“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Corinthians 6:19-20
Body, Mind, Spirit
Holistic health recognizes that God created us body, mind, and spirit, and that all must be cared for in harmony. As faithful, we are members of the body of Christ and as we become one with Him by receiving the body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we need to remember to treat our whole selves with the sanctity that God intended.
A 2018 Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing are likely to be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood than those who did not. Emilie Kao, the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said she was not surprised by the researchers’ findings, noting that the Harvard study joins a long list of studies showing a positive link between religion and well-being. “I think they’re consistent with other research that we’ve seen that shows religious beliefs give people spiritual strengths that lead to healthy habits and build their social networks and gives them the ability to overcome obstacles in their lives,” Kao said. (Click here to read article.)
As faithful, it is also our duty to care for the holistic health and dignity of other members of the body of Christ. Our Collaborative does this through the interdisciplinary efforts of multiple ministries such as pastoral care, healthcare, and social justice.
Staying Fit by Putting Faith into Action
Our Pastoral Care ministry offers summer walking groups that begin and end with meditative prayer, children's read-aloud sessions with a registered therapy dog at the Lynnfield Public Library, and board game days and socials with assisted living/nursing care residents of the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center in Peabody. Several ministries and individuals organize coat drives, food drives, and toiletry item drives throughout the year to assist those in our extended community whose basic needs are not being met. Our Ministry to the Sick and Homebound volunteers make personal visits, bring the Eucharist, and pray with those who are unable to attend Mass or just need a little companionship. Our Ministry of Consolation and Grief Support meetings offer compassion and support to those who are grieving, no matter how recent or long ago the loss. We are led and encouraged by our Social Justice Ministry to embrace the Corporal Works of Mercy by reaching out to those locally and abroad in need of everything from rosaries for prisoners to water wells for African villagers. Parishioners from both SMG and OLA volunteer their time at My Brother's Table in Lynn, whose mission is to nourish the body, mind, and spirit “through hospitality, free meals, and unconditional love.” For the past several years, our Collaborative's annual Advent almsgiving campaign has raised funds to support the A Bed for Every Child/250 Beds for 250 Kids program of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. In 2018, our parishes and school raised $10,233.16, which translates to 41 kids getting a better night's sleep, doing better in school, and being healthier and more productive. We work closely with the Lynnfield Knights of Columbus and Lynnfield St. Vincent de Paul organizations who offer assistance to families in crisis and those in need of financial assistance for heating, rent, or a fresh start.
Substance Abuse and the Opioid Crisis
The opioid epidemic is making daily news headlines and is a common topic of coffee shop conversation, but we must never forget that it is a painful reality for many families and individuals, including those in our own parishes. Officials and organizations on the national, state, and local levels are frantically trying to assess and address this reality.
In response to this, Cardinal Seán O’Malley established an Opioid Addiction Task Force to identify and develop pastoral support programs for parishes and schools within the Archdiocese of Boston. The task force developed the Archdiocesan Addiction Recovery Pastoral Support Services (AARPSS), a ministry that collaborates with various agencies and organizations to assist parishes throughout the Archdiocese. AARPSS seeks to educate, prevent, and find treatment options for addiction.
The Town of Lynnfield is also committed to addressing the opioid crisis and has formed a substance abuse coalition called A Healthy Lynnfield. Business leaders, school officials, first-responders, health care professionals, civic group leaders, and clergy have also committed their support and active participation in this coalition. Our pastor, Father Paul Ritt, is also a member of the coalition.
In November 2017, our Collaborative hosted an ecumenical opioid candlelight vigil at St. Maria Goretti Church. Parish families, some who have suffered the loss of a loved one and others who have gratefully come out on the other side, shared their poignant stories. Young people, all of whom had known the pain of addiction, spoke of their journey, and all pointed to faith as their ultimate saving grace. People of all faiths, from all walks of life, of all different ages came together in the darkened church, and from the flickering light of a single Easter Candle, a wave of individual candles were lit as a sign of the power of One Great Light.
Our Collaborative is also a supporter of The Think Of Michael Foundation. Established by parishioners who tragically lost their son/brother to an opiate overdose in 2018, this non-profit provides sober housing scholarships to qualified individuals who demonstrate the willingness needed to sustain long-term sobriety.
Underscoring our continuing and long-term support of efforts for addiction recovery, we offer our Collaborative spaces for group meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous on Tuesdays at 7:30pm at SMG, and for Narcotics Anonymous on Tuesdays at 7:30pm at OLA.
Pro-life means to respect the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. It follows the conviction that all are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), that our times and places (Job 14:5) and even the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) are known to our Father, the creator.
Our ministries run a Baby Bottle Drive (in conjunction with the Lynnfield Knights of Columbus) to raise funds for Catholic Charities' pro-life programs, a "Baby Shower" which collects newborn baby necessities, and diaper coupon collections that are turned into donations of hundreds of diapers for needy families. Our OLA School students have participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. As part of the Archdiocesan observance of the National Day of Prayer and Penance marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion on demand, Deacon Tom O’Shea leads an annual Holy Hour for Life prayer service in January. Our Justice for Jesus social justice ministry has also started collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) to shine a light on the need for foster care volunteers and to support foster care families. Our Prayer Shawl Ministry crochets and knits blankets and shawls infused with prayers for anyone in need of a healing "hug from God", from a struggling premie newborn to a patient going through chemo, from a student heading off to college to a loved one in hospice care.