An Advent Message to our Parish Community

Awaiting the Lord to come by praying!

Last Sunday, as a Church and as a Parish Community, we began a new Liturgical Year, and we all know that the Liturgical Year begins with the Season of Advent which we define as the waiting time for the coming of Christ, a time of preparation for that coming.

From the first reading last Sunday, we heard those words of the Prophet Isaiah that were a plea full of urgency with which he would preamble the Savior’s coming. That yearning, that cry of the prophets of the Old Testament, was already fulfilled because of the first coming of the Son of God – his historical coming – that already took place more than two thousand years ago. Jesus was born, lived, suffered, died, and was risen on earth, in our history. And so, He has saved – He has rescued – the humanity that was lost by sin. The Salvation humanity expected was already realized by Christ. Now, it is our chance to take advantage of that Salvation already accomplished by Christ.

When we pray on a regular basis, we become more and more attentive to the day-by-day coming of God. Our waiting for God in prayer reminds us that we ourselves, including all that we strive to achieve, are not the center of the universe. The effects of the pandemic that we are living through dramatically remind us we have been standing on ground that can wash away beneath our feet.

For many of us, this year has been a type of wilderness experience, especially during the lockdowns. But being in this uncertainty is also a chance to find ourselves in a place where we must discover what is essential, where the irrelevant is stripped away and the vital becomes apparent, where the truth in our hearts is revealed. We have the chance of choosing what is really important, what makes a difference to us and to others.

In Advent, we await the birth of our Savior who was born at Bethlehem, but who never leaves us. In the Resurrection, Christ is always with us (see Matt 1:23). The risen Christ is the Christ of Bethlehem today! So, the Feast of Christmas, that we are preparing to celebrate, calls us to become more aware of His presence. Christ is present to us not only in the Word and Sacraments but also in the people who surround us. He comes to us in those who are afraid, in those who are isolated and lonely. It was Christ himself who said to us: “I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Matt 25:35-40). The Christ-child lying in a manger is but the beginning of the story.

In the face of all the anguish of the last nine months, we see heroism and patience and understanding; we see honesty and the unselfish service of others; we see genuine holiness and fidelity. There are people in the world, in the Church, in our parish community, in our families who are committed to the care of the sick and elderly, to the care of a countless number of brothers and sisters in need. Such lives, marked by a striving to minister to the sick and the dying and to the little ones, testify that Christ and His Kingdom are close to us and that the Lord has not abandoned His people even in the midst of this pandemic full of sadness, suffering, and loss.

In these days of Advent may we never cease to pray that the Lord’s Kingdom may come and that God’s justice and mercy may be done. Come, Lord Jesus! Please, do not delay!

God, bless you!

Fr. Michael Giannitelli
Pastor
Fr. Juan Angel Aguirre
Parochial Vicar

A Thanksgiving Message

My dear brothers and sisters,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Each and every year we are given another opportunity to pause as a nation to display our unicity and the love we have for our country, but this day, far from being a secular celebration, was entirely directed to God Our Father. An entire nation of people was asked for this one day of the year to pause in thanksgiving for all the blessings both received and imagine by our ancestors. This was a day when the entire country regardless of one’s religious background, spiritual proclivities, that as a nation we would offer our gratitude to Almighty God for the beautiful land that he brought the pilgrims. Wars, famines, disease… not a one of these realities was absented for those who honored God on this special day. We can do no less for in doing so would cause us to fail in our serious obligation to be grateful. If it is at all possible after having so many that have suffered, is it possible that we can be thankful this year for experiencing the best examples of Christian love? From those that work in the hospitals, for those whom are keeping our schools active, and for all government officials that discharge their duties always looking out for the best interest of God’s people.

At this moment, all of us must recognize that there are and have been people working day and night to eliminate the suffering that has been experienced all over the world. Let us remember those individuals who every day pray for the wellbeing of all of us.

If we call ourselves Catholic, we must avoid even the appearance of being part of any activity that increases violence and disrespect of any kind. We must be supportive of those who protect us. We must be accepting of the fact that, in any human endeavor, that endeavor is always bequeathed to frail human beings. We cannot forget that we ask so few to protect so many that are willing to go to places that you and I are not. We must be part of the solution.

So, on Thanksgiving, let us acknowledge all that is good, holy and noble. We must reflect on the important words of one of our greatest presidents that as a nation we have a duty to work to make a more perfect union. God bless each and every one of you. You are never out of our thoughts and prayers as your priests. Daily, all of your cares are placed upon the altar in full confidence that God will prevail. Please pray for your priests.

No one is to assume that they cannot call for the priest. We have given our lives to you and for you, and we are never to be excluded from the opportunity to bring the sacraments, the mysteries of the church, to you.

Begging God’s blessing upon our nation and this parish,
we are in Jesus Christ alone

Fr. Michael Giannitelli and Fr. Juan Angel Aguirre

Saint Mary’s Giving Tree – COVID Style

Normally, at this time of the year, we put up our Christmas tree and decorate it with tags for local agencies that have members in need.

However, with the pandemic this year, we have modified the program for everyone’s safety. This modification will allow us to still give a gift for others in need, but in a simplified fashion. We are asking that you purchase a gift card listed below. Please put it in an envelope labeled with the name of the organization that you would like the gift card to go to. You can drop the envelopes in the basket at mass or in the mailbox outside the church office. We will run the program this weekend through December 5th. Please drop off your gift cards by December 5th.

Gilead House $25 to Stop & Shop, Walmart or a gas card
Social Services for Families $25 to Walmart, Stop & Shop and Shoprite
Birthright $25 to Walmart, Target or Old Navy
CVH $25 to Ocean State Job Lot or Walmart
St. Vincent de Paul Place $10 to Walmart or Stop & Shop + a 1 pound box of candy
St. Mary’s needy Families $25 to Kohls, Walmart, Stop & Shop and Shoprite
Bare Necessities $25 to CVS or Walgreens
Social Services for Clinton Children $25 to Ocean State or Walmart
Veterans $25 to Ocean State or Walmart
Catholic Charities $25 to Walmart, Target and Amazon gift cards
Estuary Council of Old Saybrook $25 to Walmart or Stop & Shop

Thank you for your participation! Have a blessed, Merry Christmas, knowing that you have brought cheer into the heart of an unknown friend!

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Saint Mary Church During the COVID-19 Pandemic