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Our Lenten Journey, March 1, 2015

March 1st, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | March 1, 2015

Here is the full quote from St. John Neumann:

“Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random, we are not here, that we may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die.

God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also.”

— St. John Neumann, from the sermon: “God’s Will the End of Life”

 

Take time today to think about God’s purpose for our lives. “He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose.” Do we know what it is or are we still seeking it?

 

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030115.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

MAR.1

Our Lenten Journey, February 28, 2015

February 28th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | February 28, 2015

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ― St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena was a Religious leader, philosopher, theologian,and community activist andshe left a legacy through her writing that still inspires today.  (If you don’t know much about her, take time to research her full, fascinating life.)

Today’s readings speak to us about obedience to God’s commands.  What better example of the success we can all have to “set the world on fire” than that of the obedience of St. Catherine to God’s calling?

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022815.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

 

FEB.28

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Pope Francis offers advice on preparing for confession during Lent

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession, “because we are all sinners,” the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to “confess well.”

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled “Safeguard your heart,” the booklet is meant to help the faithful become “courageous” and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis’ explanation of “lectio divina,” a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear “what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit.”

The booklet’s title is based on a line from one of the pope’s morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, “just as you protect your home, with a lock.”

“How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?” he asked. “Who opened the door? How did those things get in?”

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one’s heart is with the daily practice of an “examination of conscience,” in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one’s neighbor and oneself.”

The questions include:

• Do I only turn to God when I’m in need?

• Do I attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?

• Do I begin and end the day with prayer?

• Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?

• Do I rebel against God’s plan?

• Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?

• Am I honest and fair with everyone

• In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?

• Do I honor and respect my parents?

• Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?

• Do I respect the environment?

• Am I part worldly and part believer?

• Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?

• Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?

• How do I use my time? Am I lazy?

• Do I want to be served?

• Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?

• Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways “we think and act contrary to the Gospel.”

“Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind,” he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God’s willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.

 

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Father Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame icon, national leader, dies at 97

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Holy Cross Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame through a period of dramatic growth during his 35 years as president and held sway with political and civil rights leaders, died Feb. 26 at the age of 97.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

As the longest serving president of Notre Dame, from 1952 to 1987, Father Hesburgh built the university from a small college primarily known for its prowess on the football field into one of the nation’s premier higher education institutions.

In announcing the highly regarded priest’s death, the university did not cite a specific cause.

Funeral arrangements remained to be finalized, but the university said a funeral Mass would be celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus.

“We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s current president, said in a statement. “With his leadership, charism and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“In his historic service to the nation, the church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor,” he said.

Father Hesburgh was born May 25, 1917, in Syracuse, New York, to Anne Murphy Hesburgh and Theodore B. Hesburgh, an executive of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.

He was educated at Notre Dame and Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1943 in Sacred Heart Church, today the basilica, on the Notre Dame campus. He received a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in 1945.

After doctoral studies he joined the university faculty, teaching in the religion department, and served as chaplain to World War II veterans on campus. In 1949 he was appointed executive vice president of Notre Dame. He became the university’s 15th president in 1952.

Under his presidency, the university budget grew from $9.7 million to $176.6 million while the endowment expanded from $9 million to $350 million. Enrollment increased from 4,979 students to 9,600 and the faculty expanded from 389 to 950.

In 1967, he oversaw the transference of governance of the school from the Congregation of the Holy Cross to a two-tiered, mixed board of lay and religious trustees and fellows. The school also admitted women to undergraduate programs beginning in 1972.

Father Hesburgh also played an influential role in national and international affairs both during and after his presidency. He held 16 presidential appointments over the years, tackling major social issues including civil rights, immigration reform, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders and development in the world’s poorest nations.

He was a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights when it was created in 1957 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He chaired the body from 1969 until 1972 when President Richard Nixon dismissed him over his criticism of the administration’s civil rights record.

The Holy Cross priest also served on President Gerald R. Ford’s Clemency Board, which was responsible for deciding the fate of Vietnam offenders.

His work on the two commissions led to the creation of the Center for Civil & Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School.

During a tribute on Capitol Hill in 2013, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle honored Father Hesburgh days before his 96th birthday. Vice President Joe Biden said during the gathering that he ran for public office at the age of 29 in 1972 because of Father Hesburgh’s passion for civil rights. “You’re one of the reasons I’ve been so proud to be a Catholic,” Biden told Father Hesburgh.

Other elected officials at the event praised Father Hesburgh as an inspiration for all people in public office.

Father Hesburgh served on the Overseas Development Council, a private organization supporting interests in developing nations, beginning in 1971 and chaired it until 1982. He led efforts to overcome mass starvation in Cambodia in 1979 and 1980. From 1979 to 1981, he chaired the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, which issued recommendations which became the basis of congressional reform legislation several years later.

During the Cold War in the early 1980s, Father Hesburgh joined a private initiative which sought to unite internationally known scientists and world religious leaders in condemning nuclear weapons. He organized a 1982 meeting at the Vatican of 58 scientists from around the world who called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Father Hesburgh served four popes, including three as the Vatican’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna from 1956 to 1970. Blessed Paul VI asked him to build the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, which the university continues to operate. Father Hesburgh also served as head of the Vatican delegation attending the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ human rights declaration in Teheran, Iran, in 1968. He also served as a member of the Holy See’s U.N. contingent in 1974.

In 1983, St. John Paul II appointed the Holy Cross priest to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He also served as a trustee and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He became ambassador to the 1979 U.N. Conference on Science and Technology for Development, the first time a priest served in a formal diplomatic role for the U.S. government.

In addition, Father Hesburgh served on several commissions and study groups in the field of education. He served as chairman of the International Federation of Catholic Universities from 1963 to 1970, leading a movement to redefine the nature and mission of contemporary Catholic education.

He holds 150 honorary degrees and was the first priest elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, serving for two years, from 1994 to 1995, as president of the board. He also co-chaired the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in its efforts to reform college sports, from 1990 to 2003.

Father Hesburgh wrote an autobiography, “God, Country and Notre Dame,” published in 1990 and three other books, including “The Human Imperative: A Challenge for the Year 2000,” “The Hesburgh Papers: Higher Values in Higher Education” and “Travels with Ted and Ned.”

He is survived by a brother, James. Three sisters preceded him in death.

The university said it was planning a tribute ceremony in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in the near future.

 

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Our Lenten Journey, February 27, 2015

February 27th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | February 27, 2015

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”

― St. Augustine of Hippo

 

St. Augustine reminds us that we are all sinners, but also all capable of redemption.

Today’s first reading speaks of the redemption of sinners:

“If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,

if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,

he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

 

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022715.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

 

FEB.27

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Choosing through the grace of God to be Catholics

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For The Dialog

 

Bishop Malooly welcomes some 200 people who will enter the Catholic Church fully during Easter Vigil

 

DOVER – Less than a year after she entered the Catholic Church, Jo Wardell returned to this year’s Rite of Election at Holy Cross Church with her mother, Sara Wardell; brother, Jason Wardell, and best friend, Sarah Shannon.

She held St. John the Beloved Parish’s Book of the Elect as Jason Wardell and Shannon signed it Feb. 21, declaring their intent to enter the church through baptism. Moments later she stood as her mother’s sponsor as the names of those who have been baptized Christian, but now desire to join the Catholic Church were called. Read more »

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Our Lenten Journey, February 26, 2015

February 26th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | February 26, 2015

Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy.”

— Blessed Paul VI

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that communicating directly — with God — is the best way.

Technology has overcome our everyday lives, so much that we may miss actual one-on one- human interaction. Perhaps we can think about putting aside the technology for a while and work on communicating directly with God through prayer — and others through personal conversations.

 

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022615.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

FEB.26

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Politician calls for coalition airstrikes to help Syrian Christians

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Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan — A prominent Syrian Christian political leader has called for U.S.-led coalition forces to use airstrikes to aid fellow Christian and Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State militants following reports of flagrant abductions and church burnings in northwest Syria.

“There is a need for immediate action similar to what took place in Kobani,” Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, told Catholic News Service, referring to a key Kurdish city in Syria.

A displaced Syrian girl finds temporary shelter at a school in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 23. A prominent Syrian Christian political leader has called for U.S.-led coalition forces to use airstrikes to aid fellow Syrian Christian and Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State militants in northwest Syria following reports of flagrant abductions and church burnings. (CNS photo/Youssef Badawi, EPA) See SYRIA-APPEAL

A displaced Syrian girl finds temporary shelter at a school in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 23. A prominent Syrian Christian political leader has called for U.S.-led coalition forces to use airstrikes to aid fellow Syrian Christian and Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State militants in northwest Syria following reports of flagrant abductions and church burnings. (CNS photo/Youssef Badawi, EPA) See SYRIA-APPEAL

There, near the border with Turkey and with help from international airstrikes, the Kurds drove out the extremist militants in January after a four-month siege resulted in a victory against the extremists.

Ishak’s appeal to stop the Islamic State advancement has been echoed by Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Hindo of Hassakeh.

“I wish to say quite clearly that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of those Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State),” Archbishop Hindo told the Vatican’s Fides news service.

“American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action,” he said.

Analysts in Washington confirmed his information. They said U.S. planes flew overhead, but there were no airstrikes made against Islamic State militants in the Hassakeh area.

Ishak said the area is being defended mainly by the Syriac Military Council, Christian police called “Sutoro” and Kurdish People’s Protection Units, but all lack sufficient weapons and ammunition. The groups are reportedly seeking immediate air support against the extremists.

 

On Feb. 27, he told CNS that Islamic State was reinforcing it positions and seemed “to be preparing for a big assault. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Kurds are at stake. We need action soon before it’s too late.”

“Christians in the city of Hassakeh called me. They are very scared,” he added.

 

“We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakeh, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is nowhere to be seen,” Archbishop Hindo told Fides.

The call by Archbishop Hindo, Ishak and other Christian leaders follows a church-burning and kidnapping spree that began Feb. 23.

The extremists attacked a series of Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabur River in the vicinity of the region’s hub of Hassakeh. They reportedly took 150 hostages, including women, children and the elderly, and forced more than 3,000 people to flee their homes.

At least one rights activist expressed concern that 30 young Christian women among those abducted would be used as concubines for Islamic State fighters.

“The terrorists first attacked the village of Tal Tamar … and all the many smaller villages as far as Tal Hermiz, where they set fire to everything,” Archbishop Hindo said.

The archbishop spoke of the militants taking “dozens of hostages, with the intention perhaps of using them to obtain a ransom or for an exchange of prisoners,” he added.

Father Emanuel Youkhana, who heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI, said Feb. 25 that more than 50 families in Tal Shamiran remained surrounded.

Dozens of other families had been captured and taken to the Sunni Arab village of Um Al-Masamier.

“They are alive so far, but the men have been separated from the women and children,” Father Youkhana said.

The priest said the situation represented another example in Syria of what was witnessed in Iraq this past summer: Arab Sunni Muslims joined and supported Islamic State in attacking their lifelong Christian and Yezidi neighbors.

He said the Assyrian Church of the East outside of Syria was communicating the direness of the situation to international agencies and decision makers.

Despite the turmoil and suddenness of the attacks, he said Bishop Aprim Nathniel of the Assyrian Church of the East remains in Hassekeh and is hosting and supporting the hundreds of displaced.

However, Father Youkhana said that because of ongoing conflict, the church lacks the required resources to aid all those in need.

Ishak also warned that if the villages of Tal Tamar and Ras al-Ain were to fall, then Islamic State militants could possibly encircle the area. This, he said, would pose a serious threat to larger towns such as Hassakeh and Amouda. Hassakeh borders Iraq and Turkey, and the extremists see it as a necessary bridge to unite areas under their control in Syria and Iraq.

The Assyrians are an ethnic group whose origins are in ancient Mesopotamia. They are a Christian people; the Chaldean Catholic Church was formed by a group of Assyrians who broke away and joined the Catholic Church in the 16th century. The Assyrians have traditionally lived in what is now Iraq, northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey.

 

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Our Lenten Journey, February 25, 2015

February 25th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | February 25, 2015

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” — St. Thérèse de Lisieux   As if Lenten sacrifices weren’t enough, we’ve also been dealing with the challenges of winter weather. St. Thérèse not only reminds us of the flowers that we will soon see in spring, but also speaks about the value of humility.

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022515.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

  FEB.25

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Four major snowstorms: Boston won winter this year, parishes are digging out

February 24th, 2015 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

BRAINTREE, Mass. — With record snowfall for this time of year, parishes all over the Archdiocese of Boston face more than just the issue of digging out after each storm.

Pastors interviewed by The Pilot, Boston’s archdiocesan newspaper, explained the impact of snowstorms, this year piled one on top of the other in one week. As of Feb. 24, Massachusetts was still digging out of 8 feet of snow left by four major winter storms.

A man shovels a sidewalk after heavy snowfall in Boston Feb. 10. With record snowfall for this time of year, parishes all over the Archdiocese of Boston face more than just the issue of digging out after each storm. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

A man shovels a sidewalk after heavy snowfall in Boston Feb. 10. With record snowfall for this time of year, parishes all over the Archdiocese of Boston face more than just the issue of digging out after each storm. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

With a variety of conditions facing urban, suburban, and somewhat rural parishes, The Pilot contacted pastors for their thoughts on the impact of blizzards and snowstorms in the parishes they serve.

Father Thomas S. Domurat, pastor of Most Holy Redeemer in East Boston, explained that in the tight streets of Boston parking remained limited if available at all, but the parish was facing additional challenges as a result of snowbanks piled high in the street.

“Our parking lot, a third of it is in snowbanks, so that reduces the amount of area for parking. We also had to wait a few days to get the rubbish removed because the removal truck couldn’t get in because of the large snowbanks outside. It couldn’t make the turn, so we had to bring the rubbish out onto the street one day for them to come get it. So, there is all kinds of issues involved, and it’s going to have an impact,” he said.

During the snowstorms themselves, parishes have faced the possibility of having to remain closed or cancel Mass. Father Domurat said as long as he is there, he lives on the premises, no such thing will happen.

“I never cancel. I’m here, so I’m going to say Mass. I go over to the church at 6 o’clock and if somebody comes, they can join me. If not, I would say Mass myself,” he said.

Reduced Mass attendance when parishioners simply cannot get to Mass because of whipping winds or driving snows has a twofold impact on the parish.

“Because people cannot find a place to park, they will not be able to come here for Mass, which means our collection was down over $2,000 last weekend and our plowing bill was over $2,000,” Father Domurat said in an interview after the Feb. 15 snowstorm.

As many parishes and buildings in Massachusetts do, the parish in East Boston also faces issues with ice dams, a buildup of ice near the eaves of a pitched roof that can lead to water damage and leaking.

“If this ice keeps building up in the gutters, we could end up with ice dams and leaks coming in. It’s hard to get some of that off because the roof is so high,” Father Domurat said.

In contrast, Father John E. Sheridan serves what is called the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative, which includes Sacred Heart in Middleborough, Sts. Martha and Mary in Lakeville, and St. Rose of Lima in Rochester.

In collaborative ministry, Father Sheridan could drive about 18 miles, according to Google Maps, on a day with Masses scheduled at all three churches.

“It’s been extraordinary. We have had to change Mass schedules. We have had to encourage people to stay home sometimes. It’s been very difficult to visit people, to get to places. It’s a glorious mess,” he said.

He said his staff has been very understanding as conditions changed with the weather, and schedules had to be adjusted. Father Sheridan said the parishes have chipped in to clear snow.

“The team of our three churches has really come together to make sure that all three churches, including the entire campus of Sacred Heart which has a very big campus, and they have worked their heads off to clear as much as they could,” he said.

Father Sheridan said communication became a key element to facilitate cooperation between the three parish communities. He said the collaborative used its website at cranberrycatholic.org, its Facebook page and a platform called Flocknote — an email and text messaging system developed specifically for churches to keep the three parishes connected.

“It’s been a great blessing of technology,” he said.

On his Facebook page, Father Sheridan regularly posts photos of the sun rising as he begins his day. In recent weeks the foreground has a thick coating of snow over what is normally a lake near where he lives in Lakeville. A photo of snow whipped up by the wind tagged at Sts. Martha and Mary bears the caption “Fiercely beautiful.”

“It is God’s creation. Beautiful as it is, it is also challenging. God presents these unique situations to us, and calls on us to give it our best,” Father Sheridan said.
By Christopher S. Pineo

 

Pineo is a reporter at The Pilot, newspaper of the Boston archdiocese.

 

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