There are amazing opportunities to grow in faith for faithful Catholics in collaboratives and parishes across the archdiocese.
The Year of Mercy, which began on Dec. 8, continues with wonderful things happening in parishes and collaboratives throughout the archdiocese.
The collaborative parishes of St. Mary Magdalene in Tyngsboro, St. Rita in Lowell, and St. Marguerite d'Youville in Dracut, offered an all-night vigil on a Friday-Saturday last month. Prior to the vigil, volunteers hung posters with information about it in nearby shops and on the University of Lowell campus. Their work paid off. Following the vigil, Father Richard Clancy, the pastor, wrote: "Hard to put into words the graces that have come through the 24 hour Divine Mercy Vigil ... in our collaborative. The faithful came in droves and spontaneously and generously filled all the hours of adoration. Dozens of people came for the sacrament of confession. The first four and one-half hours were non-stop. We had penitents who went to confession last week and others who had not been in decades. They came at three o'clock in the afternoon and at three o'clock in the morning. Many came between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m. This extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is going to be a time of singular grace. I am so grateful for this time and I cannot wait for similar opportunities in the months ahead."
And, true to their word, the collaborative is planning another 24 hour Vigil of Mercy beginning at 9 a.m., Friday, Feb. 19, and concluding Saturday at 9 a.m. It will be held at St. Mary Magdalene Parish.
Amesbury and Salisbury have really embraced the Year of Mercy. Their goal of One Million Works of Mercy for the parishes of Holy Family and Star of the Sea has caught the attention of mainstream media. Parishes in Wareham, Dalton and Wellesley have inquired about the project, as well as St. Mary Parish in Johnson, Tenn. And a parish in Honolulu. (Father Scott Euvrard, pastor of the collaborative has graciously offered to go to Hawaii to consult!) Father Scott calculates that five parishes joining them, each with a goal of one million works of mercy, will result in six million works of mercy, with a ripple effect touching even more lives. Commenting on the recent press coverage of the $1.5 billion Powerball drawing, Father Scott says that he has "a far more interesting task ... covering the still growing number of works of mercy being done by our parishioners." This collaborative is well past 6,000 spiritual and corporal works of mercy accomplished by parishioners of all ages and stages of life. Father Scott was hoping to get nine parishioners to accompany him on a Saturday earlier this month to the Cor Unum Meal Center. It meant meeting at 4:45 a.m. to leave for Lawrence. He did not get nine volunteers -- 20 parishioners from both parishes showed up before dawn's early light to feed the hungry.
Father Scott offers his thoughts on their Year of Mercy progress in a blog on the collaborative website, livingwatercatholic.org. It is well worth reading. In one post, he reflects on how this idea has caught on within and beyond the collaborative.
"What started as an idea as small and as simple as the mustard seed, continues to grow," he writes. "The idea went something like this: Let's use the Jubilee of Mercy to make sure all of our parishioners know about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy so that they can commit to practicing these works for the Holy Year and beyond. To build some excitement about this, let's set a goal and see if we can reach it. Even the goal grew like a mustard seed, from 10,000 to 50,000 to 100,000 to 500,000 to 1,000,000!"
Both the Lowell, Dracut, Tyngsboro collaborative and the Amesbury-Salisbury collaborative know that mercy springs from prayer and attention to personal spirituality. St. Marguerite d'Youville hosts the collaborative's Adore Him evenings one Wednesday a month, following the 6 p.m. Mass. These evenings offer adoration, reconciliation and praise. Amesbury-Salisbury has planned an off-site day of prayer in March, with the focus on Luke's Mercy Parables.
There are amazing opportunities to grow in faith for faithful Catholics in collaboratives and parishes across the archdiocese. And it isn't even Lent yet! Just wait....
SUSAN ABBOTT IS COORDINATOR OF PARISH OUTREACH FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.