Office of Faith Formation extends invitation to Year of Mercy afternoon of prayer, music and reflections

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

EAST FREETOWN, Mass. — The diocesan Office of Faith Formation is offering area faithful an opportunity to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, shortly before it comes to a close on November 20, the feast of Christ the King. Pope Francis opened the jubilee on Dec. 8, 2015, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

The event, which will take place October 22, from 1-4:30 p.m., at St. John Neumann Parish in East Freetown, will be threefold: Prayer, music of praise and worship, and two reflective presentations.

The office’s Adult Evangelization and Spirituality assistant director, Deacon Bruce J. Bonneau, is leading the afternoon themed, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof,” from Matthew 8:8.

“This is the only quote directly from Scripture that is used in the context of the Catholic Mass,” Bonneau told The Anchor. “And we’ve added to the theme — “But you are already there.”

“I got this quote from a writing of Jesuit Father William Breault,” added Bonneau. “It indicates that worthiness is not the issue to the Father. God does not love us any more or less if we do something wrong. Jesus did not come to change God’s thinking about man, He came to change man’s thinking about God.

“This Matthew quote is the last thing we say before we receive the Eucharist.”

Joining Deacon Bonneau will be noted theologian and speaker, Dr. Ernie Collamati, the vice chairman and professor of religious studies at Regis College in Weston. Collamati has led many days of formation and reflection, and will be presenting two reflections at the St. John Neumann event.

Leading the attendees in the music element of the afternoon is John Polce, a well-known and respected singer, song-writer, musician, and retreat leader.

Polce, a member of the Catholic Association of Musicians, has worshiped with faithful through his music and teachings at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro; has been featured on EWTN’s “Say Yes,” program with Irish singer, Dana; and has shared his talents at the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference in Ann Arbor, Mich.

For more than 25 years, he was brought his hopeful message to thousands of Christians with his live performances, recordings, TV and radio appearances, parish missions, retreats, and healing services.

“John is a very talented and faithful man.” Bonneau added that Polce has written at least one original piece for this Year of Mercy event.

“And Ernie is a wonderful, faith-filled man, and a remarkable speaker,” said Bonneau. “Many people have never heard him, but those who have, have come away the better for it.

“I will be leading the prayer aspect of the afternoon,” he added. “We will begin in the church with prayer, music and a reflection from Ernie.”

Collamati’s first session is titled: “Mercy: The Need to Rethink Our Understanding of God.”

“Here I hope to lay out on a practical and pastoral level the difference relating to a God of Mercy,” said Collamati. “A first exercise involves our examining the images of God we currently possess to see how well aligned they are with a God of Mercy.”

Bonneau added that there will be a half-hour slice of free time when attendees can elect to visit the chapel for Eucharistic Adoration, to roam the beautiful grounds of nearby Cathedral Camp, or to pray and meditate.

“After the break, we’ll gather in the parish hall for more prayer, music and one more reflection from Ernie.”

Collamati’s second reflection is: “What Will Mercy Cost Us and the Church?”

“The gift, graciousness and necessity of mercy bring with them a cost and a challenge because to live a life of mercy demands more of us and of the Church at large in her very life within the world,” said Collamati. “We’ll examine what it takes for us and the Church to incarnate mercy in what we say and do. It is what God, Who is mercy, calls us to be.”

Bonneau said the event will end around 4:30 p.m., and folks will have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is part of St. John Neumann Parish’s regular Sunday afternoon schedule, just prior to the 5 p.m Sunday Liturgy, which is also open to all.

“The afternoon is meant to tie the Liturgy, Scripture and the Year of Mercy together,” said Bonneau.

There is no cost to attend. Please RSVP by calling 508-678-2828, extension 27.

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