Newsletter, January 16, 2020


Some years ago, I recall reading about a response Mother
Theresa gave to a question about offensive language. She explained that, to
her, one of the most offensive words in the language is exclusive. I never forgot
that simple point of view –  the more so
as our world and communities seem to become increasingly divided over countless
issues. This results in an inclusion of some but mostly an exclusion of others –
be that in clubs, classes, economic status, citizenship and/or membership and
belonging to whatever.

It seems to me it would be a contradiction for a Christian
community to present itself as exclusive. I mean, the idea that a community of
persons united in their faith in Jesus Christ would consider it right to
exclude some population of persons from that community would render itself, in
essence, an Un-Christian community.

Does that seem too simplistic? Maybe it is. But when a
community announces itself as a “welcoming community”, that seems like an
unconditional welcome. Yet, perhaps the problem lies in the delta between what
we say and announce and what, in fact, we practice.

I believe for a Christian community to authentically “be
welcoming,” the welcome must be unconditional and entirely inclusive.
Therefore, any person, young or old, man or woman, gay or straight, rich or
poor, employed or unemployed, of any color, race, background or tradition,
married, divorced, single, handicapped, or healthy should be welcomed.

Being a welcoming community does not necessarily mean that
the welcoming members agree with, practice, or live in total accord with one
another’s beliefs. Nor does it mean that the members are always in agreement
with those who are being welcomed. It’s not about agreement, it’s about

I write about this topic because I believe there are many who
do not feel welcomed in church. Even if a church announces “Welcome,” it does
not automatically mean one entering a church experiences a feeling of welcome –
an environment or climate of welcome. To make that happen requires a deliberate
intention on the part of everyone to be welcoming and an openness to be

Everyone carries his/her own baggage. For many, the load is
very heavy and it often includes scars, deep hurt, and sometimes fear. There
may be uncertainty about how God views them or if a faith community will be
accepting of them.  The truth is everyone
is unconditionally loved and accepted in the eyes of God and followers of
Christ are called to do the same.

Jesus Christ comes to bring light into our darkness, hope
into our desolation, and freedom to our enslavement. He enjoined us to love God
and love our neighbor as ourselves.  He
told us that whatever we do to those we consider to be “the least of our
brothers and sisters” we do to him. If we want to call ourselves Christians,
then we must work hard at following Christ’s teachings and at creating
communities of welcome. So let’s roll up our sleeves and do our part in
creating the world God envisioned for us right where we are.


from Harvest on Vine

Dear Supporters and Volunteers,

Thank you for supporting us in 2019. Because of your
efforts and donations, we held 24 food distributions, giving out roughly 300
tons of food. We distributed 400 spiral hams at Easter, and 700 turkey baskets
at Thanksgiving. We hosted a cookout in June that was attended by more than 350
Charlestown residents. We organized a special food drive in February for
furloughed workers in the National Parks Service.

We had three highly successful fundraisers and
numerous food drives. We were awarded grant money to buy a walk-in freezer. We
continue to receive money each quarter to buy fresh produce.

I cannot thank you enough for your compassion and
generosity. Because of you, Harvest on Vine is a first-class operation.

Tom MacDonald, Social Ministry Director

Grand Annual Surpasses Goal

Two hundred forty
members of our Parish generously contributed a total of $112,183. to the 2019
Grand Annual Collection. One parishioner matched every gift over $80,000 up to
$10,000. That very generous gift helped us reach $100,000 and more gifts have
continued to arrive.

I am very humbled and deeply grateful to all those who supported this collection. We have an annual operating budget of $ 863,147.31.  Included in this budget are all of the various needs of this complex community from building maintenance and insurance, utilities, Harvest on Vine our emergency food pantry, parish staff salaries and health insurance, and our various ministries.

The Grand Annual is crucial for us to operate effectively and responsibly. May our Parish continue to thrive and grow, and may God bless you abundantly for your prayers and generosity.  Know that each of you who make up our wonderful Parish are in my daily prayers. Fr. Ronan

Into the Ordinary

This morning as I hurried to the church to prepare for
morning Mass, I was thinking about the readings while at the same time aware
that the Church turns a page on Monday. For many weeks now, we have been in two
very special seasons, Advent and Christmas. The beauty and richness of these
times, the eloquence and depth of the readings from Sacred Scripture combined
with the loveliness of the decorations and joyful spirit of Christmas conclude
with today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This week we return to ORDINARY
TIME in the liturgical calendar of the Church.

Interesting word, “ordinary”; what does it really mean?
It may be one of those words that is defined more by what it is NOT than by
what it is. In that sense “ordinary” is all of the time that is not identified
as extra-ordinary. Yet so much of life is all about the “ordinary”.

At a funeral I was celebrating recently, a young man
gave a eulogy for a deceased member of his family. He began by offering this
observation: the most important item found on a tombstone is none other than
the tiny dash – found between the dates of one’s birth and death. For that dash
is that person’s life. You might say the DASH is the ordinary. Come to think
about it, it could be said that the life of Jesus is marked by two
“extraordinary” events: His birth in Bethlehem and His death on the Cross in
Jerusalem. Yet the dash, “the ordinary” times of His life, really tell the
story of why God’s Son came to earth; the teaching, healing, compassion,
water-walking, bread-multiplying, dead-raising and so much more.

I meet with many young couples preparing for their
marriage. Sometime early on in our conversations I lift up the well-known
saying: “A wedding is a day, a marriage
is a lifetime”.
Point being, some couples get so entrenched in the planning
of the wedding they forget to live fully each day – again the ordinary.

God is found everywhere, of this I am certain. Yet it
is hard to find God if one is not living in the present time, moment, and
reality of one’s life. I am very fond of these lines from Thomas Merton: God cannot be found by weighing the present
against the future or the past, but only by sinking into the heart of the
present as it is”
 (Entering the Silence, 460).

So it is, God is found most intimately in the ordinary
moments of each day – making “Ordinary Time” a very special time!

Fr. Ronan

Upcoming Events – January and February


Thursday, January 16 – First Penance Service for Second Graders

Monday, January 20 – MLK Holiday, Office Closed.
Mass at 9AM – St. Catherine of Siena Chapel

Weekend Masses, January 25/26 – Word of God Sunday and Respect for Life
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for 15 minutes after each Mass

Saturday, February 1st – First Saturday of the Month Mass and Rosary for Peace
8AM – St. Catherine of Siena Chapel

Saturday, February 8 – Adult Confirmation Classes Begin
Contact Sr. Nancy to register –

Monday, February 17 – President’s Day, Office Closed
Mass at 9AM – St. Catherine of Siena Chapel

Wednesday, February 26 – Ash Wednesday, Beginning of the Lenten Season
Masses in St. Mary Church at 8AM, 12:10PM, 7PM

Prayer Opportunities

Centering Prayer – Every Monday Night at 7PM
Parish Center, 46 Winthrop Street

Holy Hour – Every Friday 5:30-6:30 – Quiet Time Before the Blessed Sacrament
St. Catherine of Siena Chapel

Faith Sharing Groups

Men’s Group – Tuesdays 6:30 to 8:45
Parish Center, 46 Winthrop Street
Contact Fr. Ronan to join

Mixed Group – Tuesdays after the 8AM Mass
St. Catherine of Siena Chapel
Contact Sr. Nancy to join

Women’s Group – Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8PM
Parish Center, 46 Winthrop Street
Contact Sr. Nancy to join

Religious Education program notes

Our program continues to grow and thrive!
* This Thursday, January 16, 26 students will make their First Reconciliation. They will make their confessions and celebrate with a pizza party!

* Our service with Ronald McDonald House continues. 5 Confirmation students made a Taco Bake for families at RMH last week. We have two more dinner opportunities with students there later this month! If you are able to contribute to the parish to assist us in purchasing materials for making these dinners please consider sending a Whole Foods or Stop n Shop gift card to the parish center or contributing via the PayPal link (note the donation as Ronald McDonald House.)

* Team Jersey Mass! Many families have indicated that their child’s sports’ schedules have impacted their attending Mass on Sunday. We would like to introduce our first Team Jersey Mass – on a Saturday! Saturday February 1 at the 4pm Mass, all are invited to wear their Team Jerseys (local Charlestown teams as well as favorite professional teams), and children will participate in the Mass. Although apparently there is no Superbowl (since the Patriots are not in it!), the timing of the Mass coincides with a big sports day with Sunday being Superbowl Sunday. All our athletes and students will receive a special blessing.

* Finally, would you like to be a part of this program, with all these exciting and engaging events? We are looking for volunteers to teach in the classrooms. With our enrollment continuing to grow, extra volunteers are needed. We have 9 remaining classes. Volunteers will have materials and information prepared and ready to go for each class. Classes run on Sundays 9am-10:15 am, and Tuesdays 3:45pm-5pm.

Please see our website for more info
or reach out to Katy Fleming at