November 10, 2010 // Local

Diocese prays for deceased bishops, priests

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades prays for deceased bishops and priests in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Nov. 3.

By Tim Johnson

FORT WAYNE — The diocese remembered deceased bishops, priests and deacons at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Rhoades was joined by Bishop-emeritus John M. D’Arcy and several priests on Nov. 3, the memorial of St. Martin de Porres.

“We ask God, the eternal Shepherd, to grant to them the reward of their labors, the fullness of life promised to those who preach His holy Gospel,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily.

Two former co-rectors of the cathedral were remembered in memoriam: Msgr. J. William Lester, who died Feb. 20, and Msgr. James J. Wolf, who died Aug. 31. A Mass was offered for them Nov. 2 at the cathedral and celebrated by Bishop D’Arcy.

Bishop Rhoades recalled the words of Psalm 27, the responsorial psalm on Nov. 3, a psalm often prayed by priests, religious and some laity in the Liturgy of the Hours: “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple.”

He spoke of Jesus’ words about discipleship in the day’s Gospel from Luke 14, “Jesus wishes to teach us that our commitment to Him must always come first. Not even the sacredness of family ties and family loyalty should outweigh our commitment to Christ.

“We can think, for example, of those courageous Catholic converts who lost friends or were rejected by family because of their decision to follow Christ in the Catholic Church. We remember our deceased bishops and priests who left all to follow Christ. So when Jesus speaks of hating family members or hating oneself, He is stressing that we must prefer them or ourselves less than Him.”

Bishop Rhoades spoke of St. Martin de Porres as an example of radical discipleship: “He carried the cross of racial discrimination. Illegitimate and of mixed race, he suffered discrimination all his life. As a Dominican lay brother, he worked in the infirmary where he became every patient’s favorite nurse, because of his compassion and loving care. He not only cared for the sick Dominicans, but was active in caring for the sick throughout Lima. Besides nursing the sick, he helped the poor and distributed food to them. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage and took care of slaves brought to Peru from Africa. He lived a life of prayer and penance, charity and humility. The people gave him the name ‘Martin of Charity.’”

Bishop Rhoades spoke of how St. Martin was renowned for healing people and having other supernatural gifts. He served in the Dominican community for 48 years and died Nov. 3, 1639.

“Distinctions of class and race were forgotten at his funeral,” Bishop Rhoades said. “After his funeral, the viceroy of Peru, the archbishop of Mexico and other officials confounded the prejudices of their time. They humbly carried the body of this poor, illegitimate man of mixed race to his grave. They paid him the honor that belongs to those who are great in the kingdom of God.”

After Mass, Bishop Rhoades, Bishop D’Arcy and the celebrating priests processed to the crypt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where several diocesan bishops are buried. Special prayers were prayed there and the priests sang the “Salve Regina.”

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