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Christmas at the Paulist Center

December 4, 2020

Dear Friends on the Journey,

This year Christmas will be the same. Just everything around it will be different.

It was probably eight weeks ago when Peter Ghiloni, our Pastoral Minister of Liturgy and Music, started a conversation on “What are we going to do for Christmas?” Indeed.

Through many Staff, Pastoral Council, and Worship Team meetings, in addition to research among other Churches around the country and directives from the Archdiocese (if you’re curious, you can go to this link for the avalanche of guidelines), we have decided to make Christmas Celebrations at the Paulist Center all virtual. There will be no “in person” worship in our Chapel. (Here are the reasons. Since the decision, the spike in numbers of those infected in Massachusetts with Covid has only reinforced our decision.)

This year Christmas will be the same. What is the same? The affirmation that the Word, the Expression of Infinite love of our God for us, became flesh for us in Jesus Christ. And how grateful we are, how much we wish to celebrate the central declaration of our faith.

Just everything around it will be different. So this is my invitation, indeed my challenge to all of you.

First to all members of the Paulist Center Community:

  • Join us for the Advent-Christmas Concert (!) on Sunday, December 20th, 7-8pm.¹ This will be a compilation of selections from the 2017, 2018, and 2019 concerts. Cozy up with an eggnog or milk and cookies, and join in the singing. As enthusiastically as you sing when in chapel!
  • Join the Families’ Zoom Liturgy of the Word, Christmas, Friday, December 25th, 4-4:40pm.¹
  • Watch the recording of last year’s Christmas Pageant, Christmas, Friday, December 25th, 4:40-5pm. ¹
  • [Watch] No: Pray and Worship¹ with your community at our Virtual Christmas Eve Mass, Friday, December 25th, 5pm. On YouTube and Facebook platforms.
  • Lavish Zoom Gathering after Virtual Mass, via Zoom (you’ll have to switch Platforms). ¹ For about 45 Minutes we’ll “gather” to talk with one another, perhaps for a short time in small groups. Structure for this still a work in process!

Suggestions for Gathering for Worship on Christmas:

Your environment:

  • Maybe dress up for this sacred moment together!
  • Clear the table in front of your TV/computer.
  • Leave handheld and other devices in a room away from your House Church Chapel;
  • Place a small creche/Manger Scene nearby (or you can use a particularly beautiful Christmas Card you have received);
  • Light a candle, and perhaps one of you hold it during the singing of “Silent Night”;
  • A few bells to be rung during singing the Angels’ Hymn, the Gloria;
  • And sing your hearts out!

Second Group: For those who are not regular members of the Paulist Center Community: One very special dimension of Christmas at the Paulist Center is the more-than-occasional welcoming of those who have stopped going to Church. But they come to Christmas Mass because they love the person who said “it would mean a lot to me if you came with me to Church.” You know who they are. Rather than let them sit in the back room of your home while you [watch] pray with your community, tell them we are all better for their presence. We welcome them! Especially if they feel that the Catholic Church has not made room for them in the past, tell them there’s room here! And if those you love are not in the back room, but across the country, the silver lining in this most-different-of-all Christmases is that they can join you if you send them the links and tell them that you will be there and “it would mean so much to me if you would join us.”

Finally for those who cannot identify with Group One (regular members of the Paulist Center Community whom I have assumed are in family pods) or Group Two (those who accompany loved family members who do come to the Paulist Center), please join us. These are those who live alone, maybe outliving most of their relatives and now are alone, in an assisted-care facility, or who live and work alone in Boston (and elsewhere). I am aware that for some of you/them, joining in such a virtual gathering may feel empty indeed. But we are blessed by your presence. We Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in communion. And we believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in one another, whenever two or three are gathered in his name. Your virtual presence is our affirmation of Christ’s presence through and in you, because we gather in his name. Join us, please. “It would mean so much to us.”

More next week. What do you think?

¹ Link to come in December 18th Missive.

Advent at the Paulist Center…

At the recommendation and with the help of the Paulist Center’s Pastoral Council, here are some Advent Resources you may find helpful in your preparation for Christmas (a little different from last week’s). See this link.

Advent reflections led by local Paulist Father Tom Ryan “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” Tuesday, December 15th, 7-8pm. Here is the Zoom link

Our marvelous Family “Zoom Church Community” is celebrating Advent. See this link for how you can join them. NB that their Sunday Liturgy of the Word is open to everyone (see link below), but this link will tell you how to join them. All are welcome!

See how to contribute to Flowers for the sanctuary at Christmas. See below. We will be scrolling the names of those for whom the flowers are dedicated.

2020’s Virtual Jesse Tree

Every Advent at the Paulist Center, we host a Jesse Tree in our Mary Alcove. The Jesse Tree is a way of preparing for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. Jesse was the father of King David. The Jesse Tree is named from the scripture passage from the book of Isaiah. [Isaiah 11:1-10] Typically, community members take a symbol or tag off the tree to purchase a gift or gift card for the agencies and/or the individuals and families with whom they work (SS Francis & Therese Catholic Worker House, The Agape Community, and CrossRoads Family Shelter). This year we are hosting a virtual Jesse Tree. For sake of safety, we just cannot take in and deliver the amount of gifts we typically do each year. Instead we are asking that you send in or drop off a gift card if you feel so moved. Our agencies have identified the following gift cards that would benefit their work, individuals and/or families: MasterCard/Visa/Amex gift cards, Target, Star Market, Trader Joes, Dunkin Donuts, Amazon and Market Basket cards. Most popular are MasterCard/Visa/Amex because they offer people the flexibility to purchase in lots of different places. If you would like to support the Jesse Tree this year, you can drop off gifts at our front desk during the week from 10:30-4:30 or mail to:
Paulist Center
Attn: Jesse Tree
5 Park Street
Boston, MA 02108
If you have questions, please contact Susan Rutkowski at or 617-948-2426.

Worshiping In-Person at the Paulist Center Chapel
(imperative if you will be worshiping with us) …

We have re-entered our Paulist Center Chapel. Please reserve a place for either the 5pm Mass on Saturday or the 10am on Sunday.

How to reserve a place?

Call the Center (617.742.4460) Wednesday through noontime Friday during business hours (10am-5pm).  Sal, our receptionist, will take your name and contact information (either email or phone number. We need this information so that we can contact you should we become aware, after the liturgy, of a person with Covid who attended your Mass).

Again, please read the Procedures carefully and watch the video [both links below]).  Of special note:

  • The doors open 10 minutes before the service;
  • Please follow the directions of the hospitality ministers when entering, exiting, and at communion;
  • Once seated, please stay in that place;
  • Since there is no singing, we invite you to hum along with the songs.

1) Here are the expectations and requirements
2) A wonderful YouTube Video:


If you can assist with welcoming, seating, and directing people into and out of the Chapel, we would love to hear from you! If you are not in a vulnerable group with regard to COVID-19 and are willing and able to assist in this very important ministry, please contact Peter Ghiloni at

Linked In Prayer Opportunities with Your Community:

1) For the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6th, Live-Streamed Liturgy/Mass from the Chapel, at 10am (available as recording at same link after 11:15am):

2) Paulist Center Families Prayer Service, 10 am, Sunday
New Zoom meeting ID.  See the emailed weekly Missive from Fr. Mike McGarry for the link.

3)  Rosary Group: 7:30 pm, Monday.
Join Zoom Meeting at this link:
Meeting ID: 487 503 158
Passcode: 021078

4) All are welcome to a half-hour prayer gathering this week with/from the Paulist Center’s LGBTQ+ Group: next Wednesday, December 9th, 7pm,   All are welcome!
See the emailed weekly Missive from Fr. Mike McGarry for the link.


Spreading the Wealth:

Our “Community Gift” is our tradition of giving away 5% of our weekend offerings, averaged out over the whole year, to a group outside of ourselves.
This week, we lift up the Retired Sisters Fund. This is our opportunity to support the great women who, in a real sense, built the American Catholic Church. As you know, the majority of sisters in the United States are now of retirement age (although more than a few are engaged in very active ministries) and we take this opportunity to support them. Thank you!

As we prepare for Christmas, note that you may donate to help with expenses for decorating our Sanctuary. Go to #1 below and note the “Flowers” category.

We are so very grateful for your support during this time of uncertainly and financial peril. Here are two ways to give:

  1. To make a one-time or recurring donation using your bank account or credit card, click on the following link:
    Giving by text: Text 844-899-7511 with the amount you would like to donate (whole dollars only). Donations collected this way will be designated as part of the “Weekend Offering.”
  2. Giving by text: Text a whole dollar donation amount to 844-899-7511; this will be designated as your “Weekend Offering.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I conclude now with the Prophet Micah 6:8:

Our Faithful God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?

And let us pray for/with one another.
Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center

Along with Patty, Chuck, Susan, Peter, Dorothy, John, Barbara, Rob, Alvaro, and Sal. Please feel free to call upon your Pastoral Ministers if you wish.

I will be sending out something every Thursday or Friday as the “shut down” continues.