By Father Jim Achadinha
Just more than fifteen years ago, in the midst of the crisis that engulfed our archdiocese, I was ordained to the priesthood and made three solemn promises in the hands of my bishop: prayer, celibacy, and obedience. I made these promises with a clear conscience, a firm commitment, and a realistic appreciation of the hard journey ahead. Over the years, I have never found it easy to keep these promises, but I have done so with the encouragement, love, and support of my family, my friends, and my fellow parishioners. Being a priest during these times is sometimes difficult, but I have no regrets or second thoughts. At the same time, I find myself increasingly frustrated by this ongoing crisis.
Let me be clear: I am not frustrated with the victims or their families whose lives have been devastated by those who committed crimes that deserve society’s condemnation and just punishment. Any and all victims of abuse deserve our most sincere apology, love, understanding, and ongoing support. I am not frustrated with the news media for reporting the facts: that felony crimes were committed and systematically covered-up or ignored by those in positions of power. However, I am deeply frustrated with those bishops and their minions who have failed over and over again to address this crisis in an effective, honest, and practical way that allows us, the Body of Christ, “to heal wounds, bind what is broken, and bring home those who are lost (Saint Francis of Assisi).”
I am also concerned about factions within the Church that seek to use this crisis as a weapon against Pope Francis, some bishops and priests, and our gay brothers and sisters. Rather than join the Holy Father in applying Church teachings with gentleness and mercy, they seem interested only in excluding others. Rather than becoming instruments of God’s peace, they seem intent on becoming instruments of harsh judgment. Ultimately, this crisis is not about celibacy. It is not about sexual orientation. It is about the mental illness of pedophilia manifested as crimes against children. Rooting out gay priests or lay employees is not the answer. Reporting, investigating, and prosecuting sexual abuse is the answer. After all we have been through, how can our bishops not see this crisis for what it is?
For nearly two decades, a dark cloud of suspicion has loomed over those who serve the Church as priests, deacons, and lay ministers. In my experience, almost all of these people are men and women who dedicate their lives to the service of others. They are honest and faithful. They work longer hours for fewer dollars than they might earn elsewhere. They sacrifice time with their families and friends to be present with our community during times of both celebration and sorrow. They are rarely appreciated for all that they do for all of us. They are truly humble servants in the vineyard of the Lord.
Together with these good people and you, our fellow parishioners, we are the Church. We are God’s family. We are the People of God who are called to be the salt of the earth andthe light of the world. We are called to love God, love others, and protect our children. We are the ones that Jesus summons in this weekend’s gospel and says to them: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34).” United in prayer, fellowship, and service, let us lift high the cross that each of us is called to carry and follow Christ—together. Always together.
About the Author: Reverend James M. Achadinha serves as pastor of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. He is a graduate of Boston University and Saint John Seminary. He is also co-founder and priest-chaplain of the Assisi Project. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection 2018
Joy & Suffering with Padre Pio
Saturday, October 6th
Earlier this year, Pope Francis visited the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital founded by Saint Padre Pio. Afterwards, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy. In his homily, the Holy Father preached about the call to suffer and the three words that summarize the life of a saint: humility, prayer, and wisdom. The pope said: “All of theology is contained here! If you have a problem, if you are sad, if you are sick, abandon yourself into the arms of Jesus!”
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina on September 23rd and the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4th. In commemoration of these two great saints, all are invited to join our spiritual directors, Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, for a Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection: “Joy & Suffering with Padre Pio” on Saturday, October 6th at Saint Anthony Chapel, which is located at 21 Farrington Avenue in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
During this four-hour mini-retreat, we will explore the life, ministry, and patronage of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and his special meaning for those who are called to suffer. This special morning of prayer and reflection will proceed according to the following schedule: Celebration of Holy Mass at 8:00am; First Reflection & Faith Sharing at 9:00am; Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary at 10:00am; Second Reflection & Faith Sharing at 11:00am; Angelus & Closing Prayers at 12:00pm.
Throughout the morning, there will be scheduled breaks and time for faith sharing, fellowship, and refreshments. Coffee, tea, and bottled water will be available throughout the morning. After our closing prayers, all are invited to remain for picnic lunch. During Mass, a collection will be taken in support of our adult faith formation ministry. If you would like to join us for our Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection in honor of Saint Pio and Saint Francis, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring a friend! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
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