Papal trip to Scotland and England and Cardinal Newman’s beatification
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, just finished his apostolic visit to Scotland and England. As usual, the Holy Father courageously and lovingly preached the Gospel of Christ, and despite some angry protests, was received warmly and even enthusiastically by many, if not most, of the people. Time and time again, the pope defended the Church’s right to be heard in the public square. He emphasized the importance of religion in society and warned against the dehumanizing effects of radical secularism and atheism.
I was able to watch on television a few of the events of the papal trip, usually rebroadcasts late at night on EWTN. I saw the visit of the Holy Father to Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey in London, the first visit of a pope to those historic places. At Westminster Hall, where St. Thomas More was tried and sentenced to death, Pope Benedict spoke powerfully about the benefits of the Christian faith for the moral well-being of society. At Westminster Abbey, the burial place of St. Edward the Confessor, the Holy Father joined in the Anglican Vespers service where he spoke of the Church’s ecumenical commitment and the importance of fidelity to the apostolic faith.
The highlight of the apostolic visit was the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday, Sept. 19. Many know about Cardinal Newman because of Catholic campus ministry centers and organizations in colleges and universities throughout the United States. They are often called “Newman clubs” and “Newman centers,” after this great Anglican priest, convert to the Catholic faith. One of his many scholarly writings is the book (actually a collection of speeches) entitled “The Idea of a University.” Pope Benedict paid tribute to Cardinal Newman’s vision for education in his homily at the beatification Mass. He wrote that this vision “has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today. Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together… ‘The Idea of a University’ holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can learn.”
Cardinal Newman left an incredible intellectual and spiritual legacy. For spiritual nourishment, I have enjoyed reading what are called his “Parochial and Plain Sermons,” as well as his “Meditations and Devotions.” His “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” is a brilliant work, truly a classic in religious literature, which examines the historical continuity of the dogmas of the faith, as opposed to doctrinal corruptions. After writing this book, Newman, a well-known Anglican priest and scholar at Oxford University, was received into the Catholic Church.
If you have not read any works of Cardinal Newman, I recommend most especially his “Apologia pro Vita Sua,” an account of the ideas which led him in 1845 to leave the Church of England and enter the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Newman is now Blessed John Henry Newman. He was beatified not because of his intellectual achievements, but for his outstanding holiness. With his beatification, hopefully many more people will come to know his life and thought.
On Friday, Sept. 10, I celebrated Mass for the Serra Club of Fort Wayne in the chapel of Saint Joseph Hospital. Following the Mass, I joined the Serrans for lunch and blessed the new officers.
We are fortunate to have two Serra Clubs in our diocese, in Fort Wayne and in South Bend. This lay organization has an important mission: To foster, affirm and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The members of Serra do so through prayer, awareness, affirmation and support. I am deeply grateful for their support of vocations in our diocese. May the Lord bless their efforts in working for vocations!
Wedding anniversary celebrations
It was a special joy to celebrate our diocesan wedding anniversary Masses at our cathedrals in South Bend and Fort Wayne on Sundays, Sept. 12 and 19. Congratulations to all our couples celebrating silver and golden anniversaries this year! It was great to meet so many of you after the anniversary Masses. I repeat the words of gratitude I spoke at the Masses: “Through the years you have experienced joys and sorrows, accomplishments and challenges. Through them all, you have remained united in a covenant of love with your spouse, journeying together in a partnership of life, blessed by the Lord with the abundant grace of the sacrament of Marriage. For this, we thank the Lord today. And we thank you for your faithfulness to the vows you took years ago and for being an eloquent sign in the Church and in our society of the sacredness of Christian marriage, a sign so desperately needed in contemporary society. … Happy anniversary and may God bless you!”
Catholic-Mennonite day of reflection
On Saturday, Sept. 18, I presided at Morning Prayer at St. Matthew Cathedral for the Catholics and Mennonites who were gathered for a day of reflection. Afterwards, I shared some thoughts about Catholic teaching on ecumenism in response to a presentation on the Mennonite perspective on ecumenism.
The day of reflection was sponsored by Michiana Bridgefolk, a network of Catholics and Mennonites from Elkhart and St. Joseph counties who gather several times a year for conversation, dialogue and prayer. The group has focused particularly on studying and promoting peace.
I pray that our Catholic and Mennonite communities continue to grow in friendship and cooperation, together bearing witness to Christ’s love and His gift of peace!
On Saturday, Sept. 18, over 1,000 young people in our diocese who are preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation gathered for a retreat day at Grace College in Warsaw. I joined them at the end of the day for the celebration of Holy Mass.
It is always a blessing to be with our young people, to teach them and to pray with them. Their enthusiasm is contagious! I was particularly impressed at the Confirmation Rally Mass by the reverence and prayerfulness of the young people and by their active participation in the liturgy. Sometimes our young people are reluctant to sing, but at the Confirmation rally on Saturday, they were not reluctant at all! Thanks to all who are guiding, helping and teaching our young people in preparation for their Confirmation this spring.
Installation of new pastor at
St. Aloysius, Yoder
On Sunday, Sept. 19, I made my first visit to St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Yoder to install the new pastor, Msgr. Bernard Galic. This is another one of the beautiful country churches of our diocese. The former pastor, Father Dominique Carboneau, and the parishioners completed a beautiful restoration of the church just this summer.
Msgr. Galic also serves as our diocesan director of vocations. He had served for 24 years as pastor of Holy Family Parish in South Bend and recently celebrated his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination. The parishioners of St. Aloysius, with typical Indiana hospitality, have warmly welcomed Msgr. Galic as their new pastor. May the Lord continue to build up St. Aloysius Parish as a vibrant community of faith, hope, and charity!
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