Category Archives: From the Pastor

A Special Christmas Thank You…

Christmas_Thank YouAs the beautiful season of Christmas draws to a close, I’d like to thank all of the many people who made the celebration of Advent and Christmas within our collaborative so inspiring.  The liturgies were uplifting and joyful thanks to our talented singers and musicians.  Many volunteers have beautified our churches and the staff has worked diligently in attending to all of the added logistics that the holidays bring.  The true Christmas spirit was alive in the extraordinary outreach to the needy through Christmas Wish and the Giving Tree.  Thanks to all of you who have given so selflessly!

There is always a certain sadness in bidding farewell to Christmas.  Our consolation is that the reality of Christmas is not just for a season but always.  Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us, in both our joys and our sorrows.  And, as this poem by Howard Thurman so beautifully expresses, we are called all year to carry on the work of Christmas as we see the face of Christ in those in need.

Christmas blessings,
Fr. Jim

The Work of Christmas

When the song of angels is stilled
when the star in the sky is gone
when the kings and the princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks, 
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost
to heal the broken
to feed the hungry
to release the prisoner
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.



Welcome to Our New Director Of Finance and Operations, Jackie Welham!

Dear Friends,

It is with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that I announce that Tricia Fraser, the Director of Finance and Operations for the St. John-St. Paul Collaborative, left her position as of July 1 to pursue a new and exciting opportunity. Tricia has been named Vice President of Finance at St. John Seminary in Brighton. I am most grateful to Tricia for her tireless dedication to the collaborative over the past three years in this important strategic role. Our gratitude, thoughts and prayers go with her as she embarks upon this new adventure.

I am at the same time delighted to announce that Jackie Welham is our new Director of Finance and Operations, effective August 6. Jackie comes to us with an impressive career in accounting and finance as well as a passionate dedication to the mission of the Church. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and with a MBA with a concentration in Accounting from Babson College. Her initial professional position was with Coopers & Lybrand (“C&L”), where she obtained her CPA credentials. While at C&L, she specialized in utilities and in not-for-profits. She left C&L in order to take a job at one of her audit clients, Phillips Academy, and then spent eight years at Harvard University. After leaving full time employment, she consulted at various institutions, including several Harvard University departments (e.g. Financial Administration, Risk Management and Audit Services, and the Harvard School of Public Health), Simmons College, and Bethany College.

Jackie is an active participant in her home collaborative of St. Anne-St. Catherine, located in Littleton and Westford. She has served on the St. Anne Finance Council for sixteen years and on the Parish Council (first St. Anne and then the Collaborative Parish Council) for four years. She is a lector and a Eucharistic Minister, and has recently joined the Ministry of Hope. When not working, she enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her husband, Tom, and children, Elizabeth and Tommy.

We are thrilled to welcome Jackie to this key position in our collaborative. She is looking forward to getting to know the St. John and St. Paul community. Let’s extend a warm welcome to Jackie as she begins her new position!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Jim

A Word of Thanks from Fr. Jim

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.
(2 Cor 1:3-4)

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have given such great support to my family and me as we grieve the loss of my father. I have truly been overwhelmed by your love and generosity. Thank you to all who sent cards and Mass offerings and all who have kept us in your prayers. Thank you to all who attended the wake and the funeral. Your presence was such a gift and healing balm at our time of loss. Thanks to the many choir members from St. Paul’s and St. John’s who joined with the choir of Good Shepherd in Wayland to provide heavenly music for the funeral liturgy. Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude.

It is one of my greatest privileges as a priest and pastor to walk with you in the joys and the sorrows of your lives. In these last few weeks, our roles have been reversed and I have discovered in new ways how blessed I am to be part of this community of faith. I will be forever grateful for your outreach to my family and me in our time of grief. In your prayers and support, we have experienced the embrace of our loving God.

With gratitude and love,

Fr. Jim

Renewing our Confirmation Program: A Focus on the Mass

In what we believe to be a movement of the Holy Spirit, the religious education professionals from both St. Paul’s and St. John’s have agreed on a common curriculum for Confirmation Preparation that will be centered on the students’ participation at Mass. To this end, beginning after Labor Day, the Sunday 5:00pm Mass will be a more deliberately youth focused liturgy and will rotate from week to week between St. John’s and St. Paul’s as the center of the Confirmation Program for our Collaborative.

On a couple of occasions during the past year, we experienced particularly vibrant and Spirit-filled liturgies in which all the Confirmation candidates participated and were actively involved in all aspects of the Mass. The Youth Music Group, made up of High School aged singers and instrumentalists from both parishes, was magnificent. The youth were lectors, Eucharistic Ministers and greeters. There was a contagious sense of excitement as the young people fully engaged in the liturgy. We are now building a program in which this will be a weekly occurrence! The Mass, supplemented with classroom work, will be at the center of preparation for Confirmation. Our hope is that this full, active participation in the liturgy, the source and summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed, will give our young people a lived connection to Christ Jesus and the community of the Church.

As always, all are welcome at these parish liturgies. The schedule and location of our Sunday 5:00pm Masses will be posted prominently on our websites and in the bulletin.

We are excited about this new initiative! Please join us in praying that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us as we seek opportunities to help our young people grow in faith.

Fr. Jim Laughlin

A Collaborative Update from Fr. Jim: Where Are We Going?

March 2018

My dear friends in Christ,

Tempus fugit, so the saying goes. It is hard for me to believe that it has been nearly two years since I became pastor of the two wonderful parishes of St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist.  I am so grateful for the warm reception I have received and continue to be inspired by your faith and commitment to living out your vocations as disciples of Jesus Christ.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on where we have been in the last year and a half and where we are going as a collaborative. A “collaborative” is a unique entity.  Our parishes remain distinct, with their own cultures, histories and traditions. The parishes also remain independent of each other financially. What do we share? Our collaborative has a shared leadership team, led by me as pastor along with Fr. Robert Blaney, our parochial vicar and a talented and dedicated group of professionals serving us in pastoral care, religious education, youth ministry, music and  administration. We are currently exploring how we can leverage the strengths of each parish to pursue ministries together.

The Collaborative Pastoral Council (CPC) is made up of five members each from our two parishes. The CPC is developing a vision of what our collaborative will look like in the coming years.  I know well from my experience in my parishes in Wayland that these things cannot be rushed.  So in this initial stage, we have sought opportunities for the people of our parishes simply to get to know each other. To that end, we have hosted two Collaborative Forums, one last June on the topic of Adult Faith Enrichment and the second last November on the subject of Christian Service. These topics were chosen because they represent natural areas for collaboration. On both occasions, we gathered close to one hundred parishioners with nearly equal representation from each parish. The excitement in the room was palpable as parishioners engaged on subjects central to the practice of our faith. They came to realize how much they have in common in their desire to live more fully their Catholic faith. Following from these experiences, we have seen a naturally evolving inter-parish participation. The Women’s Nights at St. John’s have attracted many women from St. Paul’s and is growing into a collaborative ministry. This year’s spectacular Christmas Concert at St. Paul’s boasted the highest attendance in recent memory with a large representation of St. John’s parishioners. There have been truly inspirational liturgies with  the combined musical talents of high school students from both parishes. As a result, the religious education and youth ministry staff have been exploring how we can work together in a collaborative effort to engage our young people more fully in the life of the Church.   We envision more collaborative social events and are planning a Mass followed by a barbecue at an outdoor venue this coming fall. Exciting things are happening.  The Holy Spirit is at work among us.

Beginning in September, the CPC, in consultation with staff and volunteer leadership, will engage in a formal process of developing a pastoral plan for the collaborative for the next several years. The parish forums have given parishioners an opportunity to give input on what is important  to them in areas essential to the practice of our faith. The data collected from the parish forums will provide some of the foundational material for the development of a pastoral plan. We want and need your input as the plan is developed and will continue to find ways to solicit that input. In the meantime, you can always feel free to speak to any CPC member to share your ideas or concerns. While the planning process is being undertaken, the many wonderful ministries within our parishes will continue to thrive. I am grateful to all those who serve our parishes with such dedication.

Where are we going as a collaborative? As we ask this question, let’s keep in mind the dialogue between Jesus and the apostle Thomas.

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14: 5-6)

As we explore paths of collaboration, may we never lose sight of our ultimate objective: to follow more closely the One who is the way and the truth and the life.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Reverend James J. Laughlin
St. John-St. Paul Catholic Collaborative

To save or print this letter, please click HERE.

A Lenten Message from Fr. Jim

At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. (Mark 1:12)

Which voices do we listen to?  The world is a noisy place and we are bombarded by voices telling us what to wear, what to buy, what to believe, what is beautiful.  During this holy season of Lent, we are invited to enter the desert with Jesus.  Here we will learn, like Jesus, to discern the voice of our loving God against the din of competing voices.  As we allow God’s voice to speak deep in our hearts, we discover ourselves as loved unconditionally, as beloved.  As we come to know ourselves as God’s beloved, we are more able to see the face of God in the needy around us and to become instruments of God’s love and mercy to those we encounter.

Pope Francis encourages us “to lose ourselves decisively on the path of Jesus, the path which leads to life…Let us enter into the desert without fear, because we are not alone; we are with Jesus, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.  In fact, as it was for Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit who guides us on the Lenten journey; that same Spirit descended upon Jesus and has been given to us in Baptism.  As we cross the Lenten ‘desert’, we fix our gaze toward Easter, which is Jesus’ definitive victory against evil, against sin and against death.”

We invite you to enter fully into this Lenten journey into the desert.  Take  advantage of the offerings of our collaborative for prayer and reflection, for service and for reconciliation.  Let’s listen together to the voice of God.

Fr. Jim


Thank You to Fr. MacKay and Welcome to Fr. Blaney

Fr. MacKayIt is with a mix of sadness and gratitude that we announce that our parochial vicar, Fr. Arthur MacKay, will be leaving us to take a new assignment beginning on June 1.  Cardinal Sean has asked Fr. Arthur to begin a new assignment as a hospital chaplain serving Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington and MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham.  With his gentle pastoral presence, deep faith and extensive medical background, Fr. Arthur will bring unique gifts to his new ministry.  For the past five years, Fr. Arthur has served the parishes of our collaborative with dedication, sensitivity and pastoral zeal.  We will miss him very much.  Our prayers and love go with him as he begins this new chapter in his priestly ministry.  A farewell event is being planned and will be announced soon.

Fr_Robert_BlaneyAlso on June 1, Fr. Robert Blaney will be beginning his ministry with us as the new parochial vicar for our collaborative.  Ordained in 2007, Fr. Blaney currently serves as parochial vicar of the Sacred Heart-Our Lady Help of Christians Collaborative in Newton.  Fr. Blaney is a very talented priest who is much beloved in his current parishes.  We welcome him with open arms and trust that you will give him the same loving support and encouragement that you so generously give to all of the priests who serve you.

New Collaborative Bulletin Format Begins February 11-12

Fr_JimBeginning next week (February 11-12), at the recommendation of the Collaborative Pastoral Council, the St. John-St. Paul Collaborative will issue one common bulletin. Each week, parishioners from both parishes will now see both collaborative news and news from each parish.  Please click HERE to read Fr. Jim’s letter about our new Collaborative Bulletin format.

A Message from Fr. Sepe

Fr. Kevin SepeMany parishioners have exclaimed “We hardly had the time to get to know each other!” Although our time was short together it has truly been an enriching experience for me. I consider myself blessed to have known and served each one of you.

I would like to offer my gratitude to each member of our collaborative staff. All have worked with a clear focus toward achieving the goals of Disciples in Mission over this past year. I would like to highlight Mr. Michael Dibbert Principal of Saint John School, a proven leader, fully committed to Catholic education.

We are blessed with our collaborative pastoral council, a diverse group of vibrant, dedicated and visionary members who are eager to begin work on our Collaborative Pastoral Plan. I am indebted to our parish finance councils, composed of multitalented professionals, for their candid and insightful guidance. In a particular way I would like to acknowledge the support and generous ministry of Fr. MacKay, Deacon Mott, Msgr. Lind, Fr. Connelly and Fr. Hehir. Their liturgical contribution to the collaborative allows us to continue to offer a robust Mass schedule.

I offer my best wishes to Sr. Evelyn as she transitions from more than 20 fruitful years of parish ministry to campus ministry at Emmanuel College. Sister’s last official day in the office will be May 18, after which she will enjoy a much deserved period of retreat and renewal on the coast of Maine.

Please keep Fr. MacKay, Fr. Laughlin and me in your prayers as we transition together as disciples in mission.

An Important Announcement from Fr. Sepe

Fr. Kevin SepeAs diocesan priests we serve at the discretion of our Bishop. The Cardinal has asked me to take on a new collaborative. Effective June 1, I will be the pastor of the newly formed Watertown Collaborative.

His eminence has named Fr. James Laughlin pastor of the St. John-St. Paul Collaborative. Fr. Laughlin currently serves as the pastor of Good Shepherd parish Wayland. Fr. Laughlin’s assignment will be effective July 1. Fr. Arthur MacKay will serve as administrator of our collaborative during this transition.

I ask you to keep me, and Fr. Laughlin and Fr. MacKay in your prayers as we transition in our assignments.

Thank you and God bless you.

Fr. Sepe