Update…April 21st…Day 40 since the Churches have been closed
  • As just a point of information, I am on a weekly conference call with the bishop along with some other priests (Vicars and Deans) discussing the situation regarding our churches.  The bishop has tried to balance the need to be safe and compliant with the guidelines of the health authorities along with the need for worship. I think we are all hoping that some level of worship will be possible soon.  Let us continue with our prayers for that intention. 
  • Also….Doris Turner, 95, mother of Fr. Rick Turner, former pastor at St. Anne Parish, passed away peacefully at Mt. Saint Vincent Nursing Center on April 13th.  Mrs. Turner and her family were parishioners of Holy Name Parish in Springfield and, many years ago, lived on Carroll Street.  Let us keep Fr. Rick and the family in our prayers during this time of loss.  
  • We had our first Mass streamed live over Facebook on Sunday, April 19th.  Through the courtesy and effort of Joel McAuliffe and Joshua Clark, we have been able to stream this Mass life.  It is also on our website for a taped delay viewing courtesy of Janel Jorda, our Website Manager at Web-Tactics in Easthampton.  Dave Pastore has been providing music. We thank all of them for this effort. We anticipate doing this through the period of quarantine.  So, watch this Sunday, April 26th at 11am through our Facebook page or later on tape delay on our website at www.saintanne.us.  Of course, we all hope that will end soon while staying compliant with health directives.  
  • Please note that, although it is not possible to have Funeral Masses at this time, we will conduct Memorial Masses at a later date for those who have died.  

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Reflection:  Hearing the voice of the Spirit in the midst of distractions

Fame and fortune can be as deadly of a disease spiritually as the Coronavirus is as a physical danger.  Why do I say that?  Because fame and fortune can distract us away from what is important as much as facing hard times can do.  Just like these times of sequester can bring a malaise or apathy over our faith, so too can times of prosperity.

But some people who are famous are able to still hear the voice of the Spirit and respond to it despite distractions.  These unique individuals give us a model of how to respond to the Spirit in times of prosperity as well as in times of adversity.  It doesn’t matter whether we are in the midst of a pandemic or in the midst of prosperity and success----we can easily be distracted from the Spirit.  

One such famous person who put aside distractions was a Hollywood movie actress named Dolores Hart.  Dolores Hart starred in a number of movies in the late 1950s and early 1960s including movies with Elvis Presley.  Dolores Hart was a talented movie actress who had made 11 movies by 1962 including, “Come Fly With Me” and several Elvis movies.  A great future in movies was just ahead of her. In 1956, at age 18, she was given a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures. By 1962 she was a 24-year-old movie star on top of her game in Hollywood.  

But the glamour of Hollywood began to pale.  She once told Look Magazine:  “Before I was 20, I discovered that being in movies did not bring me the ultimate joy I expected.”  In between the movies she was making, Dolores would take short breaks at the Abbey of Regina Laudis----a cloistered Benedictine monastery down in Connecticut—not that far from us here in Chicopee.  Each time she went she found it harder to leave. She experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Then, in 1963 Dolores Hart did something that absolutely stunned Hollywood.  She gave up her career and walked away to join the monastery. In a culture that considers Hollywood as heaven…….it was inconceivable that someone would walk away and give that up.  When a reporter asked her how could she walk away from a career in Hollywood she replied, “How could I not?” Dolores was clearly moved by the Spirit to make a change in her life. She was able to hear and respond to the Spirit even in the midst of prosperity. 

You might say she went from “Hollywood” to the “Holy Wood” ----the holy wood of the cross that hangs up in the monastery chapel.  One has to wonder how Dolores may have first been received in the monastery since her background was so unusual. And yet, today, some 57 years later, Mother Dolores, as she is known, continues to live at the Regina Laudis Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut.  

Dolores Hart’s sudden change in her life reflects the changes made by many in life down through the centuries.  Most of course did not join a monastery. But many put aside aspects of their own life to change in a dramatic way.  

Dolores Hart was able to overcome fame and notoriety to discover a voice deep within her.  She was not distracted from it.  

It is not just fame and fortune that we can distract us.  We all can be distracted for many different reasons: we can be distracted with so much idle time we forget about praying daily; we can be distracted by anxiety over the virus that it inhibits us from maintaining a healthy relationship with God; we can be distracted by many things.  God’s voice is still speaking with us even in this month of April in the midst of a virus. Can we discern that voice in the midst of all that is going on? It can be a challenge to do so: both in times of prosperity and in times of adversity.

Remember, just down the road in Connecticut is Dolores Hart in the monastery.  Although sequestered like us, she gives us inspiration to rise above the distractions we have…..to hear the voice of the Spirit.

By the way…..a few years ago, Dolores Hart went on to help with a movie entitled, “God is the Bigger Elvis.”  It is a movie about Hart’s life.  It was a nominee for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).  It was shown on HBO in April of 2012. Maybe it is still accessible. Hart attended the Academy Awards that year for the documentary.  It was her first visit to Hollywood since 1959.