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(Editor’s Note: Catholic Communications reporter Sharon Roulier attended the Chrism Mass on March 29 at St. Michael’s Cathedral. You can read her story on Wednesday on www.iobserve.org and watch highlights of it on “Real to Reel” on Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m. on WWLP-TV22. )
Almost 1,000 people gathered at St. Michael’s Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass. The Mass is one of the largest annual gatherings of clergy and faithful in the diocese. At it, the priests renew the commitments they made at their ordination.
And the three holy oils, are presented.
The Oil for the Holy Chrism:
The Sacred Chrism is consecrated and all the priests present participate in the moment by extending their hands toward the vessel as the bishop says the prayer of consecration.
The Chrism is used at the ordination of priests and bishops, baptisms, confirmations, the consecration of altars and the blessing of churches.
As part of the consecration of the Chrism, balsam is poured into the oil, which gives it a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odor of sanctity.”
The Oil of the Sick:
This oil is used when administering the Sacrament of the Sick. If is for those who seek anointing for illness or when they are near death.
The Oil of the Catechumens:
This oil is imposed on those preparing for baptism. This oil and the Oil of the Sick are blessed. The Sacred Chrism is consecrated.
Most of those attending the Mass were people who participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and teens from diocesan Confirmation programs.
Behind the scenes, volunteers from Cathedral High School and St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Springfield helped out in the Holy Spirit Chapel. Under the direction of Father Jack Sheaffer, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, the young people filled the cruets and other containers with the holy oils that will be used in the parishes throughout the year.
In addition to the young helpers, a dedicated crew made this spectacular celebration possible.
Msgr. Christopher D. Connelly of St. Michael Cathedral Parish organized the event with the help of Father Gary Dailey, diocesan director of vocations, and Deacons Tom Callahan and Leo Coughlin. Many others arrived at one in the afternoon, including Sisters of St. Joseph Margaret McNaughton and Eileen Sullivan from St. Michael Cathedral Parish. Also lending a hand to carry 49 chairs from the Holy Spirit Chapel to the cathedral were: Tucker Moran, Paul Evans, Una Trudell, sacristan, and Jessica Hill from the Office of Worship. The diocesan seminarians assisted with the clean-up and more moving of furniture!
It was a proud and happy night for the diocese.
By Ralph J. Ferraro
Director of the Italian American Press
Lent is a time when we turn to God to pray for wisdom, guidance, strength and sometimes a healing for ourselves or others. Below are some of my observations on prayer which readers may find helpful.
When we pray, we must trust in the answers we receive, whether or not they are the answers we expected or desired. We should relax before praying, quiet the mind and body by breathing deeply and making a passive effort to release any tension we may feel. Favorite prayers or mantras can help us to achieve a peaceful and receptive state of mind.
When praying, we should realize that a calm, confident, and trusting attitude can influence the effectiveness of our prayers. If we feel an unknown obstacle is preventing our prayers from being answered, we should ask God what must be done to correct the situation. If our prayers have not the sufficient spiritual strength to accomplish their purposes, we can request from the Holy Spirit the knowledge whom to seek for aid in our petition.
Visualizing the desired outcome of your prayer, picturing it clearly and vividly, utilizing all the senses whenever possible. See the outcome occurring in the present, not in the future. Confident that God has answered your prayers, we give thanks for this blessing.
Only after much discipline can we learn how to pray effectively. Even to say we practice prayer, however, is a misnomer, for according to Scripture and tradition God alone teaches us to pray. When we call on the Lord in prayer, it is really the Lord beckoning us. As Christ taught his disciples, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Calling on God demands a special grace, one which not only draws us nearer to Him but also brings Him closer to us.
The Quest: Maximizing Health and Wellness Through Spiritual Healing is a small but powerful book providing a crystal-clear guide to the limitless scope of prayer and the full potential of God’s healing energy as manifested through the Spirit. A primer for those interested in healing, The Quest examines the research and findings relevant to spiritual healing as well as advocating an agenda of prayer, visualization, and meditation for those who wish to experience health and wellness.
The Quest encourages one to develop, support, and maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit by awakening and experiencing God’s loving energy, a healing power fully capable of transforming illness and disease into health and wellness. Written in a lucid style and arranged in an easy-to-follow format, this instructive self-help text consists of the following chapters:
· Tools for the Quest
· The Cleansing Process
· Spiritual Healing
· Wellness and Other Spiritual Gifts
The Quest is available to individuals free of charge in order to familiarize the public with the benefits of spiritual healing as well as to promote a greater awareness of the vital role that religion/spirituality plays in achieving health and wellness. Readers can simply download or read from their computers this free informative text written by Italian American author and educator Raphael (Ralph) Ferraro. Read Introduction to The Quest. Click here for free ebook .
The Italian American Press promotes self-published books by Italian Americans and writers from Western Massachusetts, whose books all too often go unnoticed or are ignored by the media. These writers print, distribute, and promote their own books. Self-published authors who wish to sell their books through our Website can e-mail us for information or send us a complimentary copy of their books for our consideration. If we accept the books, we will list and promote them on our Website for free.
By Joanne Powers
Lead teacher at the Saint Michael’s Academy Preschool Discovery Campus
When the children were asked why they like to come to Saint Michael’s Academy Preschool Discovery Campus they gave us many interesting and amusing answers.
Here is a sampling of some of their sweet insights…
Samantha Burnette from Mrs. Taylor’s Young Explorers classroom responded “I like coming to school because I learn about Jesus”.
Nate LeClaire said ”I like to learn about my letters and numbers.”
A student in Mrs. Chaput’s Busy Bee’s, Aidan Colon, replied “I likes to build with my friends.”
Mrs. Zajdel’s Young Explorer Colon Elliott said ‘I like to dig in the sand box.”
Here at the Saint Michael’s Preschool Discovery campus, we believe that play is the primary vehicle for learning and that through play , academic success is achieved.
Our program is a faith based program where children are encouraged to investigate through stimulating hands-on experiences that promote competence, self-confidence and self -direction while developing a positive attitude about learning.
A place where discovery leads to learning.
Enjoy the photos of our happy children!
For more information about St. Michael’s Academy call 413-439-4310 or log onto www.smaspringfield.org.
By Ned Hogan
Development Director at Cathedral High School, Springfield
As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly difficult week at Cathedral High School.
But the real story is that through prayer and mutual support the school is moving ahead.
On Sunday morning, as word spread that a CHS student had been killed in a senseless act of violence, the school administration began to look ahead.
What should be done to provide a safe environment for teenagers to deal with the unthinkable truth that one of their own had been murdered?
Every school is supposed to have a “Crisis Plan” but no one ever wants to have to use it. The Plan, and the leadership of John Miller, Christine Judd, Marie Hennessey and the Counseling Department prepared the school for a most difficult Monday.
Students woke to the headline in the Springfield Republican – “Cathedral Student Stabbed” and even more difficult was that nearly 70 CHS students had been present at the event where Conor Reynolds was attacked. Several of them held him and tried to assist him as his life slipped away. They had been traumatized.
Throughout the day counselors and others were there to provide a soft shoulder, a warm hug or just a listening ear.
But the real catharsis occurred at the Vigil held at Cathedral Monday evening. Nearly 800 students, parents and other members of the Springfield community gathered to pray, to grieve and to support one another through an unimaginable tragedy.
Adults spoke of the hope for real change – an end to senseless violence that has gripped the Springfield community. Some spoke from experience of losing their own sons to violence on the streets of Springfield.
But then it was the students’ turn, and they spoke with love about their friend, classmate and teammate. They spoke of his smile, his enthusiasm and of his special place within the Class of 2010. Everyone knows that this spring will be different because Conor is not with us. And yet, we all know that he is inside each if us whose lives he touched.
Cathedral suffered a great loss when Conor died – a loss we can never fill. But his passing has created something new. There is a deeper sense of our being a community that cares for one another. There is a special place where God has touched our souls, individually and collectively, and has put us on a path to healing. The pain will not go away easily, but in the pain we are finding God, in and through one another.
By Perry Lamkins
Perry is a religion teacher at Cathedral High School and a reporter for Catholic Communications. He offered this reflections after being Conor’s teacher for the past two years.
I met Conor Reynolds in my social justice religion class in the fall of 2008.
Most days he had a smile on his face. Through class discussions I discovered he knew the teachings of the Catholic faith and he carried them in his heart.
I remember last year, my juniors needed a little help focusing on their vocation and what it means to be a student. I gave a pop quiz, and even though many students were disgruntled, Conor simply wrote: “ What I am supposed to do as a student is… come prepared to class everyday; try my hardest in any given subject; have respect for the teacher; and have respect for other students.”
I remember one day last year there were a lot of juniors absent from school. (I think
it was an unofficial get ready for prom day). Many of the juniors weren’t in the building.. However, Conor showed up to class. So, what does a teacher do when 1 out of 25 students show up for class? Pop in a movie. Conor loved movies. It was “Pay It Forward.”
Conor said he had seen it before and we thought it would be a good service project movie to watch. He could identify with the main concept of the movie. Conor was someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand.
Conor signed up this year to take my world religion course.
In his senior service project proposal Conor wrote, “I want to take it serious this year and do a lot to help people in need. I feel that because I have been blessed with everything I have, I should share it with people. Once I am done with the 24 hours of service needed, I will probably continue to do some service just for the rewarding feeling you get after. Overall I think that I will benefit greatly from my service.”
Conor was a kid who just got it: Conor just got the connection between his faith and the people he shared his passion for life with.
When I think of Conor; he was a good student. He was funny and had a good Irish wit about him. There were days when he would try to sneak coffee into my room or plug his cell phone into an outlet just so he could stay connected with the outside world. I guess you can say he felt at home in my classroom. I will miss Conor.
Watch for a story about Conor Reynolds on “Real to Reel” this Saturday, March 20 at 7 p.m. on WWLP-TV22.
By Deacon Bill Moesley
St. Charles Parish, Pittsfield
On Saturday, March 13, I attended the 8th Annual Men’s Conference at Cathedral High School in Springfield, sponsored by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell. I never hesitate to register for this event. I have only missed one and that was due to a snow storm.
It is a wonderful opportunity for men to get away and “Grow In Faith.” Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” And that auditorium is filled with Jesus and his Holy Spirit.
There are always at least four speakers with great faith-filled messages. This year we had five dynamic speakers. To make it even better, we had one of our very own, Fr. Warren Savage, who is fabulous!!!
They were: Patrick Mc Caskey, co-owner of the Chicago Bears
Michael Preisler, a surviver of German Concentration Camps
Francisco “Paco” Gavrilides, who spoke to the Latino men.
and Raymond Arroyo of EWTN.
All of them held us spellbound with their presentations.
One of the highlights of the day, for me, is the one-hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the “Hem of the Garment” procession. In this procession a priest carries the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament up and down all the aisles of the auditorium.
Men can reach out and touch the Monstrance or touch any part of the priests garment (Cope) . I always kneel down on both knees, pick up the “hem of the garment” and kiss it. A feeling of warmth spreads through my whole body and I know Jesus has touched me. The Holy again!! Then I pray for whatever healing I need whether physical or spiritual.
An unexpected faith-filled experience for me was Michael Preisler’s talk. I hadn’t read anything about him prior to his talk. but when he started talking about his seven years in the Concentration Camps of Auschwitz and Mathausen, my stomach started to flutter, my heart began to beat a little faster, and visions of World War II began to flood my memory.
They were flashing pictures of the camps on a large screen,and I had personally witnessed the gruesome scenes. Michael had spent seven years in Auschwitz watching people die every day. Strangely, something told me I had to go up and embrace this man.
No, I must be imagining it. But the feeling got stronger and stronger. I thought, “Bill, you must go down there.” After fighting the feeling for about 15 minutes, I found myself walking down the aisle to the podium. When I got close to Michael, Fr. Daley was there and he looked at me with a quizzical look on his face. I said, ” I apologize for this interruption but I just had to come down and embrace this man. I am 87 years old and fought with the 9th Infantry Division of Gen. George Patton’s Third army in Europe.”
And, suddenly, over 400 men were on there feet applauding. I couldn’t believe it!! When they finally sat down, I continued, “We liberated Auschwitz and Mathausen and I know what Michael went through. God Bless you, Michael!!” And started back to my seat. Another standing ovation and hand shakes and pats on the back, and thank yous all the way back to my seat.
Needless to saythis was one of the best conferences for me. So faith-filled!! I can still see 93 year old Michael at the podium. His story can bring tears to your eyes. How blessed I was to attend this conference.!!
And her are some other scence from the conference…..
We’re keeping the light on
By Father Bill Pomerleau
Pastor of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish
A number of years ago, the Motel 6 burst onto the national scene with a series of radio spots proclaiming that “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
When writer Tom Bodett coined the tag line for the discount motel chain in 1986, it had 200 locations across the United States. Today, there are more than 800 Motel 6s across North America, and the chain is now owned by a giant French-based corporation that operates thousands of motels and hotels all across the world under different brand names.
I’m not quite sure if I’d call Bodett a personal hero, but as a former radio man myself, I admire how his folksy commercials have made just another chain into an American icon.
Down through the years, I’ve stayed at hundreds of inexpensive motels both here and abroad, and I’ve yet to run across one that didn’t keep its lobby lights on at night. Arriving in certain towns without a reservation, I’ve stayed at pleasant Super 8s when the local Motel 6 had a “no vacancy” sign next to its light. But when I think simple motel, I still think of the chain that Bodett made famous.
In the last few years, a number of archdioceses and dioceses across the country have instituted the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Motel 6 campaign during Lent with the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The idea is simple. Get the word out that confession is simple, convenient and readily available at a time folks can remember, and people will come back to the sacrament.
In Boston, they’ve even borrowed a bit of that famous slogan we know. All across eastern Massachusetts, churches and chapels are open for confessions each Wednesday night during Lent from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Or as the archdiocesan Website puts it, “The Light is on For You.”
Many churchgoing Catholics might find this campaign a bit silly. After all, nearly every parish in the country has scheduled confession times on Saturday afternoons, and in many parishes, the priests are willing and able to hear your confession on Sunday. And then there are all those parish and inter-parish penance services. In urban areas at least, a simple phone call to any priest usually gets you an appointment for confession within a few hours.
But the fact is, times have changed, and we need to change with the times.
A few weeks ago, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell strongly encouraged, but did not require, all parishes in western Massachusetts to keep their lights on for Reconciliation from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Wednesday in Lent. Since his suggestion came to the presbyteral council relatively recently, some pastors were not able to arrange their personal or parish schedules on time. Fortunately, the priests at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield have been able to commit themselves to “keep our light on.” As pastor, I ran a few bulletin announcements and posted an invitation on the outdoor sign that is visible from Boston Road.
To my mild surprise, the strategy is working! While I cannot of course reveal the content of anyone’s confession, I am able to report that our Wednesday night hour has already attracted penitents who would most likely not show up in our reconciliation at any other time. And while I cannot report that there are long lines waiting for Wednesday night confessions, I can tell you that some penitents I have come into contact with lately have not taken advantage of the sacrament in some time.
Unlike in other places, the Diocese of Springfield has begun this effort without little outside publicity, much less a paid media campaign. If we had placed billboards on buses and aired television commercials promoting the program, there is little doubt in my mind that we would be now enjoying the fruits of this sacramental outreach.
In recent months, there has been much understandable attention paid to the trauma accompanying parish and school closings in our diocese. That hurt is real, and must be dealt with over time.
But at the same time, I suspect that we may be sadly unaware of another development that is occurring across the nations in dioceses like Springfield. After years of drifting away from traditional reconciliation rituals, many U.S. Catholics – particularly young Catholics – are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The trend has been documented in other places, and I suspect that it may already be occurring here in Springfield.
Maybe all we need to help this trend along is scheduling strategy, and a catchy slogan.
Let’s spread the word that the church will keep its lights on for reconciliation!
For a schedule of confessions, Stations of the Cross, lenten events and Holy Week services log onto
Youth Center Incorporated in Adams is one of the many agencies assisted by the Annual Catholic Appeal. Liz Baker, executive director of Youth Center Incorporated shared this reflection on how the Appeal helps their work.
By Liz Baker
Youth Center Incorporated (YCI) helps young people build positive connections within their families, schools, and communities. Our mission is to provide community-based educational, recreational and social activities in a safe, supportive environment. The Annual Catholic Appeal has been a steward of YCI programs for over 22 years, and is an integral part of meeting our mission.
YCI has three major areas of programming; drop-in program, classes/special events, and community outreach. YCI’s base of operations is located at the Adams Community Center, where the drop-in program is. There, the young people “drop in” after school. At the drop-in many of the YCI principals are established. Providing a safe and supportive environment for youth development is of most importance for success. According to americaspromise.org young people; “need a healthy balance between structured, supervised activities and unstructured time”. YCI ensures the drop-in is a place where young people can build developmental assets such as positive adult role models, peaceful conflict resolution, sense of purpose, values, commitment to learning, and social skills. Drop-In participants age range from age 9 to 17.
Classes and special events include ongoing karate club and Red Cross babysitting course. There are seasonal/special classes such as; woodworking, technology/computers, chorus, and sign language- to name a few. Special event programming includes field trips, science fair, Christmas Make-it Take-it fair, Easter egg hunt, or campfire night. Attendance at special events range from 50 to 500 participants; with an average of 75. Currently YCI is working with a long-time friend and collaborator Church Outreach To Youth (COTY), in North Adams to expand in this area.
Community outreach is done through venues such as going to the local schools. The focus is on educational enrichment, team and community approach. The goal is to get young people motivated and focused about their life and future aspirations of which afterschool and school are major influencers on success in early adulthood. YCI performs outreach at the Adams, Cheshire and Savoy schools. Right now we are in the midst of the “You Rock”, a six-week character building class.
Approximately 65% of the young people attending the programs at the YCI are at-risk youth (e.g. receiving free and reduced lunch, under performance in school and low-income). Many of them rely on YCI for support ranging from homework help/academic enrichment, where to find social services, as well as developmental skills. Thanks to the Annual Catholic Appeal the at-risk youth we serve are given a place to learn, grow and make connections with their community. Thank you Annual Catholic Appeal!
YOUTH CENTER INFORPORATED
Serving the Communities of Adams, Cheshire & Savoy
P.O. Box 461, 20 East Street, Adams, MA 01220
Phone: (413) 743-3550 Fax: (413) 743-9550