The Archdiocese will help us, giving us assistance, recognizing that we will cross our bridge as God calls us here, in our own way.

I want to make it clear that as we begin this new period that what makes each parish extraordinary remains as it is. As you heard me say last weekend, I’m here to build. It’s going to take a while, I ask your patience, as well as your prayers.

Fr. John

With Christmas coming we’ll need help with the additional worshipers that will be coming into the Parish for Christmas Eve Family Mass at 4pm, Christmas Day Mass at 8am and 10:30am. We need Ushers to help with quickly assisting with collection and helping greeters finding seats during mass. If you can help please email dludy@stmarystcatherine.org

or call 617-242-4664. Please note which mass you will be able to help with and be willing to be available 15-30 mins prior to mass.

There are Christmas Flower envelopes in the back of the Church for those who would like to make a donation in memory of a loved one. The flowers are placed on the Altar for Christmas. Be sure to include the name of your loved one on the envelope. Names submitted by Friday, December 16 will be included in the bulletin for Christmas. All names received after that date will be added to a future bulletin. You may drop the envelope in the collection basket or mail to the Parish Center at 46 Winthrop Street.
Thank you.

GIVING TREES!

As is our tradition, your generosity provides Christmas aid to St. Mary Center for Women and Children, Charlestown Recovery House, Veterans Shelter, our Parish’s Conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and Sisters of Saint Joseph Prison Ministry.

Due to COVID restrictions, some of our giving tree tags request gift cards or monetary donations. Please see specifics below:
 St. Mary Center for Woman & Children—specific request for a gift.
 Charlestown Recovery House – please give a gift card, T-Pass, or Dunkin Donuts gift card.
 Veterans Shelter — please give a gift card, T-Pass, or Dunkin Donuts gift card.
 St. Vincent de Paul Society— a monetary donation is requested for clients in our Parish who have many different needs, ie. rental assistance, beds, and a myriad of other requests.

Checks should be made payable to St. Vincent de Paul Society.

 Sisters of St. Joseph Prison Ministry – Due to Dept. of Corrections security regulations, monetary donations are requested. The Chaplain will buy needed items such as combs, shampoo, soap, deodorant, calendars, lotion, tooth paste, stationary, and pens which will then be inspected by DOC.

Once the items are approved by security, the items will be assembled in gift bags within the prison by Chaplaincy Volunteers. Checks should be made payable to Sisters of St. Joseph Prison Ministry”

Donations may be placed under the tree. Please place the tree tag on the outside of the gift/envelope. Please submit your donations by December 20th for delivery.

My brothers and sisters
in Christ:

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena
Fr. Sheridan

Advent is my favorite time of year- the world is transforming, and hopes are high- we’re all looking forward to things to come. Plans are being made, dreams are shared, and the Scriptures sing of prophets with messages of hope. It’s a time of beginnings- and we begin together here in this great town of rich history and cutting-edge hopes for the future. Both parishes have great histories and traditions (thank you, Frs. Mahoney, Ronan, and Frs. Vin & Ron) and I’m privileged to help write the next chapter of what’s ahead.

An introduction, I believe, is in order: My father, Denis, came from Louisburg, Co. Mayo, my mom, Elizabeth, was baptized right round the corner from here at St. Joseph’s in Somerville and grew up in Waltham and Newtonville (they met while she was working at Filene’s in town).

I grew up the eighth of nine siblings (who I am very close to) in Newton Upper Falls, went to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish and through the Newton Public Schools, and entered the seminary in 1982. I was ordained on June 16, 1990, and have served in a variety of places, in city, suburban and even rural parishes.

I am a part of the Vatican II/Pope John Paul II generation, inspired by his call on that rainy day in 1979 in the Boston Common, challenged and encouraged to minister to all peoples, especially the poor. I am a devoted Bruins fan (I can recite the entire ‘71-72 roster) and Red Sox fan, and enjoy movies, music, and technology.

I come here as pastor of two parishes with the goal of building a collaborative- something I’ve done twice before and look forward to being about again- working with staff, councils, and the people of the parishes of Charlestown. I’m already impressed with what I’ve already seen, and I can’t wait to get to it.

The first weekend of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year, and the perfect opportunity to start. May our Blessed Mother bless us as we begin together. St. Mary, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

Fr. Sheridan

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception

We are celebrating the feast on Wednesday, December 7 with a vigil Mass at 6:30 pm in the Church and an 8:00 Mass on December 8 in the Church. It is a Holy Day of Obligation.

Advent Prayer and Reconciliation Service Thursday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Saint Mary’s Church.

The Advent Season is an appropriate time of year to reflect on our lives in a Sacramental way,
and to engage in special moments of prayer to prepare for a new birth of Christ in our hearts this Christmas season.
It’s a time to set our course for the New Year!
Let’s come together as a community of faith and give ourselves the gift of time to slow down and ponder the many ways in which God blesses and sustains each of us in our daily lives, and longs to grow closer to us with unconditional love.
At the conclusion of the Service, if you choose, you may receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation privately with a priest. We hope you will join us for this extraordinary time of prayer.

2022 Finance Reports

Finance Reports

Friends!

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Friends,
Once again I write to you to say “thank you” for welcoming me into your town and parish as interim administrator as you await the arrival of your new pastor. As you may remember I was here for the month of June and then returned in mid-October. I will be leaving on November 25. That is the day Fr. John Sheridan will arrive. Since Fr. Mahoney and Fr. Ronan retired on June 5th, the parishes have been in limbo. Fr. Vin Gianni was here temporarily from July 1 through mid-October. The presence of Fr. Sheridan will bring some necessary stability to the Catholic community of Charlestown. He is a wonderful person and a faith filled priest. He brings with him valuable experience, a sense of humor and a love for ministry.

Since I was the pastor at St Catherine from 1990 – 1996 your community has undergone many changes and at the same time there is a strong history and tradition that is a source of great pride. I have truly enjoyed my ministry among you as I have renewed many friendships and welcomed new people into my life. One of my greatest joys is writing columns for the weekly church bulletin. It is an opportunity to let our parishioners know who I am and hopefully add to the knowledge and understanding we have of our faith, the Church and ourselves. Many people have commented on how much they enjoy reading my thoughts because it challenges us to rethink some of the beliefs and teachings that we believed were written in stone, but can be understood in new ways that can bring us to healthier concepts of God and ourselves.

I read recently this statement from Ben Sasse who now holds political office but hopes to be a college president. “Education, properly understood, isn’t exclusively – or even primarily – about transmitting information. Education is about learning how to humbly and meaningfully engage ideas.” We as Catholic Christians, who are passionate about our faith, have the privilege of sharing our beliefs with others. We also can benefit greatly from learning about the life experiences and beliefs of those who understand God differently than we do.

The neighborhood of Charlestown and the Catholic community have had a major impact on my life. I am grateful for your affirmation and example. You are in my prayers.

Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne

Friends,

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I’m a believer that whatever takes place in the world forces each of us to reevaluate our faith and our value system. We live at a time when issues have become so volatile: social issues, political issues, moral issues. This can be very frightening to so many and their response is to revert back to “the good old days” and imagine that if we just could live again as we did then, life would once again be stable and predictable.

I understand that yearning and nostalgia for the past. The Church in a sense is caught in the middle because the citizens of our Church are also citizens of our world. The issues they face are the issues we must face. The result is that religion itself can become so controversial. For example, the Catholic Church as an institution is asked to make statements and proclamations about legal, sexual and life-altering procedures.

In some cases the ballot questions during an election year force us to look at the proposed changes and cast our vote. In these cases, we may decide to cast our vote in line with Catholic Church teaching and believe every Catholic should feel the same way. However, we then speak with family or friends who are also Catholic who disagree and vote differently. It can even be more complicated when we read that the bishops of our Church may even look at many of these issues with various perspectives. Some may be very comfortable dictating that Catholics must adhere to Catholic teaching in all these areas, while other bishops are very comfortable in acquainting us with Church teaching but also respect our right to form our own conscience as we listen, read and face these challenging issues.

Then there’s also life at the parish level. Just as in a diocese the bishops can set the tone, so it is at the local parish where the pastor decides the priorities.

Some pastors are more collaborative than others which means they would do more consulting and enter into dialogue with parish leaders and those in ministry positions before decisions are made. The dividing line between politics and religion has gotten much thinner, which is why the Catholic Church has a much more difficult challenge in the 21st century.

Here are some of the issues that Catholics will expect their Church to face in today’s world. We may be in agreement with our Church or disappointed with our Church. Some may choose to leave their local parish or even leave the Church over the Church’s public stand on the following: immigration, gender identity, the environment, the just war theory, remarriage outside the Catholic Church, same sex marriages, abortion, women in ministry, who is welcome at Communion and clergy sex abuse.

This is the world of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I want the Catholic Church to speak to their world and accompany them on their journey. In order to do that effectively we have to listen and respect their life experience and learn from their story. What a privilege it is for the Church and those in ministry to be invited.

Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne

Friends !

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Fr. Coyne

Friends,

As I write these notes I am anticipating the mid-term elections on Tuesday, November 8 and hoping that the majority of American will cast their votes. That statement in itself is lowering the bar because a majority is one over half (meaning just over 50%). I will be amazed if that many people vote. How sad is that! When I was growing up our family was a priority; it was where we received our value system and where we set our priorities. Next to our families it was the country and the Church that taught us right from wrong. The United States and the Catholic Church reinforced what we were taught at home. It was just understood and expected that we celebrated our faith each week at Mass. It was also understood that when we turned 18 we would begin a lifelong experience of voting in local and national elections. I’d also say that our school system and education strongly encouraged each of us to belong to a faith tradition and take our responsibility and privilege of participating in elections seriously.

WE always voted on election day and I Loved the experiences of being part of the process for which our ancestors fought. That freedom is a gift and being surrounded by so many others as we stood in line to vote was a proud moment for me. In 2008 and 2016 the line actually stretched the entire length of Holy Name schoolyard.(It reminded me of standing in line for the Saturday night dances in high school). I have to admit the past 2 elections I voted by mail. I never thought I would vote early or by mail but I am grateful for the opportunity. The pace of life today demands that we expand the avenues for Americans to participate in this right and this responsibility. So I continue today to be a Catholic American and an American Catholic and very proud of both affiliations.

So for me it was truly the Church and country that reinforced my value system and continues to do so.

I wonder what has replaced those two institutions for our young people today. It is obvious that the great majority of our children, youth and young adults are no longer celebrating their faith at Church on a regular basis and I respect that choice although it is a huge loss to the Church and I believe a loss to our families. It is also obvious that the majority of our young people are not participating in the voting process and I respect that choice although it is also a huge loss to the country and I believe a loss to the younger generations. I realize the world is changing rapidly and I am a product of my upbringing which I believe worked out very well for me.

So, my question again is what has replaced the Church and the country as strong support systems for parents who are attempting to raise their children in today’s environment? Where do our children, teenagers and young adults turn to when they are seeking out how to make decisions in their lives? As individuals we cannot make decisions in a vacuum. We need to be reminded that it’s a big world out there and each of us has responsibilities in this world. The Church and the country always reminded me that it’s not about me, it about us.

Celebrating my faith each week and participating in the elections process doesn’t mean I agree with my Church or my country, all the time. If does mean I value the presence of each of them in my life enough to challenge them to be all I believe they are meant to be. Obviously these are priorities for me and I can’t be a part of the solution if I divorce myself from either institution.

Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne

Saints

SPECIAL REQUEST

Fr. Coyne

On All Saints Day, we decided to have a little fun during the homily. I shared with the Congregation the following Patron Saints. There are so many others but I was aware of the time constraint. If you look into some of the history of these men and woman (only 1 included) it makes some sense that they’d be identified with these areas of concern. Some of what we read about the saints is legend.

Matthew – Accountants
Genesius – Actors
Gabriel – Broadcasters
Martha – Cooks
Francis of Assisi – Ecologists
Peter – Fisherman
Joseph of Arimathea – Funeral Directors
Valentine – Lovers
Jerome -Librarians
David – Poets
Jean Vianney – Priests
Vitus – Dancers
Christopher – Travelers
Michael – Police
Florian – Firefighters

Thank you Veterans

Veterans Day Prayer

Dear Lord, today we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country. We pray that you will bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us. Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them, and we pray that you will watch over these special people and bless them with peace and happiness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friends!

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Friends,
Last weekend I paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 65). This monumental meeting of the Bishops throughout the world was called by Pope John XXIII and had its opening session in October of 1962. The documents and teachings of this Council sent shockwaves throughout the Catholic Church.

Prior to the “Ecumenical” Council (because it also invited other Christian religions to participate) Catholic Church theology (understanding of God) and ecclesiology (understanding of the Church) was based primarily on the teachings of Vatican I (1870) and the Council of Trent (1545). As I mentioned in my homily, the 2nd Vatican Council truly made it possible for me to reconcile my humanity with my priesthood.

I spoke about 10 areas of the teachings of Vatican II that I believe, transformed the direction of the Catholic Church in a positive way. Some people requested that I make these available in the bulletin. I am privileged to do so. The 2nd Vatican Council is primarily responsible for these insights which changed my life and my ministry.

  1. Mass (the Eucharist) is now seen as a community celebration, not a private devotion. You are as important to this celebration as I am.
  2. God loves me unconditionally – I cannot earn or lose that love.
  3. No religion is favored by God over others. The Catholic Church and God are
    not equal. As an example, the Council forced us to face our antisemitism.
  4. The Bible is meant to be taken seriously but not always literally: we are encouraged to study the history and background of Scripture.
  5. It is our Baptism that gives us rights, responsibilities and privileges in the
    Church, not being ordained a priest.
  6. It is no longer the Church and world (we are not enemies) It is the Church IN
    the world. The Church is a human institution and we must adopt with the
    times.
  7. The Sacraments were not always celebrated the way they are today. They evolve
    as we better understand their purpose
  8. Every Catholic person must form his/her own conscience through prayer, listening to the Church and learning from their own life experience. We then may
    disagree with the institution and still be a good Catholic.
  9. The Catholic Church must challenge each of us to take responsibility for those who are marginalized, ostracized and have the least opportunities among us. The poor are a priority.
  10. The history of the Church is meant to be studied and we have to face our history honestly. We have not always been a positive presence in the world and may
    need to apologize and make reparations.


    Because I embrace these beliefs I am a better human being, Christian and priest.

    Imagine the challenges and opportunities that would face a Third Vatican Council.

    Enjoy life!

    Fr. Ron Coyne

REST IN PEACE, LILY, OUR DEAR
FORMER
“CO-PASTORAL ASSOCIATE”
AND FRIEND

For all of you who knew her, Lily, Fr. Ronan’s beautiful, black English Labrador Retriever, loyal sidekick
and friend, had her own special ministry in our Parish.
She brought great joy, laughter, and comfort to all and was very popular at Masses, Baptisms and, when invited by the family, at funerals. We all missed her when she began her retirement in the spring and wished her a long and happy retirement. Now we take leave of
this beautiful creature of God who will always be remembered by those who benefitted from her peaceful presence.

October 31 “All
Hallows Eve”

Halloween or Hallowe’en, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of All hallow-tide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

In the annual rhythm of the Church’s life of prayer and worship, the Solemnity of All Saints (Sunday, November 1) actually begins with Evening Prayer I in the Liturgy of the Hours on Saturday, October 31. We rejoice in those who celebrate the heavenly banquet with Jesus Christ and we recall the Church’s rich tradition of faith-filled stewards.
Keep “All Hallows Eve” from becoming “hollow” by celebrating the Christian connection to Halloween and the positive messages that stem from the holiday for the benefit of ourselves and the spiritual formation of our children. Celebrate Monday, October 31, as a Catholic heritage of faith.

ICSC bulletin 2021

Friends !

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena
Fr. Coyne

I was rummaging through my room recently and I came across this letter I sent to Pope Francis in 2015 as a response to his request for input into the 2015 Synod on the Family. I thought you might be interested so would like to share this with you. I figure if I feel empowered to express my views with the Pope, then I am also privileged to share them with our parishioners in Charlestown. I feel the same way 7 years later.

Dear Pope Francis:
I hope life is treating you well. I am a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and thank you for giving me permission to be human and for reminding us that it is the gospel against which we measure our lives.

I am responding to your inquiry regarding the Synod on the Family 2015. These are my feelings and beliefs in no particular order;

Our belief in the sacrament of marriage is based on “what God has joined together we much not separate” We are under the impression that if a couple is married in the Church that therefore they have been joined by God. We now know that God is beyond organized religion and that no one has captured God. With that in mind, there may be many couples married civilly whom God has joined together, while there could be couples married in the eyes of the church whom God has not joined. The present view limits God and alienates many Catholics from the church and the Eucharist.

According the Second Vatican Council there are two purposes of Marriage: to foster the love between the couple, and the procreation of children. Sometimes the fear of conceiving children can negatively affect the love that a couple need to express intimately and sexually. Our view of birth control must be relaxed.

I couldn’t agree with you more “the Eucharist is food for the journey, not a reward for being good.” Coming to the Eucharistic table can be as healing as celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. The good done by going to communion far outweighs any good done by not going to communion. Our world today sees all creation as a gift of God. In fact, creation reveals God’s presence to humanity. There are many ways of protecting our environment for future generations. The present birth rate can be a serious threat to our planet.

No one enters into a marriage apart from their culture, history, background and life experience. Even though a person appears to be mature when they pronounce their marriage vows, we now know many are products or victims of alcoholism, addiction, abuse and domestic violence, which surely affects their ability to freely make that commitment.

We need to return to the understanding of vocation to the priesthood as a call from the community based on the gifts, skills and spiritual health of a member of a certain community. They are chosen because they are gifted. Today, we rely on an individual deciding to study for the priesthood and then assume they and they alone possess the necessary giftedness, e.g. because someone is ordained we believe he has the gift of preaching or because he becomes a priest we place him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as counselor and/or spiritual director.

If the institutional church and the gospel are at odds, it is the life of Christ that must be the measure against which we make our decisions. Sometimes it may even be the difference between words attributed to Christ and his life story that forces us to choose. The guiding principle is that Christ healed those no one would heal, touched those no-one would touch, forgave those no one would forgive and loved those no one would love. That is the gospel message unabridged.

We have progressed greatly in our understanding of sexuality over the years. We now realize that sexual orientation is not a choice but determined by genetics. It is therefore inhumane and unchristian to demand lifelong sexual abstinence from those who are homosexual or lesbian or transgender while encouraging those who are heterosexual to pursue and intimate sexual relationship in marriage.


I applaud you and those surrounding you for your determination to let the Catholic people in the world know that it is their baptism that makes them citizens of the Church.


May God continue to challenge us to be all we are meant to be as individuals and as Church.


Enjoy life!

Ron Coyne

Be Grateful for Doubt

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The fact is that all the great spiritual models of the ages before us found themselves, at one point or another, plunged into doubt, into darkness, into the certainty of uncertainty: Augustine, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, John the Baptist, Thomas, Peter, one after another of them all wondered, and wavered, and believed beyond
belief.

Surely, then, doubt is something to be grateful for, something about which to sing an alleluia. Unlike answers that presume the static nature of God and the spiritual life, doubt stretches us beyond ourselves to the guidance of a God whose face is not always in books.

Doubt is what leaves us open to truth, wherever it is, however difficult it may be to accept. But most of all, doubt requires us to reconfirm everything we’ve ever been made to believe is unassailable. Without doubt, life would simply be a series of packaged assumptions, none of them tested, none of them sure, and all of them belonging not to us, but to someone else whose truth we have made our own.

The problem with accepting truth as it comes to us rather than truth as we divine it for ourselves is that it’s not worth dying for—and we don’t. It becomes a patina of ideas inside of which we live our lives without passion, without care. This kind of faith happens around us but not in us—we go through the motions. The first crack in the edifice and we’re gone.
The first chink in the wall of the castle keep and we’re off to less demanding fields.

Doubt, on the other hand, is the mother of conviction. Once we have pursued our doubts to the dust, we forge a stronger, not a weaker, belief system. These truths are true, we know, because they are now true for us rather than simply for someone else. To suppress doubt, then, to discourage thinking, to try to stop a person from questioning the unquestionable is simply to make them more and more susceptible to the cynical, more unaccepting of naive belief.

It is doubt that is the beginning of real faith.

—from Uncommon Gratitude by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams
(Liturgical Press)
Joan Chittister visionviewpoint@benetvision.org

Friends,
To say I am thrilled to return to Charlestown is an understatement. I was honored to be there for the month of June and then went to the Back Bay for 3 months which had been arranged prior to my coming to Charlestown.

And now I am happy to say that I will be with you until the last week in November.

I am grateful to Fr. Gianni for his time in the Parishes and feel very hopeful and enthusiastic about Fr. John Sheridan’s new ministry as the Pastor of St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish beginning November 27th.

Enjoy life,
Fr. Coyne

Below is the prayer Sr. Nancy offered at the Faith and Blue Prayer Service at the Charlestown Peace Park last Friday, October 7th.

Creator of the Universe, giver of every good gift, we thank you and praise you as we come before you to celebrate the bonds that have been forged between faith and blue and our community. We stand together on this hallowed ground as sisters and brothers of different faiths united by what we hold in common rather than divided by our differences.

We are mindful, dear God, that this blessed, sacred corner of Charlestown, is dedicated to the life of Robert McGrath, a member of our community, whose life was taken over 30 years ago as a result of violence. And so, dear God, as you know, this holy place was born as a result of violence and pain, sorrow and struggle, gratitude and love. And by your grace, and the work of the Charlestown Coalition under the direction of Sarah Coughlin, The Turn it Around Youth, City of Boston funds, benefactors and other people of good will, it was resurrected with inspiration, dedication, tenacity, and hope.

And now we lift up before you, O God, Robert McGrath and so many others who have come home to you from our Town through violence and substance use, and other illnesses and who are remembered by us this day, and remembered everyday by those who love them deeply here on earth as they are in heaven.

And we pause in silent prayer to honor their memory.

Our Peace Park, dear God, brings solace to so many and is a symbol of your light that shines through each person who longs and works for unity, peace, and the well-being of one another especially the less fortunate among us. We ask your blessings on all those who brought the vision of this place to fruition We pray for our women and men in blue who get up each day and strive to fulfill their mission to protect and serve us all, and we pray for their families. We are grateful to them, O God, for the sacrifices they make to fulfill their noble mission, for their collaboration with our faith communities and other Charlestown organizations, and for their presence and solidarity with Charlestown residents. Strengthen them and guide them, and in your tender compassion, keep them safe from harm and bless them abundantly.


We pray for each of us gathered here, government officials and all of us who live and work in Charlestown. Keep us strong and united in your love – teach us to not only hear one another, but to really listen to one another, with acceptance and respect and to find common ground on which bridges of understanding, cooperation, and collaboration may be built.

We pray that you guide government officials, law enforcement locally and throughout our nation, and community members, and all who are involved in creating meaningful
solutions that will help end violence on our streets and will ensure safety in our homes and schools. Bless them dear God and their important work.

We pray that you heal divisions within our country and within and among nations in our world. Convert the hearts of those who seek to sew division and violence and grant us the peace for which we work and long for.

We pray for those in our community who continue to suffer from addiction, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and physical and mental illness. Bless us with the wisdom and resources
needed to address their needs and recognize their inherent dignity.

Lastly, dear God, we pray the prayer of St. Francis. May it take root and flourish within our lives:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so
much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Why Suffering?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

He was an old man of indeterminate years. found him in a beautiful room overlooking the harbor on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He looked terrible: broken shoulder, hip, scars and bruises and obviously in pain. When I spoke his name, one eye opened and Andrew (not his real name) focused on this priest standing by his bedside. I pulled over a chair and asked how he was doing – and began to listen.

It is a story not unfamiliar to many: the pains, aches and illnesses of aging combined with the accidents that accompany those of unsteady gait and balance. And Andrew’s question was simple, sort of: Why does God create us and then with suffering and pain, take our life away?

The meaning of suffering – who of us has not pondered that question? Yet the question becomes especially poignant when one is suffering and/or accompanying a loved one through a crisis. In an article published in the New York Times some time ago, Pico Iyer reflected on the value of suffering:

Wise men in every tradition tell us that suffering brings clarity, illumination; for the Buddha, suffering is the first rule of life, and insofar as some of it arises from our own wrongheadedness — our cherishing of self — we have the cure for it within. Thus in certain cases, suffering may be an effect, as well as a cause, of taking ourselves too seriously. I once met a Zen-trained painter in Japan, in his 90s, who told me that suffering is a privilege, it moves us toward thinking about essential things and shakes us out of shortsighted complacency; when he was a boy, he said, it was believed you should pay for suffering, it proves such a hidden blessing.

Of course, in the Irish Catholic tradition (and in other traditions) suffering is thought to be payback from God for one’s wrongdoing. Yet we all realize such thinking is senseless in the face of suffering of the innocent, for example a child and the victims of natural disasters, wars and so much more.

As Andrew and I continued our conversation, he explained his belief in God. Yet he was puzzled that God had allowed so much suffering to befall him. I asked if he believed God heard his prayers. He said he believed God hears all prayers, everyone’s, but does not necessarily answer them as one wishes. As Andrew spoke more about his life, he laced his comments with humor and wise observations. I came to see a man whose vision, wisdom and faith were extraordinary. I wondered if the suffering that Andrew was enduring was actually a classroom of sorts where he was learning and living at a depth and faith that were preparing him for the life that God has prepared for him.

After celebrating the Sacrament of the Sick and praying with Andrew, he seemed in a very different place then when I first met him. As I rose to prepare to leave, he told me a joke, you know one of those about the rabbi and the priest … I left his room chuckling and wondering about suffering, my own and that of countless others into whose lives I have been invited.

I conclude with the belief that all of life is a gift and never without meaning – ever. God is always at work in and around every one of us, in hard times and in good times. Our invitation to turn to this loving God, even in the darkness of suffering, loss and pain, is that call to go deeper, to the core of our being, and there to seek and find the Hope that is our Creator God.

Fr. Ronan – (reprint)

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” —Viktor
Frankl

Religious Education starts this week !

Our program will remain a hybrid program, like last year. Each class (with the exception of Youth Group – Grades 5-8) will meet once a month in person and once a month on Zoom.
– Confirmation classes (grades 9 & 10) will meet once a month IN PERSON at the 6pm Mass, and one Sunday a month at 6pm on Zoom.
If you have any questions, please email kfleming@stmarystcatherine.org, or call the Parish Center

And …
The Parish Center is excited to welcome a new puppy:. Katy Fleming, our Religious Education Director, and her family welcomed home their new puppy, Chelsea, this past week.

Thanksgiving Organ Concert
November 20, 2022
3:00pm
St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish

All are welcome to join our parish family for a concert on our very
own Harris and Woodbury organ, featuring:

Rosalind Mohnsen

ROSALIND MOHNSEN has performed in such venues as Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, Woolsey Hall at Yale University, The National Shrine in Washington, D.C., Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, and St. Thomas Church in New York City. She has performed for Boston’s First Night, A.G.O. Chapters in Richmond, Lincoln and Pasadena, twenty-three national conventions of the Organ Historical Society, the 2014 A.G.O. National Convention in Boston, and in Riga, Latvia and Stockholm, Sweden. She has been a pianist in the BSO Symphony Café. She served as Interim Organist and Director at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and was the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the Organ Historical Society.

A native of Nebraska, she received the Bachelor of Music in Education degree in piano from the University of Nebraska and the Master of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate in organ from Indiana University. Her organ studies were with Myron J. Roberts, Conrad Morgan, Robert Rayfield, and Jean Langlais. She is Director of Music and Organist at
Immaculate Conception Church of Malden/Medford, MassachuseĴs and was formerly on the faculty of Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa. Rosalind has also been a huge supporter of our parish music ministry through the years.

Cardinal O’Malley Statement on Venezeulan Refugees and Immigration Policy

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history.

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged. Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, In word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions,
human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security and stability for themselves and their families.

This week the humanity and vulnerability which immigrants and refugees share has come home to us in Massachusetts. The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country.

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response.

The need for a systematic longer-term response is required. I thank Governor Baker for his promise of providing shelter and security for those who have come to us in Massachusetts without either. An effective strategy inevitably requires the leadership and assistance of state and city government. Within that basic framework other organizations can then make their skilled response.

Catholic Charities of Boston has informed me of their readiness to cooperate with civil authorities in welcoming those who come to our Commonwealth in need of assistance. Not only Venezuelans, but Haitians and other Latin Americans are caught up in the crushing emergency of the U.S. southern border. When non-profit agencies can partner with civil authorities, people at risk will find welcome, support and space to organize their lives.

In a globalized world, immigration challenges will continue. In our country a broken immigration system requires immediate reform. From the Dreamers who still seek legal stability in their lives, to those fleeing war in Ukraine, poverty in Latin America and Africa, or crises in the Middle East, the call of our common humanity will be with us for years to come. I pray we will be equal to the challenge.

St. Vincent de Paul – Feast Day
September 27

Saint Vincent de Paul built a network of missions and confraternities for those in need beginning in the 1600s. This foundation for a global charity system now operates in 142 countries. In the United States, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul comes to the aid of 12 million people annually. Vincentians come from all walks of life and work for a noble purpose. In their work to address the needs of the poor, both spiritually and materially, they see the face of Christ.

*** Saint Mary—Saint Catherine of Siena Parish has always been a part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission. Due to your support, so far this year the St Vincent de Paul Conference of our parish has helped 44 families with their various needs. (rental assistance, beds, tables, lamps, and much more) And due to your generosity SdVP also participated in a towel drive for Harvest on Vine. Thank you for your help and please continue to remember the poor boxes at the back of the Church, or you can mail a donation to the Parish Center at 46 Winthrop St. 100% of all donations go to help those in need! All is much appreciated by those we serve.

Don’t miss the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday,
October 2nd at Noon!

This year, the blessing will take place in the Training Field (not Thompson Square).
Ministers from the various churches will be present to offer prayers and confer a blessing. All pets must be on a leash or in a container,
All pets, stuffed animals, pictures of your animals are welcome for this annual
Charlestown tradition which takes place around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi
(October 4th), patron saint of animals and the environment and known also for his powerful Prayer of Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury pardon; where there is
doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as
to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Spread the word!!!

Fr. Ronan wrote this article in 2016 on the occasion of the Blessing of the Animals.
Though he is not able to be come with his faithful dog, Lily, we will remember them in
spirit. Please note that the Blessing of the Animals will take place on October 2 at
Noon in the Training Field and NOT Thompson Square. All pets must be leashed.

FAITHFUL

Winter in Andahuaylas means a deep and dry cold that only diminishes as the brilliant Andean sun rises and blesses the landscape with warmth and light. It was July, and I had been at the parish there for only six weeks. I arrived by bus after two days of travelling from Lima. The air is thin and the altitude is around 8,500 feet above the Pacific coast. The entire reality was beyond anything I had ever known or imagined.

At 7 o’clock, morning Mass began and I arrived each day around 6:30. Slowly the parishioners would come into the darkened church building, shuffling in sandals made from old truck tires, warmly wrapped in ponchos. Some women carried a child or two. Many were elderly, and women always wore their hats with long braided hair flowing behind. They are a beautiful people, these Peruvians, whose ancestors have lived in these regions for countless generations.

Each day in a few benches in front of me, an elderly woman would slowly come down the aisle saying her prayers and sit down. Very shortly after, an old dog would sort of tip-toe down the aisle and go to her. She would immediately shoo the dog away. The dog would obey, sort of, for he would simply step back and lie down under the bench behind her. I watched this game go on for months until one day the woman did not arrive.

Later that day, I heard she was ill and shortly after we celebrated her funeral. A few days passed, and one morning I sat in the half-light of the dawn in the church when I heard the unmistakable sound of the dog’s approach. Wagging his tail, he went to the bench where he always found the old woman. He looked around everywhere and even came over to me. Finally, he stretched out under her bench and with a sigh, waited for her return.

I recall the story vividly and continue to be touched by the beauty and the faithfulness of a dog. We have seen other accounts as well, sometimes of dogs who serve in the military and display astonishing faithfulness toward soldiers in life and death. Yet all of us who are blessed to be accompanied by a pet have our own stories and we know.

On Sunday, October 2, we will celebrate the annual Blessing of the Animals in Charlestown. In the Training Field at Noon, folks from all of the churches and beyond will arrive for a beautiful service as the various ministers offer prayers and blessings on the gathered animals and all present to share the day. Well behaved pets are welcome to the 10:30 Mass that day. All pets must be leashed. After Mass we will go over to the Training Field for the blessing.

Not long ago a friend gifted me with a simple image of a black lab and a prayer that read: “Lord, make me as good a person my dog thinks I am”. Indeed!

Fr. Ronan