Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer
August 15, 2023 // Bishop

Bishop Celebrates Feast of St. Clare Mass with Seminarians

Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer

More than a dozen seminarians participated in Eucharistic Adoration followed by Mass celebrated with Bishop Rhoades on Friday, August 11, at St. Martin de Porres Church in Syracuse.

Bishop Rhoades told the seminarians that he was glad to be with them on the Feast of St. Clare’s memorial and welcomed the seminarians back from World Youth Day, the Institute of Priestly Formation, and other venues.

“Today the Church celebrates
St. Clare – a beautiful model of holiness and evangelical poverty,” he said.

He told the seminarians that like St. Clare, their own lives of prayer and the contemplative life helps them grow closer to Christ.

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades shared a little about his trip to Assisi and to the tomb of the Blessed Carlo Acutis and also his participating in the City of Assisi’s celebration on Thursday, June 22, the date of the Eucharistic Miracle of St. Clare’s turning away the army of Saracens who were going to attack the city by bringing out the ciborium containing the Eucharist. Every year they re-enact this event, which the bishop called “very moving” as we are in the midst of a Eucharistic Revival and shared that he asked the blessing of St. Clare and Blessed Carlo Acutis upon the revival.

Photos by Denise Federow
Bishop Kevin Rhoades celebrates Mass for the seminarians at St. Martin de Porres Church in Syracuse on Friday, August 11. Assisting with Mass is Deacon Oscar Duarte, Father Jonathan Norton, and Father Matt Coonan.

He also said, “Today we celebrate a beloved saint of the Church, St. Clare. It was on this day, August 11 in the year 1253, that Clare died. She was able to die in peace and joy because the day before, while on her deathbed, she and her sisters, the Poor Clares, received word that Pope Innocent IV approved their Rule of Life. Clare was able to leave this world in peace because the ideals she had lived and held so closely to her heart (especially radical poverty) had been accepted and ratified by the Church.”

“We prayed in the Collect that, through St. Clare’s intercession, we, following Christ in poverty of spirit, may merit to contemplate God one day in the heavenly Kingdom. There is a relationship between material poverty and poverty of spirit,” he said. “Without poverty of spirit, without humility, material poverty as an evangelical counsel loses its value and purpose. A proud Franciscan or proud Poor Clare is living a contradiction. At the same time, it seems to me that for us, diocesan priests who don’t embrace the radical poverty of St. Francis and St. Clare, it is very difficult to be poor in spirit if we have a lot of material things and do not try to live in simplicity of life.”

Bishop Rhoades continued, “When we are attached to our ‘things,’ material comforts and possessions, we tend to be less attached to God and less devoted to the things of God. Compare the amount of time spent on your computer or TV versus time in prayer, for example. To be good priests we must be ‘men of God’ and serve Him and not mammon. ‘You cannot serve both God and mammon’ Jesus said.”

Mason Bailey receives the Eucharist from Bishop Rhoades at the Mass held for seminarians on Friday, August 11, at St. Martin de Porres in Syracuse. Behind Bailey is Deacon Caleb Kruse.

“So, we must strive to be detached from material things so as to find in our hearts that God is our treasure. St. Clare knew and fixed in her heart that the Lord is God. Though she came from a wealthy, aristocratic family, she was not fascinated (like so many people were then and still are today) by money, material riches, or earthly delights. She was fascinated by Christ, the beauty of His Divine Person, and the beauty of His Gospel.”

“Similarly, you are following the call of the priesthood because of your fascination with Christ, your love for Him and your desire to serve Him. You have heard Jesus’ challenging call to discipleship, like St. Francis and St. Clare heard, the call to self-denial, to take up His cross. Whether one is called to the active or contemplative life, Our Lord’s strong words apply. ‘Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

Concluding his homily, Bishop Rhoades said, “If at times we find ourselves becoming too worldly or materialistic, it is good to remember Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel – ‘What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?’ It took a lot for Francis and Clare to leave behind their noble and wealthy families and for St. Francis in particular to leave behind his selfish pursuits of pleasure and earthly glory.”

“Think about what’s most difficult for you to leave behind – marriage and children? Money and possessions? Your autonomy? Celibacy, voluntary poverty, obedience? Then remember Our Lord’s promise – ‘Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

“Though not called to be medicants like Francis or cloistered contemplatives like Clare, we can learn from them and be inspired by them to take up Christ’s cross in our priestly vocation, to be detached from money and things and to have fixed in our hearts ‘that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.’”

Bishop Kevin Rhoades celebrates Mass with the seminarians at St. Martin de Porres Church in Syracuse on Friday, August 11. Pictured with Bishop Rhoades are (front row from left) Michael Hickey, Andy Barnes, Greenan Sullivan, Sam Martinez, Paul Cline, and Nicholas Monnin. Also pictured are (back row from left) John Paul Adizvo, John Hickey, Noah Isch, Mason Bailey, Stanley Amuchaka, Father Matt Coonan, Father Johnathan Norton, Deacon Oscar Duarte, Thomas Bundy, and Deacon Caleb Kruse.

Seminarians Share Thoughts

After Mass, a couple of seminarians shared their thoughts with Today’s Catholic. Greenan Sullivan, second year Theology, whose home parish is St. Anthony of Padua, South Bend, said he had a “fruitful summer at Institute of Priestly Formation – a nine-week program – and I was able to delve into my prayer life and relationship with God and strengthen that, especially with everyday circumstances of life.”

When asked what he was looking forward to most once he’s ordained as a priest he responded, “Sacramental ministry is up there, but also deepening my relationship with the Lord. When you’re a priest, you’re sustained by Him in everything you do so that’s going to be at the heart of the ministry, leading into other things.”

Sullivan was asked to share why someone should consider the priesthood and he simply said, “Because God is good. He’s calling young men to the priesthood, and He’s never stopped calling young men. The life is full of love and blessings and if you give God a chance, He’s going to reward you. As we heard in today’s Gospel, you’re only going to find life if you give it up for Him.”

Sullivan added, “This is the best vocation for finding life. If you’re looking for a good life, priesthood is up there.”

Mason Bailey’s home parish is Most Precious Blood in Fort Wayne and he said he’d be going into First Philosophy at St. Meinard’s in southern Indiana. He shared that he just completed a pastoral year – he was assigned to St. Pius X in Granger from July of 2022 until recently, learning from Monsignor Bill Schooler.

“He taught me a lot. It was wonderful being connected with the parish and seeing what the day-to-day work of what a priest’s life is like. I only knew what they did on weekends,” Bailey laughed. “I didn’t know what they did Monday through Friday. It’s full of love for the people of God. It’s been amazing to be there learning from his almost 50 years of priestly ministry.”

When asked what he was most looking forward to when he’s ordained as a priest, Bailey responded, “The Sacrament of Reconciliation. To be able to reconcile people with the Lord and for people to know of God’s mercy and take advantage of that sacrament that played a huge role in my discernment, so to be able to offer that for other people, especially young men, is huge.”

When asked why someone should consider the priesthood, Bailey said, “Because it’s a radical and beautiful life. I think that the priesthood fixes us to Christ in a profound way and what better thing to do than give Jesus to His people?”

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