From the Pastor

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings, there’s not a day ahead You have not seen.
So, in all things be my life and breath, I want what You want, Lord, and nothing less.
When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move,
when You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,
when You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You. I will trust in You

from Trust in You, written by Lauren Daigle, Michael Farren, Paul Marbury

I’m often asked if I wish I knew what lies ahead for the future, and my answer is always no.
Today’s readings point us to see that God’s plans and dreams for us
may be very different than what we often imagine them to be,
and we’re called to keep focused on what is around us and on what lies ahead.
Who knows what the future brings? We know.
Will there be disappointments, heartaches, and pain? Yes, there always have been,
but there will also be joys, victories and dreams achieved we never imagined!
Our faith gives us the courage to walk through the changes in our lives to accept God’s will even though we may not understand or even welcome it to see God’s hand in all that is in our midst, to learn the lessons from the moments in our lives
and, above all, to keep going.
We are called, each of us, as ambassadors of Christ, to look up and look ahead,
just as this Collaboration is all about, to have the courage to let go of what was,
and have the faith to plan for a new generation. We can do this for them. We owe it to them.
As we begin a new era together in Charlestown, may our Blessed Mother point us to her Son,
the Hope of our world, and may we run- without hesitation- to what He is calling us to.
Blessed Mother, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

Thanks, Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, my classmate,
and friend. Thanks to the concelebrating priests today, our many guests,
those who lead us today and every day in word, symbol, song, and service, reception hosts,
setup and clean up teams, our Collaborative staff, parish councils and volunteers, friends,
and everyone who is joining us in many ways.
Look up. Look ahead. There is cause for rejoicing!


Registration for RCIA classes is now open. This program is for those who have been baptized Catholic but have not received First Communion and Confirmation and for those who would like to become Catholic.

Orientation is on Monday, September 25th at 6:30 at the Parish Center, 46
Winthrop Street. Please call Sr. Nancy if you are interested: 617-242-4664 or email
her at

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

St. John Paul II

Clergy Trust

Clergy Trust video featuring Fr. Ronan

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

This story was shared with me recently:

A lady asked a farmer: “How much do you sell your eggs for?” The old vendor replies “50 cents an egg, madam.” The lady says, “I’ll take 6 eggs for $2.50 or I’m leaving.” The old salesman replies, “Buy them at the price you want, Madam. This is a good start for me because I haven’t sold a single egg today and I need this to live.” She bought her eggs at a bargain price and left with the feeling that she had won.

She got into her fancy car and went to a fancy restaurant with her friend. She and her friend ordered what they wanted. They ate a little and left a lot of what they had asked for. They paid the bill, which was $150. The ladies gave $200 and told the fancy restaurant owner to keep the change as a tip…

This story might seem quite normal to the owner of the fancy restaurant, but very unfair to the egg seller…The questions it raises are: Why do we always need to show that we have power when we buy from the needy? Why are we generous to those who don’t even need our generosity?

I once read this somewhere, that a father used to buy goods from poor people at high prices, even though he didn’t need the things. Sometimes he paid more for them. I was amazed. One day his son asked him “Why are you doing this Dad?” His father replied: “It’s charity wrapped in dignity, son.”

Each one of us can do better. God gave us the power.


Fr. John


Saturday, September 23, 2023 Noon

At the statue of Our Lady across from St. Francis Church (303 Bunker Hill Street)


September 1 through October 4 is the SEASON OF CREATION – a time to reflect more deeply on the call to ecological conversion,
both personal and communal.

Let’s reflect on these words from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: (LS 217 – 219) – “The ecological crisis is a summons to a profound interior conversion needed to bring about lasting change…Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s magnificent handwork is essential to a life of virtue…it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian commitment. It entails a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creation but joined in a splendid universal communion.”

And on these words from Thomas Berry’s The Great Work: “The universe story is our Sacred Story…We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of the Creator. The Great Work now is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the Earth in a mutually beneficial manner…

The Great Work is the work of all people. No one is exempt.”

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

If confession is the road to healing, forgiveness is the promised land.
I’m reaching out in my conviction, I’m longing to make amends…
So, I’m sorry for the words I’ve spoken, for I’ve betrayed a friend.
We’ve got a love that’s worth preserving, and a bond I will defend…
From Between You and Me by DC Talk

It’s a sacrament that scares everyone, and one that many of us avoid- the Sacrament known as Reconciliation, Penance, or Confession. Everyone has or knows stories of people who experienced difficult moments in “the box”, as it were, but I sincerely hope that there have been moments of peace, or relief, even joy, in hearing another voice say, “You are absolved from your sins.” It’s important to stress in the Sacrament that it’s not me who absolves, it’s Christ who does- I am simply His grateful minister, middleman, if you will- I just say the words- it is He who imparts the grace.

I have heard confessions in some unusual circumstances and places, These are moments when I
have been profoundly changed and made a better person by the grace, humility, trust, and courage people have shown wherever I’ve honored, privileged, and humbled by the role I have in this moment as confessor. Please don’t hesitate to see me or any of the priests to receive this precious gift, the gift of relief and joy.

Fr. John

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

Where did I misplace my faith? Where did I set it down?
Which one the day that I forgot, what this was all about?
And I came so close to throwing it all away… but I’m taking it back again.
So come and rejoice… what was lost is found.
When did I get so sensible? Make me a fool again.
My life was a half empty glass, now it is full again.
And this road we take is never an easy place,
But somehow we’ve found our way…

Rejoice, written by Steve Mac, Wayne Hector

I love to make people laugh. I know that God has a great sense of humor, and I believe that His humor reveals itself in so many ways, at the heart of each of us and beyond us- and sadly, we miss it. There are sometimes in my life when I will pause in the midst of the frantic world and look for Him, and I can find Him drawing me, all of us, into something deeper than the moment in front of us, drawing deeper into something extraordinary, warm, and funny, because it’s so real and human- I discover His presence and can’t but share it with others.

Following Christ is gloriously ridiculous. It makes no sense- it will get you nothing on this earth, and yet as Jeremiah in today’s first reading proclaims it, God finds us a way to dupe us into it, and it’s the things like this that make this give our lives meaning and are so beautifully worthwhile. It’s a wonderful contradiction!

From Our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

There come times in life when we ask ourselves, “Is this what I’m called to be? Can I do this?” I had a moment like that right before my ordination; I panicked as I thought to myself that I was unworthy to follow through with this incredible undertaking. In a panic, I ran into my classmate’s room and told him. His response floored me. He simply said, “Do think I am? No one is. That’s kind of the point!” He was right- and I followed through.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus chooses Peter to lead this ragtag group of guys not because he was smarter or holier, but because he was willing to do what he was asked, even with all of misgivings, doubts and faults- let’s face it, Peter had plenty of them!

God chose you and me to do His work not because we’re smarter or holier or more creative or more talented anymore that the next person (far from it, in my case)- all He asks us to do is trust that He called each of us to do our part to fulfill His will. If we each spent less time trying to figure out His will- which is beyond our comprehension- and more work doing our part of it, maybe we’d be happier with God and ourselves.

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

“I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are
poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.
Gaudium et Spes, Preface

We’re months away from Advent, but the summer sky is full of stars. As children, we were encouraged to look up, to the stars, to find inspiration as they point out for us the way. In Scripture, Abram is assured of God’s promise of the future by the stars in the sky. The star of Bethlehem led shepherds and kings to the Christ Child. In the Book of Revelation, the woman is presented with the twelve stars around her, reflecting the tribes of Israel.

Look up. Look ahead. I use this phrase a lot around here- I find it helpful for me to focus on my priorities, my work, my vocation. We have spent too much time, wasted too many dreams, looking back to a world that simply doesn’t exist anymore (and maybe never did) and looking down, awash in sorrow, pain, and grief, feeling almost incapable of looking ahead with any expectations. Yes, there is much to look at and be sad about today in our world. Does that mean we should ignore the problems of our lives, our world, our times? Most certainly not.

We are called to address the problems, worries, and doubts of this dark world, not with sad resignation and fear, but with humble and open hearts to the possibilities that only the Holy Spirit can give. Some people are afraid to look ahead because they’re vision is limited to the earth, only to the here and now- our Christian faith calls each and all of us to look ahead with hope- that’s the key here. It seems that years ago people spoke so joyfully about the future- they seemed to dream more today, there seems so much dystopian visions, doubt, and fear foreboding- have we lost the ability to hope and dream of a new world, new ideas, new possibilities?

Our loving God reminds us that as much as He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He is also the God Who makes all things new, Who refreshes and renews us every day, every moment, with His grace and love. The timeless God of all that was, is and will be, calls us to newness of life, to cast off our sorrow and fear. Is it risky? Of course it is- anything worth it is. It’s a chance we’re taking, and it’s worth everything, and whatever we may lose on this earth, we will receive so much more of the blessings God will give us. I take great inspiration that perhaps the most important document in the Second Vatican Council, its Pastoral Constitution, is entitled Gaudium et SpesHope and Joy. It is THAT Hope and Joy that attracts us to Christ, to bring some of those gifts to the world.

“We must attract them by joy in order to lead them to its source, the heart of Christ.”
St. Katherine Drexel

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

I was sure by now, God, You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day…
But once again, I say amen, and it’s still raining.
As the thunder rolls, I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, “I’m
with you.”

And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
and takes away.
And I’ll praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands…
‘Cause You are who You are, no matter where I am…
and every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hand.
You never left my side… And though my heart is torn, I will praise You
in this storm.

From Praise You in the Storm, written by Bernie Herms and Mark Hall

There are times in life, when somehow, we made it through something doubt, injury, fear, sickness, whatever it may be- something we alone may know- but somehow, we found our way, or more likely, God found our way through. All He asks us to do is to trust Him. It’s so hard to do that especially when we live in a world who keeps saying we can do anything we can’t, and that’s not a bad thing. Jesus called Peter out, but his fear won out over his faith. He understands our doubts- let us cast away our
fears a little and trust in His love for us when we’re out on the waters.

Many thanks to Fr. Louis Kemayou from the US Virgin Islands, who preached and presided at our Masses this weekend on behalf of the Propagation of the Faith.

We had two weddings last Saturday! Congratulations to Julie & Gregory who were married by Fr. Ronan at St. Mary’s, and Mary Kate & Edward, married by me at St. Francis Church!

Tuesday, Aug. 15, is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is a Holy Day of Obligation.

Masses will be offered at 9 am at St. Francis de Sales and 6 pm at St. Mary’s Church

It is our honor to host the Young Catholic Professionals group of the Archdiocese as they gather at St. Catherine’s Chapel on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 7 pm.

Join us at Bishop Lawton Hall on Monday, Sept. 18 at 7 pm for an update on St. Francis de Sales – we’ll look at finances, activities, ideas and plans through Christmas!

Fr. John Sheridan


Consider a Priestly Call!

Take a risk for God! Enter the mission field where bold action meets lasting outcomes. Over 750 priest alumni discerned a sacred call later in life. Maturity with God’s grace
can move mountains. Can you leave it all to follow Christ? Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, MA is offering the latest in its “First Friday Visits” program
on September 1, 2023 at 5:00 pm. Holy Hour and Evening Prayer. Option to attend in person or virtually. In person includes dinner with the seminarians and a tour. Virtual includes a Zoom visit following Holy Hour. Make a resolution to be courageous. Consider a priestly call.

Contact: or 781.899.5500 ext. 134.

Read Read Fr. John’s article published in The Pilot this week.

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

Whenever I go to Washington, DC, I spend time in the Smithsonian Institute, especially my favorite museum, dedicated to American History. It’s always amazing to see so much presented in a way that you can’t read in a book or see in a movie- the symbols, the moments, the actual items used as history was made in their 3-dimensional glory, whether they be the Apollo 11 lunar module, the Woolworth’s lunch counter from Greensboro, NC where the Civil Rights movement was shown for us all to see, Mr. Rogers’ sweater, or the original Kermit the Frog, these incredible pieces allow us to recall the past, understand the current times, and even look towards the future.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus does the same for His disciples on the feast of the Transfiguration – to look, and learn, and wait in joyful hope for what is coming. The temptation, of course, is to stay in the glory of the moment in the past, as Peter wants to, but he doesn’t understand that there so much in his midst, and so much to look ahead to. Jesus is challenging us to look up and look ahead to the glory that awaits us. The glory that awaits is so much greater than what surrounds us- it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate what got us here in the first place; we put it in its proper context and, as Jesus calls us, joyfully, fearlessly… we follow.

This fall, we will move on our goal of collaboration- our finance councils and pastoral councils will meet. We will have an evening with a speaker and prayer as we move up and ahead. We will have a Grand Annual collection at St. Francis, an Installation and Inauguration celebration on Sept. 24th. Watch the Pilot next weekend for an essay I wrote. Stay tuned for these and all other surprises as we turn a corner and prepare for what’s next!

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

In the very exciting climax of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 (yes that’s almost 25 years ago – I feel old, too), Indiana is forced to make a difficult decision, to choose what is more important to him, at the ultimate risk to himself or what he desires. It’s all Hollywood and that, but it’s very well done – it can call us to think about what we consider important, what we would sacrifice for what we love, what we believe in.

Christ calls us to a love supreme, beyond us, where we understand His love is the basis of all love, and if we choose that love, we will discover Him and His presence everywhere. The man who discovers the pearl in the Gospel is willing to sacrifice all his possessions for that one thing, and Christ calls us to let go of the things of this world and cling to what is priceless – Christ himself.

This weekend we begin to turn a corner- on Sunday, Sept. 25th, we will be celebrating our unity and I will be formally installed as pastor (thanks for your patience) and throughout the fall we will be putting a plan for the collaboration of our parish families and what it will entail. We will be working with both parishes’ Pastoral and Finance Councils, hosting presentations for the wider community, and we’ll be welcoming your input, questions, and comments as we work to the next chapter for the Catholic Community of Charlestown.

Through it all, I ask for your prayers and encouragement as we discern God’s will for us and look up and look ahead for us all.

Blessed Mother, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Fr. John Sheridan

From our Pastor

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

There’s been a lot said recently about the atomic bomb as we near the 78th anniversary of its detonation. There is a moment in the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist and leader of the team that developed the atomic bomb, when many years ago as a young teacher and scholar, one of his contemporaries caught him in front of a blackboard, chalk in hand, staring into space and mumbling over and again, “the point is…”.

I think of today of St. Bonaventure, who helped us move the thinking of Philosophy to a deeper, more profound, and beautiful way of understanding of God in Theology, of how we as humans, in our pursuit of science and knowledge, as noble and important as is, we can lose the point of the entire enterprise, and when we do, we can fail, oh, so miserably. In so many ways, we can treat human lives as just figures on a board, not as the creation of a God who has placed each of us here for a holy and beautiful reason.

The pursuit of the secrets of this world and beyond are important and valuable, but a deeper understanding align them properly and help make our world more understandable, clearer, and better. The need will always be there to find a context that allows us not just to search into the “How?” of these things, we can come to a deeper and more profound meaning of the “Why?”- the workings of what is at the very heart of the Divine. This will allow us to open the door to the ethical implications of these important findings- of using not just how to make discover and create new things, but how to develop and use them in ways that make a difference to this earth and her inhabitants.

Einstein said this about God: “I want to know His thoughts; the rest are just details.” He was not a religious man, but he had the point. With all we know, there is so much we don’t – of our world, our universe, but no less, mysteries of our hearts and souls.

A few years ago, someone asked me what the most important thing is I’ve learned as a priest- I answered that as St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians 3:8:

Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss.

God has given us so much: faith, hope, love, life, this world, family, friends- everything begins and ends with Him.

We are called to be grateful for all He has given us- even the challenges. Apart from Him, we are lost, like that gifted professor, enriched with all this human wisdom, staring blankly at the board, asking that question. Then we return to the true Teacher and listen… and learn.

One of Oppenheimer’s ways of dealing with the extraordinary stress he encountered through his life was his love of poetry. When I reflect on what Christ calls us to in this world where things change and fall over and again, these lyrics come to my mind:

Everybody says love makes the world go round…
I hear a bubbling and I hear a sound of my heart beating
and I turn around and find you standing at the door.
You know me, I like to dream a lot… of this and that, and what is not…
and finally I figured out what was what… It was the power of the heart.

Search for the “How” in the mysteries- just keep asking “Why?” The answers will lead you to Christ. This world will change- The heart of Christ’s love remains- let’s find our joy and hope in Him.

Look up. Look ahead.

“The Power of the Heart” was written by Lou Reed

~ Fr. John Sheridan


Virgin Mary,
Mother of faith and hope,
an example for this humanity bent by indifference,
make me as willing as You
to accept the will of God,
to magnify and praise His Mercy.

Mary, Mother of fortitude,
you who knows my heart,
do not allow me to become discouraged.
I confidently surrender my life into your hands.
Heal my wounds.
May your tenderness accompany me on the way.

Your presence, Mother of love,
brings us to experience the joy
of seeing our families united.
Help me to transmit the tenderness and Love of God
to the grandchildren and youth
so that, in addition to praying for them,
we can pray with them.

Mary, may the gift of the Holy Spirit intercede for me:
sustain my weakness;
breathe into my heart the consolation
that I may leave traces of faith among the young,
bearing witness to the beauty of life,
knowing that life has a limit
and that beyond it lies before us our Father’s embrace.

Dicastery for Laity, Family & Life—USCCB web site