August 7, 2012 // Bishop

Happy birthday, Bishop D’Arcy!

On behalf of all the faithful of our diocese, I extend to Bishop D’Arcy a very happy and blessed 80th birthday!

Bishop D’Arcy will be celebrating his 80th birthday on August 18th. How grateful we are to God that Bishop D’Arcy is in good health and continues to be very active in his priestly and episcopal ministry. Personally, I am deeply grateful to Bishop D’Arcy for his holy example and for his continuing zeal for the Lord and His Church.

Though retired from the governance of the diocese, Bishop D’Arcy continues to be generous in his ministry among us in so many ways. He travels throughout our diocese and beyond celebrating the Eucharist, Confirmation, and other sacraments. He continues to teach and preach the Gospel, to lead spiritual retreats and missions, and to serve whenever and wherever needed. One of the blessings I count as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend is having such an active and dedicated predecessor. Bishop D’Arcy is always so open and generous in helping me and our priests in our ministries.

In Bishop D’Arcy’s nearly 25 years as our diocesan bishop, he gave of himself tirelessly in building up the Body of Christ in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard. He continues to give of himself selflessly in serving the Lord. He is an example to me and our priests of what it means to be a shepherd after the heart of Christ. We rejoice with Bishop D’Arcy on the celebration of his 80th birthday. We thank the Lord for the gift of his eighty years and we pray that God will continue to bless him with strength and grace in the years to come.

Solemnity of the Assumption

I wish to remind everyone of the beautiful feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary this coming Wednesday, August 15th, a holyday of obligation. We celebrate with joy that Mary, because of her sinlessness, was taken up body and soul to heaven at the end of her earthly life. Her body was kept free from corruption. She participated uniquely in her Son’s Resurrection and was raised to heavenly glory with Him.

My home parish in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is named in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is popularly referred to as “Saint Mary’s.” I will be going home to celebrate Mass there on August 15th as the parish concludes a two-year celebration of its bicentennial. It’s been over three years since I was there.

In the 1740’s, there was a mission station for the Catholics in Lebanon County, most of whom were German and Irish immigrants, like so many of the parishes in our diocese. Jesuit missionary priests came to Lebanon to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments. In 1810, the cornerstone for a church in Lebanon was laid. The church was consecrated in 1812. Saint Mary’s School, where I attended, was opened in 1859. That first Saint Mary’s Church stood until 1876.

The cornerstone of the second church, built on the same site, was laid on August 15, 1876. It was a beautiful Gothic church. I received my first Holy Communion and Confirmation in that church. Sadly, it had to be torn down in 1971 since it had become unsafe due to deterioration. The third Saint Mary’s Church was then built, again on the same site. It was in this new church that I was ordained a priest in 1983 by Bishop William Keeler who later became the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore. He was also a native son of Saint Mary’s Parish in Lebanon. I also celebrated my mother’s funeral Mass in this church back in 1994. It holds many special memories for me. My Mom had a beautiful devotion to our Blessed Mother.

I am looking forward to celebrating Holy Mass at my home parish on its patronal feast day, 200 years since the first church was consecrated in honor of our Blessed Mother.

I will remember you in my prayers on this beautiful holy day. We think about how close Mary is to God. She is also very close to us as our spiritual mother. She listens to our prayers, knows our needs, and watches over us with her love. She is with us in the joys and sorrows of our life.

Pope Benedict XVI said the following: “After being taken up into heaven, Mary did not distance herself from us but continues to be even closer to us and her light shines on our lives and on the history of all humanity. Attracted by the heavenly brightness of the Mother of the Redeemer, let us turn with trust to the One who looks upon us and protects us from on high. We all need her help and comfort to face the trials and challenges of daily life; we need to feel that she is our mother and sister in the concrete situations of our lives. And so that we too may one day be able to share in her same destiny, let us imitate her now in her meek following of Christ and her generous service to the brethren. This is the only way to have a foretaste, already on our earthly pilgrimage, of the joy and peace which those who reach the immortal destination of Paradise live to the full.”

May Our Lady, who was assumed body and soul into heaven, assist us so that we may follow her into the Kingdom of her Son!

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