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 Montague Catholic Social Ministries



Montague Catholic Social Ministries (MCSM) has served the families of Montague and Franklin County, Massachusetts since 1994 with free playgroups for children (one Spanish Language Playgroup); a Women’s Resource Center with drop-in hours, wellness and job-readiness programs; Family Support Home Visiting to strengthen family literacy and provide basic needs support; a weekly peer-driven Parent to Parent (P2P) support group; Open Hours for families to access emergency Basic Needs resources such as clothing, food, utility assistance, housing and referrals; and Parent Education offerings which include a bilingual series in partnership with the MA Family Center of Community Action, and this year for the first time, in partnership with the MA Dept. of Children & Families, the Gill Montague Regional School District, G-M Community School Partnership, Community Action’s MA Family Center and others, a bilingual 15-week, evidence-based Family Nurturing Program.


Spanish launguage playgroup which meets twice a month at Unity Park in Turners Falls.

Founded 17 years ago by local clergy in response to a crisis of violence in the community, MCSM’s mission, to listen and respond to the requests of our neighbors builds on the strengths they have to meet their own needs. 

MCMS staff:From top left, Linda Skelly, Susan Mareneck, Christine Diani, Rachel Lively, Ceil Celotto, and Victoria Barber-Flynn.

  Walking with people whose economic, educational or cultural status presents a challenge to their stability and security, together we discern their best strategy to work towards healthy, interdependent, contributing lives.  Staff, volunteers and peers develop responses to prevent conflict, build skills for work and education, nurture relationships for better parenting, healing from trauma, empowerment, advocacy and civic engagement.   Strong partnership and trust in the community enables us to provide over 3,000 services yearly.  Meeting the community regularly is our commitment.

Nurturing Families Program!


Many open doors to walk through – for families seeking respite from the degradation of poverty, a crisis of family violence or the loss of a job – lead to a nexus of services woven together in friendship.  The intimate scale of wrap-around support cultivates an environment in which each person matters. 

Vecina a Vecina (Neighbor to Neighbor)group which brings English and Spanish speaking women together to share language and culture and build community.

As the ever-shifting demands of society play themselves out in Franklin County, helping the newly arrived, the most vulnerable, those in unforeseen crisis to stay the course to recovery and productive lives, focuses us all on the unavoidable, ecological truth – it is in the act of caring for each other that we all survive.


The poignantly articulated (and translated) desire of four young mothers from Guatemala to learn English in order to help their children succeed in school, is the seed from which our unique 2012 ESOL partnership with the Center for New Americans, grew.


Women's Resource Center

(For additional information please contact: Susan Mareneck, Director, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, 41-43 Third Street, PO Box 792, Turners Falls, MA 01376, 413-863-4804,  Visit MCSM on the web at

This agency and others are supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal. (ACA)



Holy Thursday, Dolores Hart and the Mystery of Love

 By Sister Mary Ann Walsh
HBO explores the mystery of love April 5, when the network airs “God Is the Bigger Elvis.” It is the story of Dolores Hart, a young starlet of the fifties and sixties who became a cloistered nun. The little more than half-hour documentary, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012, reflects the mystery of God in the actress’s life and the power of two loves.Dolores Hart is now the prioress of Regina Laudis Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut. The story reveals the film and Broadway star’s enduring commitments to her one-time fiancé Don Robinson and to God. In 1963, Dolores Hart left Robinson, an architect, for life in the cloister. The stage lights yielded to chapel candles, and curtain call to the convent bell that announce the hours of the Divine Office. Their deep friendship remained, however; so too, her commitment to God.

“God Is the Bigger Elvis” celebrates lasting love. Don, who never married, visited Mother Dolores annually and helped support the rural 400-acre monastery with its working farm. He died last November. Mother Dolores, meanwhile, now celebrates almost 50 years as a Benedictine nun.

The actress, who gave Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss in “Loving You” and starred on Broadway in “The Pleasure of His Company,” knew romance-full Hollywood. Yet she chose the most romantic life of all when she entered the monastery. What can be more romantic that giving your life to the unseen God and responding to a stirring of the heart evoked by Someone who offers no sweet nothings?

In the documentary, Mother Dolores does not explain the call that has sustained her half a century. But who of us really can explain love, even the spark that launches a couple’s decades-long friendship, even marriage? “It was her smile,” some say. “His laugh.” “His eyes.” “The way she walked into a room.” “He was so much fun.” “She was so pretty.”

Even harder to explain is the love that a nun has for a church and a religious community through its human and, sometimes, inhumane moments. Who can explain her steadfast love for an itinerant preacher who walked in Galilee 2,000 years ago?

HBO will air the program on Holy Thursday, the commemoration of another love story, that of the Man Who gave up His life for His friends. It is the story of the ultimate sacrifice that underlies the faith of Christians around the world. Like other loves, it holds an element of mystery, and we accept it, without complete understanding.

Speaking to NBC-TV last January, Mother Dolores said that when she broke off her engagement, she told Don Robinson, “Every love doesn’t have to end at the altar.” On the Hollywood level, theirs did not. His obit said they were “close, close friends.” Yet, on the level of abiding friendship, perhaps it did.

For great loves do lead to an altar, the altar of sacrifice that is celebrated especially every Holy Week. It is a solemn love, intangible, yet real; more passionate than even swivel-hipped Elvis, and powerful enough to hold us to Him, never seen yet felt within our very souls.

 Sister Mary Ann Walsh is the Director of Media Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.