Living the Eucharist, Becoming a Beacon of Hope

Living the Eucharist, Becoming a Beacon of Hope

Living the Eucharist, Becoming a Beacon of Hope

Registered members of the parish recently received a brochure in the mail that highlights the good works that are going on throughout Our Lady of Hope – and beyond – into the greater Portland community. Through this brochure we seek to tell the story “by the numbers” and the ministries behind those numbers. These ministries extend our welcome, to have people feel a true sense of belonging.

We are inviting you to “Be with Us” – in prayer, service, financial support – building our parish community together.

Beyond sharing our story, this brochure is designed to invite you to prayerfully consider your participation in parish life. You might be able to serve in a ministry that:
– helps to reduce hunger (both physical and spiritual), feeding body and soul
– helps to build connection for people who are lonely or excluded so that they are less isolated
– helps to offer healing

Let us know how you’d like to be involved by mailing the “Be with Us” reply card or dropping it in the collection basket at Mass. If you’d like to give a gift online, you can do that through WeShare here.

Thank you for all you do!



Prayer and Conversation

Prayer and Conversation

Prayer and Conversation

Have you been considering refreshing your prayer life? Thinking about how nice it would be to be able to talk over insights? You’ll have the chance this fall. Our fellow parishioner, Cheryl Smith, is putting together an opportunity to pray with Sacred Scripture, developing a shared use of simple forms of prayers to deepen our experience and understanding of what Jesus is offering. And, over time, building a community that gathers together in prayer and conversation once or twice a month will be wonderful.

Cheryl is an experienced facilitator and prayer leader, most recently with the Sisters of St. Joseph.

In order to best get started, we need your help in determining the time of day for this in-person experience which will be held in the Parish Hall. For now, we’re aiming for once a month to get started.

Are there days and times listed here that would work for you?

  • Wednesday at 9:45 am (after Mass)
  • Wednesday at 2:00 pm
  • Friday at 9:45 am (after Mass)
  • Tuesday at 6:30 pm

If you would let us know by sending a message through the website contact form, which can be found here, we would appreciate it!

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Each year, Jesuits are expected to complete an eight-day retreat. This year, I completed a retreat offered by the Jesuit Anti-Racism Sodality (JARS) entitled “The God of Us All: Praying with Black Spirituality.” This retreat offered the participants “an opportunity to spend time in song, prayer, and community to experience the transformative nature of the Spirit moving through two deep traditions: Black Spirituality and Ignatian Spirituality.” These eight-days were a profoundly consoling time for me – I would say one of the most powerful eight day retreats I have ever completed.

Prayer Resources that Illustrate The Black Experience

Each day, we were given prayer resources that illustrated the Black experience. These resources included biographical material for seven witnesses, Toni Morrison, Sr. Thea Bowman, Mamie Till-Mobley & Emmett Till, James Baldwin, Fr. Augustus Tolton, Sr Mary Antona Ebo, F.S.M. and Bryan Stevenson. These witnesses are not in the order we encountered them on the retreat and I list Bryan Stevenson last because it was his witness that has stayed with me over the last month. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist, law professor, and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is the author of several books including “Just Mercy.” The specific witness that moved me particularly and provided my “take home” grace for the retreat was a sermon that Mr. Stevenson delivered at the Washington National Cathedral on the first Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016). The scripture passages that for this sermon were Micah 6:8 and 2 Cor 12. In this sermon, Mr. Stevenson outlines four things needed to do justice:

1. Get proximate to places of inequality
2. Change Narratives
3. Be Hopeful
4. Commit to doing uncomfortable things

Get proximate

Mr. Stevenson suggests that God calls us to get proximate to places of injustice or places that we have been taught to fear. Our proximity to these places has the potential to change us as we encounter the reality of those places. In my Jesuit formation I have been called to spend various amounts of time being proximate to the poor and to injustice – several months on the a poor neighborhood (now gentrified) in Boston and the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota as a novice; three years in the Bronx in my First Studies; the Anacostia section of Washigngton in my hospital training. Each of these encounters brought me face-to-face with my biases – the biases that were the root of my fear – and the reality of the good and faith-filled people who lived in those places that I would otherwise avoid. I notice that in each of these situations, I was assigned to those places – I did not choose to get proximate on my own. Mr. Stevenson’s challenge to me today is to find the places where God is calling me to get proximate to injustice.

Change the narrative

We can find power and witness when we get proximate to places of injustice, fear, neglect, or abuse and this power and witness allows us to move to the second thing: changing the narrative. My time on the reservation, in the Bronx, and with the poor in DC changed the narrative of fear and insecurity that I had about these places. While there might be much that was challenging and dangerous there, these were also places of love and community. The narratives that began to change for me on the retreat were narratives that I should feel guilt or shame for past beliefs – guilt and shame leave little space or energy for change. Rather, I discovered compassion for myself and others. The second narrative that changed was the narrative that suggested I had to “fix it.” Discovering compassion allowed me to find a proximate place to injustice and violence that allowed other narratives to be spoken – the narratives of those witnesses each day and the experiences of my fellow retreatants.

Get hopeful

In his sermon, Stevenson says, “Hope is what will get you to stand up when everyone else tells you to sit down; Hope will get you to speak when others tell you to be quiet.” When I told others I was going on an anti-racism retreat, I received many baffled looks; some expressions of fear. I know this – that having spent eight days listening to witnesses of the reality of racism in our world today left me hopeful. I feel hopeful that a long-look at the truth and a willingness to be changed will lead to change.

Commit to doing things that are uncomfortable

While I feel this hope, the retreat included many uncomfortable moments. These moments of discomfort included witnessing depictions of violence during slavery; the pictures of Emmitt Till and others following their lynchings; the treatment of other faith-filled people as they responded to God’s call but were treated as something less than human, like Fr. Augustus Tolton and Sister Mary Antona Ebo. The challenge that remains for me is where I am being called to be uncomfortable in Portland Maine – where are the places I am called to get proximate? To change narratives? To bring a hope filled presence for change?

I welcome others to join me in reflecting on these four things and the questions they bring up in you. Feel free to contact me at or by calling the parish offices (207) 797-7026.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

Affirming Respect for All Human Life

Affirming Respect for All Human Life

In 2018 the Society of Jesus in the US issued a statement which reiterated the Jesuits’ support for the unborn, calling abortion “part of the massive injustices in our society.”

“A spirit of callous disregard for life shows itself in direct assaults on human life such as abortion and capital punishment.  We also seek justice in ensuring that pregnant women and mothers have the resources they need to care for their children and live full lives.”

Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., says, “From the beginning, St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits for the promotion of the faith and the progress of souls in the teachings of Christ. As Jesuits, we continue this mission, to accompany the child in the womb and the community into which each one of us has been born. Jesuits and their colleagues must “find ever new and creative ways to bring the protection of the unborn and solidarity with mothers in difficult situations into whatever mission they serve.”

In 2022, the Society issued a similar statement when the Dobbs Decision overturning Roe v Wade was made public. “As we wrote in our 2018 pro-life statement Protecting the Least Among Us, “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life. Until men and women individually and collectively make a profound commitment to the value and dignity of all human life, we will never find the true peace, justice and reconciliation God desires for us.”

“We also affirm our belief that building what Saint John Paul II called a “culture of life” requires a stronger social safety net than our country has today. To be truly pro-life, we must support all women, expectant parents and their children by advocating for policies like universal health care, paid parental leave and a more equitable distribution of our country’s abundant resources.”

We approach this topic as pastors, scholars, social activists and educators. No part of our ministry is removed from the essential work of promoting and protecting the dignity of every child of God. We pray that the Lord might continue to inspire our efforts and to help us always see the face of Christ revealed in each person, both before their birth and after it.”

Protecting the Least Among Us: A Statement of the Society of Jesus in the United States

Pray for Peace in Sudan

Pray for Peace in Sudan

Pray for Peace in Sudan

The accelerated violence and armed conflict in Sudan since mid-April 2023 is causing immeasurable horrors for our sisters and brothers who are displaced, fleeing their homes or trapped. Please pray for an end to suffering and loss of life. The Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) teams are working with their colleagues at aid organizations in neighboring countries where refugees are fleeing to find ways to best meet immediate and long term needs. 

It’s heartbreaking. 

Praying is no small thing.  If you are searching for words beyond those in your heart, this prayer from JRS is a beautiful way to start. 

Thank you,

Social Justice and Peace Commission Members



Acute and Chronic Stress: Tools to get Relief

Acute and Chronic Stress: Tools to get Relief

Acute and Chronic Stress: Tools to get Relief

Imagine Yourself in this Situation

You are driving to Mass and the traffic light for Ocean Ave has turned green. As you turn onto Ocean Ave, from the corner of your eye you see a young girl riding her bike into the crosswalk. You slam on the brakes and barely avoid hitting her! Your heart is racing, and your hands are sweaty and shaking. Once you park in the St. Pius lot you think about what just happened and get angry at the young girl. However, as you start to recover a bit you now see this as a grace from God that allowed you to prevent a tragic accident. You have just been through a bout of acute stress.

Situational Stress and De-Stressing from it

Most species experience stress and also have systems for “de-stress” . Stress can be physical or emotional, but either type releases a chemical from your brain called acetylcholine, which in turn causes release of adrenaline from your adrenal glands (brain/body connection). This activates the fight/flight response of increased heart rate and increased blood flow. Acute stress in certain situations can be good, since it activates your immune system for fighting infections. However, in the above situation of avoiding hitting the young girl on her bike, we need a way to stop the stress response. The fastest way has been demonstrated to occur when you do a double inhale through your nose followed by a vigorous exhale through pursed lips. Repeating this 4-5 times should bring your stress under control by causing the release of serotonin which induces a feeling of calmness.

Chronic Stress is Different

Chronic stress is a more serious problem. It can last for months or even years. This type of stress has been linked to depression, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and the development of certain types of cancer.

A lack of social connections, not virtual, but in person, stimulates chronic stress and reinforces its longevity. The major instigator is the release of cortisol, a steroid hormone. Bringing chronic stress under control is a more difficult proposition. One route is to try some natural compounds. My sources for this column are listed at the end so you can get more information if you wish. (It’s always a good idea to check with your health care provider to avoid anything that could be counterproductive to any other treatment.)

Another approach for chronic stress is trying meditation and self-awareness. If you are unaware of the thoughts from your mind, they will own you! You cannot stop these negative thoughts so just notice them and move on. This is called self-awareness and the more you practice this type of meditation the better you get. You can ask God and Jesus to help you in this practice. At the end of your day think about the most vivid negative emotion you had that day. Say what you thought out loud and analyze your feelings. Then say: “I am alive and well. I will not waste my time on this thought. Tomorrow I will show love to other people in the name of Jesus”.

Thanks to Dick Niles, one of our leaders for RCIA and Emeritus Professor and former Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences at the Joan C Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University. The intent of these columns is to provide information about how to improve your life by addressing physical and spiritual situations that might be impeding your peace, happiness and sense of fulfillment. Also, there will be useful tips on achieving academic success for undergrads and grad students at our local Universities.


1. Huberman Lab podcast, March 8, 2021 “Master Stress: Tools for Managing Stress and Anxiety”

2. On Purpose-Jay Shetty podcast, Oct 23, 2020 “Techniques to Cope with Anxiety and Feel More Centered throughout Your Day

3. How to Build a Happy Life Oct 5, 2021 Arthur Brooks “How to be Self-Aware” podcast the neuroscience of emotional management.

Skip to content