With the feast of Pentecost, we have come to the end of the Easter season. For 50 days, we have celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus, the crowning truth of our Catholic faith. On Pentecost, the Apostles, gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem with the Blessed Virgin Mary, received the Holy Spirit. The new life derived from Christ in His resurrection was infused by the Holy Spirit into their souls. They became courageous witnesses to Christ’s resurrection and went forth, strengthened by the Spirit, to proclaim the Gospel to the world.
The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church and strengthens us to bear witness to the Lord Jesus in the world today. Since the day of Pentecost, the great family of the Church has borne witness to Christ, filled with that fire of love, which is bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of the Church’s evangelizing activity. The Holy Spirit helps all of us to live, spread and defend our faith. May the Holy Spirit enlighten and guide all of us as we strive to follow the Lord Jesus each day!
The Sacrament of Confirmation
During the past two weeks, I have celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation at the following churches: St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, St. Matthew Cathedral (for St. Monica, St. Bavo and St. Joseph parishes in Mishawaka), St. Vincent de Paul in Fort Wayne, Sacred Heart in Warsaw and Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne. Today, Pentecost Sunday, I confirmed adults at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In this beautiful sacrament, our candidates become more firmly united to Christ and to His Church.
I still have several Confirmation Masses to celebrate in the coming weeks. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit that our newly confirmed Catholics receive bear abundant fruit in the vineyard of the Lord!
This is a season not only of Confirmations, but also of graduations. Congratulations to all the graduates of our colleges, high schools and elementary schools!
On May 14, I had the joy of celebrating the baccalaureate Mass for the graduates of Saint Mary’s College. This was my first visit to Saint Mary’s and I am truly grateful for the warm welcome I received from President Carol Mooney and the administration and faculty of Saint Mary’s. The baccalaureate Mass at Saint Mary’s was beautiful. I told the graduates that each of them has received a call, a personal vocation, and has a unique part to play in God’s saving plan, in building up the Body of Christ, the Church, and in extending Christ’s Kingdom. I reflected on the words of Jesus in the Gospel that day: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” We prayed that the graduates would go forth to do the works of the Lord, to bear fruit that will endure.
After the Mass, I had the pleasure of meeting many of the Saint Mary’s graduates and their families, including several from our diocese and from the Diocese of Harrisburg. At a dinner reception, I met the co-valedictorians of the class, two very impressive young women, both from Kokomo, in the diocese of Lafayette: Carly O’Connor and Audrey Marrah. Carly will be continuing her education at the Pope John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. She hopes to serve in family life ministry in the Church. Audrey will be going to Guyana in South America to do mission work with the Mercy Volunteer Corps. How beautiful it is to see such young people using their talents in the service of the Church!
I also participated in the baccalaureate Mass and graduation at the University of Notre Dame that same weekend. Then, I shifted to our eighth-grade graduates, celebrating Mass for the graduates of 20 of our Catholic schools in the South Bend area at St. Matthew Cathedral on May 17. I remained in South Bend that evening for Catholic Schools’ Night at the Silver Hawks baseball game, where I stood on the pitcher’s mound in a light rain to throw out the first pitch. I got the ball over the plate, though the umpire, Msgr. Michael Heintz, was very generous in calling it a “strike!”
This coming week, I move onto our high school baccalaureate Masses. I am looking forward to praying with our graduates from Marian, Saint Joe’s and Bishop Luers High Schools. Bishop D’Arcy will be celebrating the baccalaureate Mass at Bishop Dwenger High School, the same night as the baccalaureate Mass at Saint Joseph’s.
Education for Ministry graduates
On May 11, I celebrated Evening Prayer at the St. Theodore Guérin Chapel with the 47 graduates of our Education for Ministry program. For two years, these devoted men and women have gathered for classes in theology, preparing to serve the Church in a variety of ministries throughout our diocese. It is certainly impressive to see the dedication of these generous men and women to service in the Church. Special thanks to Our Sunday Visitor for funding this important program!
I had my first gathering with the 11 men in formation for the permanent diaconate in our diocese on May 15. I celebrated Mass with them on that day in which they were gathered for a weekend retreat directed by Father Jim Schafer. Using the example of St. Isidore the Farmer, whose feast day it was, I spoke to our deacon candidates about prayer. St. Isidore, a simple, peasant farmer got up early every morning to attend Mass, and then prayed constantly throughout the day while working in the fields. Interestingly, his wife, Maria de la Cabeza, is also a saint. This married couple is a beautiful example for all of living an ordinary life with deep faith and fervent charity. They were also known for their generosity to the poor, though they were poor themselves.
I am looking forward to the ordination of these deacon candidates next May. Speaking of deacon ordinations, this past Saturday I returned to Harrisburg to ordain 23 men as permanent deacons. I was happy to be invited back (they are still waiting for a new bishop in Harrisburg) since I accepted these men into the diaconate program and had been a part of their formation the past four years.
Concordia Lutheran Seminary
On May 18, Bishop D’Arcy and I were guests of Dr. Dean Wenthe, president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, in Fort Wayne for a luncheon with him and some of the seminary faculty. We had a very enjoyable conversation about our ecumenical relationship and discussed ways for future collaboration and activities together. I was particularly happy to see our shared beliefs and common commitment in several areas of moral teaching, particularly regarding the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marriage as instituted by God. I look forward to a strong relationship with Concordia in the years ahead.
The Lord desires the unity of all Christians. May the Holy Spirit help us who believe to be one in heart and soul!
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