St. Francis Parish Wants You to Be a Light on the Hill
Jul 14, 2017 05:54AM
● By Marlene G-C
A parish is a community of believers and a spiritual family that is supportive and loving. It can be a place to grow spiritually, to put your faith in action, and to use your gifts of time and talent as Disciples of Christ.
That’s what the folks at St. Francis Parish in Dracut would like you to know.
The St. Francis Parish mission, according to the Parish Pastoral Council, is to faithfully fulfill the teachings of Jesus Christ. The mission statement reads: “Centered in the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist and the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, we strive to create an atmosphere of spiritual development. By reaching out and welcoming others, our faith community continues to provide dignity and improve the quality of life for all those we serve.”
They believe there is a common thread that binds all Catholics together. “Catholics belong to a Christ-centered faith community that views Jesus Christ as the foundation. Catholics share Jesus’ vision and model their lives after Jesus’ example of love. (There is a more detailed list of basics beliefs on their website.)”
"What makes this church so special are the people who come to pray, receive the sacraments and to socialize,” said Parishioner Brian Conroy. “The people whom I meet are not only my brothers and sisters in Christ, but they have become my closest friends."
Before St. Francis became a parish in 1963, there was a close-knit farming community who worshiped at St. Michael Church in Lowell. Like many other churchgoers of that day -- where jumping into a car was not an option -- they often found it difficult to travel to the church building in another town for worship. As a result, in 1939 priests from St. Michael began offering Mass each Sunday at Dracut’s Kenwood School while the community joined together and raised funds to build its own church in East Dracut. Over the years, the neighborhood grew, masses and religious education moved to a portable schoolhouse, and then land was donated by a local farmer. With fundraising and help from local volunteers, the first St. Francis Church building (known as St. Dominic’s Hall) was built in 1950. The community and congregation grew over the few decades, and a bigger church was built and dedicated in 1996. In February of 2013, St. Francis celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
"Here I have a feeling of peace and tranquility like nowhere else,” said Fran deMontigny a parishioner and the parish historian. “I am also blessed with many friendships at St. Francis which have been nourished over the years. St. Francis is a vibrant community that excels in helping anyone in need of anything."
If you are new or returning to St. Francis, the church would like you to know that they are happy to help. About 800 people total attend the five masses that are offered there. Catholics who are new to St. Francis are welcomed into the Catholic Church with no formal process. Non-Catholics who wish to convert to the faith go through a process of education, faith sharing, and rituals known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This process includes several stages marked by prayer, study, and discussion.
St. Francis offers many activities for the youth of the parish. The young adult ministry is open to those aged 18-30 who are interested in expending and deepening their faith while having fun. A special children’s liturgy is offered weekly where the service consists of lively songs and readings geared to their level of understanding. There are monthly Family Faith Formation programs (formerly called Religious Education) that promote the spiritual and social growth of the parish community, emphasizing the role of parents as primary teachers of the faith. There are also many opportunities for the youth to serve the church and the community, as altar servers, volunteers camp counselors, or mission trip members.
In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the church’s patron saint who devoted his ministry to caring for the poor, they at St. Francis of Assisi Parish have found numerous ways to make a difference to others -– putting their "faith to work" within the parish boundaries and far beyond.
There are mission trips, bible studies, movie nights, women and men’s fellowship groups, weekly anointing of the sick, contemplative prayer nights, and parent and grandparent support groups. There is also a Prayer Line, which is comprised of people who devote a part of their day at home or at church praying for others.
In addition, there are many community outreach opportunities. Since the church sits on former farmland, there is a gardening ministry which ensures that local people in need receive fresh produce at the Food Bank. Some parishioners have spent a Friday night sewing fleece hats for the homeless in Lowell. On Saturdays, their homeless ministry group prepares sandwiches and soup in the parish kitchen. The food is then loaded into a truck and delivered, along with warm socks, blankets and those fleece hats, to the homeless in Lowell.
There are both ongoing and seasonal donation programs. Collection bins line one of the halls, ready for donations of food and clothing for various local charities. The church’s women’s group recently collected items, packed, and provided “100 bags of summer sunshine” to the Dracut Food Pantry. The bags contained donations of sunscreen, bug spray, chalk, bubbles, hats, flip flops, and other summer staples.
"Saint Francis Parish has been a big part of the Dracut Food Pantry since the original founding committee was formed,” noted Kevin Wilett, a member of the Pantry’s Board of Directors. “The 80-100 families we service each month benefit vastly from our great partnership with Saint Francis Parish and for that we are thankful."
"All are welcome to be a light on the hill with us. There are many ways to live out your faith at St. Francis Parish, including through prayer, faith, social, service to those in need and sharing your talent," said Debbie Hovanasian, Parish Staff. "You will be warmly welcomed here, and like many of us, you'll quickly become part of a family that strengthens your faith in God and builds you up through prayer and friendship."
St. Francis Parish
Archdiocese of Boston
PO Box 609
115 Wheeler Rd.
Dracut, MA 01826
Phone: (978) 452-6611
Fax: (978) 452-0772
Family Faith Formation Office (978) 453-4460
Saturday 4 pm
Sunday 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 11:30 am, 5pm Life Teen
Daily (Mon-Sat) 9:00 am
NOTE: Masses through the summer are 4pm Sat., 8am, 10am and 11:30 am (there is no Sunday evening Mass in the summer) -- in Sept. we will institute a 7pm Mass instead of 5pm