Pastor’s Weekly Message:
I think that we can all feel for the Prophet Elijah in our first reading this weekend. After all of his efforts have been met with opposition, conflict, and rejection he has had it!! He feels warn out, and he is ready to quit!! I think that we have all had the experience, at least from time to time, of seeing our best efforts fail to meet expectations. Those times when no matter what we try to do, it is not enough and we are filled with the frustration of seeing our efforts fail. Maybe there have been times when we, like Elijah, just want to quit; when we have had enough!!
In our story today, Elijah is visited by an angel of God who provides him with food and drink. At first, Elijah eats the food, but then goes back to his task-avoiding sleep. God’s Angel is persistent, however, and gives him enough food to nourish and strengthen him so that he can complete his journey to God’s holy mountain. From a theological perspective, and especially given the Gospel readings of the past few weeks, it could be easy for us to interpret this story as another example of how God is the Provider of our needs. That our God is a God who watches over us, and when He sees us in distress and weakening in our spirit, then God will come to our aid.
Few if any of us, I am guessing, have ever hit a “rough patch” in our lives only to have an Angel appear and make things right. Yet, while our experience of God might not have been as graphic and dramatic as Elijah’s experience was, I believe that God does come to our aid. The angels that he sends us just might not be that obvious or that recognizable.
How many times in your life have you experienced a difficult time only to receive a “surprise” phone call or a letter or an email from a close friend or family member who just seemed to be thinking of you that day and so reached out? Have you ever been feeling down or been struggling with an issue and you have an encounter with a total stranger at the store who smiles at you and speaks words of kindness that you really needed to hear? If you have ever had any experiences like these, then you have encountered an Angel. Angels come to us, and we serve as Angels to others when we listen to the stirring in our hearts to reach out in love to one another.
Often times we do not even know that we are doing an Angel’s task. Sometimes, though, we get lucky and we receive an affirmation that we have reached out to someone at exactly the right time and in exactly the right place where they needed help. Those times are blessed and wonderful affirmations of the Lord using us as His Angels. I suspect that one day, when we are called home to the Lord, we will learn just how often we have unwittingly served the Lord as His Angels through our acts of love and kindness.
So, the next time you are in need and you receive some “surprise” assistance, don’t be afraid to open your eyes and to call that encounter what it is: God’s Angel coming to you in your need.
~ Fr. Tom Gaughan, CSC
Father Tom Gaughan’s Introduction Bulletin:
Hello, Community of St Andre Bessette Church!!! It is such a Grace and honor for me to be asked to serve this wonderful Community as your newest Pastor. I am grateful, humbled, and excited for the opportunity to join this Community of Faith and Service. As my first “official” Bulletin entry, I would like to introduce myself and tell you all a little bit about myself.
I was born in New Bedford, MA in February of 1958; the third child (of four), second son, of Richard and Mary (Muldoon) Gaughan. Both my mom and dad were children of Irish immigrants to the US. Both of my grandfathers were born in Ireland (Counties Mayo and Donegal) and immigrated to the US as young men. My father was a fireman who ended his 30+ years of service to the city as Fire Chief. My older sister and brother, Kathleen and Rick, are “Irish twins” being born one year and four days apart! They are 5 and 6 years older than me, and my younger brother, Pat, is 6 years younger than me. My sister is currently living with my 92 year old mom as caregiver, my older brother retired last year after 33 years of teaching literature at the University of Central Arkansas, and lives in Conway, AR with his wife. My younger brother lives in Middleboro, MA with his wife and three boys, and works as a bank bigwig currently in Taunton, MA.
After graduating from Bishop Stand High School in North Dartmouth, MA in 1976, I headed off to Indiana to attend the University of Notre Dame. On May 18, 1980 (a date remembered around here for a certain mountain to the north that blew it’s lid that day) I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology. (I have always hoped that there was NOT a connection between me getting my ND degree and the earth shaking!!!!)
After graduation, I did a year of volunteer service as a Holy Cross Associate….HERE in Portland!!! So, after a 38 year hiatus, I have returned to the City of Roses!! And am excited to do so, I might add! Following my Associate year, I entered Formation for the Congregation of Holy Cross in August of 1981. In August of 1983 I Professed First Vows after completing the Novitiate Year in Colorado. In 1986, I received my second degree from Notre Dame, a Master of Divinity (no earthquakes or volcanoes this time!). In August of that same year, I Professed Final Vows and was Ordained a Deacon. I served as Deacon in a parish in South Bend, IN. Then, on April 25, 1987, I was ordained a Priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross. (Again, no natural disasters that I am aware of!) My first assignment as a Holy Cross Priest was to serve at Notre Dame. This assignment lasted 25 years during which time I served in many capacities; largely in Campus Ministry (10 years as Director of Retreats) and in Residence Life (20 years as Rector of Stanford Hall…one of the men’s residence halls on campus). Also during my time at ND, I earned my Doctorate in Preaching from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St Louis, MO.
When my time at Notre Dame drew to a close, I was granted some time in sabbatical to work on some of my research and writing. After the sabbatical, I was assigned to serve in southern Vermont as Parochial Vicar at the two parishes that Holy Cross staffs in Bennington. These past two years have been spent living at Stonehill College in North Easton, MA doing some writing for Holy Cross Family Ministries and helping out at local parishes in the Boston and Fall River Dioceses.
After God, Family, and Notre Dame, my loves are music and sports (specifically ice hockey: I’m a goalie….yes, that is a present tense description). I thank you all for your warm welcome, and very much look forward to serving you as your Pastor. God Bless you. St Andre, pray for us!!