Holy Family Parish Cevicos Mission Highlights

As many of you may know Holy Family Parish of Cape Ann has a thriving mission outreach to its sister parish, Nuestra Senora del Pilar, in Cevicos, the Dominican Republic.  It began in 1999 when Deacon Bill Kane made his first trip to Cevicos and recognized the depth of the poverty in this community located in the center of the Dominican Republic.  Seventeen years later, the mission has grown to include home visits, educational scholarships, loans to small businesses, home repairs, and a partnership with Shriners Hospital in Boston to treat children with more serious needs.  The cornerstone of the mission outreach is thrice yearly visits to Cevicos by teams of missionaries to deliver medical care.

Jean and Willy Dugan, members of the Mission team which will be traveling to Cevicos next Saturday, January 14th, highlight some of the past year’s accomplishments in their letter below.  -MN

To our dear friends of Holy Family Parish Mission,

Willy and I are packing for our trip to Cevicos; we’ll be leaving on the 13th for what we hope is another week filled with blessings and work with the people we have come to love there. I would call it an “annual” trip but it’s actually the culmination of our year-round work with this amazing project which is so much more than the sum of its parts, and which continues to bring us joy, year after year.

Several exciting things have happened in 2016 that illustrate how far we’ve come over the past 17 years. One of our biggest dreams has come true: we’ve hired a young, bilingual doctor, Doctora Mariney Perez, to run a drop-in clinic and pharmacy in our building five afternoons each week. This means that our mission has a medical presence in Cevicos not only for the three weeks our missionaries can be there, but all year. Dra. Mariney can keep tabs on the many patients we see with chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, she is available for the very common “el grippe” in children, and she can recommend special cases for further treatment and translate complicated medical records.

We’ve also continued our relationship with the incredible Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, and this fall we brought three young children to Boston for serious (and successful), life-changing surgery. Yosmayri (4) and Frederick (11) had both accidentally ingested caustic cleaning fluids – a common hazard for families living in poverty. Each of them is now thriving and able to eat solid foods for the first time in years. Elizabeth (10) was here for the second of many plastic surgeries for burn treatment, this time a skin graft to help her move more easily as she grows. Yosmayri’s mother told me “We found in all a family”. A partnership with an organization called Children’s Flight of Hope makes transportation more affordable as we bring more children to Boston.

Along with these important developments we continue the work that was begun in Cevicos in 1999: We continue to collect and purchase medicines and medical supplies for our three mission trips each year; we support and encourage several young people in their university studies, we visit people who are homebound (and provide the nutrition and hygiene products that they need between visits); we have a revolving microfinance fund that enables small businesses to get a good start and we have been providing some home repair grants so families can live in safe, sanitary homes. And we continue to try to find sources of clean water, since so many of the diseases we see in our clinics are the direct result of contaminated water.

We are not part of any larger organization and every dollar we raise goes directly to our programs and our work in Cevicos. One of our partners is MAP International which provides generic medications at very low cost for groups like ours.  Because it is work that continues 365 days a year, donations are needed year-round. If you would like to donate to our work, you can send a check, made out to “Holy Family Parish Mission”, to Willy Dugan, 15 Cherry Street, Gloucester, MA 01930 or give through PayPal on our website, www.holyfamilycevicos.com.

Please keep these three children in your heart, and others that we may meet next week. Thank you for whatever you can do, whenever you can do it.

With our love and best wishes that your 2017 may be a year filled with goodness,

Willy and Jean










Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.

Rights And Responsibilities

chma-disability-photo-montageThe Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.




Be still and know that I am God


be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god..jpg On a recent vacation I found myself busy each day.  When we checked into yet another Bed and Breakfast I was tired but my mind raced with the next day’s plans.  As we unpacked I noticed a plaque on the wall with this Psalm.  It became my motto for the rest of our journey.  I can’t say that the urge to run through each day cramming the maximum number of experiences into it left me, but I visited this Psalm often and tried to live more in the moment fully present to its beauty.

Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, Theme 2: Call To Family Community And Participation


The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics  and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.  Marriage and the family are the central  social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We  believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking  together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and  vulnerable.




Economic and social policies as well as organization of  the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the  strength and stability of family life.The long-range future of  this nation is intimately linked with the well-being of families, for the  family is the most basic form of human community.  Efficiency and competition in the marketplace  must be moderated by greater concern for the way work schedules and  compensation support or threaten the bonds between spouses and between parents  and children.  Economic Justice for All, #93
The first and fundamental structure for a “human  ecology” is the family . . . founded on marriage, in which the  mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which  children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their  dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny.  On the Hundredth Year(Centesimus Annus. . . ), #39


But God did not create  man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them”  (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal  communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he  relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential. The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes. . . ), #12

The nation’s founders  took daring steps to create structures of participation, mutual accountability,  and widely distributed power to ensure the political rights and freedoms of  all. We believe that similar steps are needed today to expand economic  participation, broaden the sharing of economic power, and make economic  decisions more accountable to the common good. Economic Justice for All, #297

In order that the right to development may be fulfilled by action:  (a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with  their own culture; (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able  to become the principal architects of their own economic and social  development. Justice in the World (Justica in Mundo), #71

The primary  norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the  “principle of subsidiarity” cited above. This principle states that,  in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those  initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting  independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and  individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively  to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice  exceed their capacities. These does not mean, however, that the government that  governs least, governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as  that which truly “helps” other social groups contribute to the common  good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as  “the occasion requires and necessity demands”.  Economic Justice for All, #124

Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in  the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others.  Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate. . . ), #57

In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral  obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow  Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of  the Catholic Church reminds us, ‘It is necessary that all participate, each  according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This  obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life’ (nos. 1913-1915).  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #13



Madonna and Child

Art work by Sister Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ of Carondelet and Consociates, St. Paul Province


The August 19th edition of the New York Times published a heartbreaking photo of a small, traumatized Syrian boy, a victim of an air strike in Syria’s civil war, on the cover. Sister Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, an artist, responded by creating a collage that put the child in the arms of Mary and gave him a mother for our prayerful contemplation.

She found the photo of the Mary statue in the Art section. She calls the collage: The Times.  Sister Ansgar wrote, “I couldn’t leave that little Syrian boy without a mother,” and created this painting of Mary of Nazareth, revered in Islam as well as Christianity, comforting the boy.


Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching: Theme 1: Life and Dignity of the Human Person


The Catholic Church  proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is  the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of  all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under  direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being  threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death  penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

Continue reading “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching: Theme 1: Life and Dignity of the Human Person”

The Narrow Gate: Homily by Deacon Bill Kane

A week ago Sunday Deacon Bill Kane delivered a homily on Luke’s Gospel 13: 22-30, the parable of the Narrow Gate.  This has always been a difficult story for me to reconcile.  I was very moved by his understanding of this passage and so am sharing it with you below.  M.N.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

I have lived in this parish for 36 years…..and I have been your Deacon for over 25 years.  I have come to know how narrow the gate to the Kingdom has been for many of you.  I have seen the pain and the trouble and the disappointment in many of your lives.  The gate is narrow…because it is not easy today to raise children.  The gate is narrow…..because it is not easy to be Pro-Life in a culture of death.  The gate is narrow…..because it is not easy to live with addictions.  The gate is narrow…..because society does not make it easy to be a faithful Catholic.  But….. I also know…that today this church is filled with people who struggle to choose the narrow gate to God’s Kingdom.  And that helps me, it helps me…as Jesus said…to “strive to enter”.

But I think you and I need ….with each other’s help to remember that this narrow gate that Jesus speaks about…..isn’t narrow because God is trying to fix it so that only a few people can pass through it.  No…..I think it is narrow for us because of the way we sometimes think about it!

I say that because we think sometimes of the narrow gate as something different to each of us.  A little story might explain what I mean:


A bunch of children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic School for lunch.  At the head of the table…..there was this large pile of apples.  And one of the nuns had put a note on the apples that read:  TAKE ONLY ONE…..GOD IS WATCHING.

And so moving through the line to the other end of the table……was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.  And when he saw the cookies…..one of the boys quickly wrote a note and put it on the cookies that read:  TAKE ALL YOU WANT……GOD IS WATCHING THE APPLES!

And I think the point of the story is that no matter how difficult or painful or problematic life is sometimes for you and me…..no matter how narrow that gate is to His Kingdom….God WANTS us to be HAPPY.  I believe that Jesus always described a God who isn’t watching us like apples…..waiting to pounce on us for making a mistake.  I believe that Jesus always described a God…..who wants you and me to be Happy…….even when difficulties and difficult choices make the Gate to His Kingdom seem narrow.

And I also think that if you and I are open to God in the ordinary things in life…..then what Jesus said about God becomes more real.

Many years ago…my four year old grandson Owen…..was out in the yard playing in his sandbox.  And when it was time for his lunch…..he came inside and finished off a big peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Now by this time…..he was covered with sand and dirt and his face was messy and sticky from peanut butter and jelly.  But he wanted to sit in my lap and talk about all the things going on in his little mind.

You and I are like Owen!  God loves us…..and we have to approach God with a grimy kiss sometimes.  But God looks through our messiness and our dirt.  He looks through all the things that are wrong…..all the things that hurt…..and He still sees innocence and a desire to love.  Jesus said God is like that!  God accepts our grimy kisses and is pleased that we want to be with Him no matter what our condition or mess we are in.   God grabs hold of our hands and walks with us…….it doesn’t matter to him.

What waits for us on the other side of the narrow gate is Joy.  God will want to know if we found Joy in our lives…..and he will want to know if your life and my life brought joy to someone else’s life.









Catholic Social Teaching is Built on a Commitment to the Poor

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a series of articles exploring the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  This short introduction to the foundational principles is from their web site. Over the next several weeks we will look at each of the seven themes articulated by the bishops.-M.N.


Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came “to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind”(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with “the least of these,” the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the eucharist.

“Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith.”

As the Catechism of the Catholic Churchexplains, “To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren” (no. 1397).

Catholic social teaching emerges from the truth of what God has revealed to us about himself. We believe in the triune God whose very nature is communal and social. God the Father sends his only Son Jesus Christ and shares the Holy Spirit as his gift of love. God reveals himself to us as one who is not alone, but rather as one who is relational, one who is Trinity. Therefore, we who are made in God’s image share this communal, social nature. We are called to reach out and to build relationships of love and justice.

Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.

Our commitment to the Catholic social mission must be rooted in and strengthened by our spiritual lives. In our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart that is necessary to truly love one another as God has loved us.



A Gardener’s Prayer

A Gardener’s Prayer

O Lord,

Grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from thumb_IMG_5505_1024about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, heliaanthemum, lavender, and the others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought loving plants – I will write their names on a paper if you like – and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not for instance, on spiraea, or on gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron), and not to much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven.

Karel Capek, The Gardener’s Year, 1929