FatherWilliam Coughlin has been a priest for 40 years. Firm in his desire tobe so from an early age, the former Haverhill resident has given hislife to the church and never doubted that was his calling. And after 16years at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, he said he hopes he can remainthere as long as he is physically able.
Oneof three Roman Catholic Churches in Wakefield, MBS has a membership of2,000 households and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. TheCatholic Church claims 65 million members in the United States and onebillion members worldwide.
For Coughlin, who wasalso pastor at St Joseph’s Church on Albion Street from 1970-’80, beingpart of the church is a question of one’s faith in Jesus.
Speakingin the dining room of the rectory on Grove Street, Coughlin said,"Jesus Christ is the center of human history and acts through thechurch by speaking to us in simple ways. Not by words, but in acts suchas putting people in our lives when we need them. He watches over andprotects us, and we make him part of our lives by the way we react tohim through prayer. Our God is not a distant God. He walked with us andhe is a friend to us all."
Massis held Monday through Friday at 7 a.m., Saturday at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.and four times on Sunday at 7:30, 9:30, 10:30 and noon, each withdifferent readings and homilies.
"We come not for ourselves but to celebrate Jesus Christ," Coughlin said.
Withregard to the statement regarding Islamic violence and the ensuingcontroversy begun by Pope Benedict, Coughlin said the Holy Father wastrying to insist on reciprocity. "Freedom in the west for Muslimsshould mean freedom in Muslim lands for Christians and Jews. He wastrying to open a dialogue and has not backed down from his statements.I fully support him."
Asfor the clergy sex abuse scandal, Coughlin says it has had a profoundeffect on the church. "People are angry and hurt and others are morecommitted," he said. "In part it’s helped us realize we need to go backto basic teachings."
Eventhough many parishes have closed, more have opened and merged. With agreat shortage of priests, Coughlin sees hope in the youngergeneration, especially those in their 20s and 30s yearning for faith.
Thereare no moves to alter the requirement for Catholic priests to take avow of celibacy, and Coughlin says his opinion will not change in thatregard. And while he doesn’t think women should be allowed to becomepriests, he is grateful for the role they have played in the modernchurch’s history. "We couldn’t do it without them," he said.
Ofthe priesthood, he says you can’t take it for granted and must alwaysbe in awe of it. "You don’t realize the power and responsibility youhave," he said. "People look up to and depend on you. It keeps youbusy, but it’s wonderful work."
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia