May 11, 2010 // Uncategorized

It is good to remember the goodness of our mothers

Mother’s Day
I am writing this column on Mother’s Day, having returned from a Confirmation Mass at St. Michael Church in Plymouth. It is a sunny, yet chilly day. Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to all the mothers of our diocese! I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our spiritual mother, intercede for you with her maternal love! It is good to remember the goodness of our mothers and to thank them for their self-giving love. Today I remembered my own mother, to whom I am deeply grateful for the gift of my Catholic faith. She died in 1994. If I were home, I would have tried to visit my mom’s grave, but she told me before she died that it would be more important to her that I remember her in my prayers, especially at the altar of the Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At the Confirmation Mass in Plymouth and also last evening in Little Flower Parish, South Bend, we prayed for both our living and deceased mothers. Prayer is always an act of love. Praying for the living and the dead is a spiritual work of mercy.

On my way back to Fort Wayne today, I called my sister to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. I was happy to hear that my brother-in-law, my nephew and nieces spoiled her a bit today, treating her to dinner, a homemade DVD, flowers and candy. I am looking forward to seeing the family next month when I return home for my nephew’s high school graduation en route to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the spring assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop.

Indiana Catholic Conference
This past Tuesday, Bishop D’Arcy and I traveled together to Indianapolis for a meeting with the bishops of Indiana, dinner with the governor, and then a meeting of the Indiana Catholic Conference on Wednesday. The meetings went well. What I enjoyed most was the travel to and from Indianapolis with Bishop D’Arcy, since it gave us an opportunity to get caught up about the diocese and our ministries. I always appreciate Bishop D’Arcy’s wisdom and insights, as well as his enjoyable company. We always get along very well unless we talk about baseball!

Diocesan review board
On Wednesday evening, I had my first meeting with our Diocesan Review Board. This consultative body of lay people advises the bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry. It reviews our diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. I counted on the review board’s advice in the Diocese of Harrisburg and appreciated their expert counsel. I was greatly impressed by the members of the review board here in our diocese and am very grateful for their assistance. They help me and the diocese to ensure the protection of our children and young people and to promote the healing and reconciliation with victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors.

Directors and coordinators
of religious education

It was a pleasure to meet many of our devoted parish directors and coordinators of religious education at their conference in Syracuse this past Thursday. Our diocesan Office of Catechesis sponsored this day-long conference. Though I was there for only part of the day, I enjoyed hearing about the good programs of religious education throughout our diocese and listening to the DRE’s and CRE’s share their ideas and experiences. I shared with the group my own hopes for the future and a major concern of mine: The need for continuing the catechesis of our young people in public schools after they receive Confirmation.

I am saddened that many of our public high school youth do not receive further religious education after their Confirmation. Some do, through parish youth ministry programs or through high school religious education. I am afraid that most do not. I encourage all to reflect on this very important responsibility. The faith formation of our young people must not stop at the end of eighth grade! I encourage all of our public high school students to enroll in high school religious education and/or youth ministry. As I said to the DRE’s, the sacrament of Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation, not “termination.” There is so much more of the faith that our young people need to learn after they complete grade school. We would never even consider that their education in other subjects is complete with grade school graduation. And what subject is more important than the study of the faith?

Catholic Cultural Diversity Network Convocation
I was happy to attend the opening session of the Catholic Cultural Diversity Convocation this past Thursday at the University of Notre Dame. At that session, I was honored to introduce the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, to the national gathering.

This convocation brought together bishops and priests, academicians, diocesan and parish leaders, national experts, school leaders, ethnic pastoral leaders, publishers and national organization representatives. The gathering included representatives of six cultural/racial families, namely: African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, European-descent, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and refugees, migrants and travelers. It was beautiful to see the unity in diversity of our Catholic community in the United States, as represented at the convocation. The convocation, cosponsored by the USCCB and Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, was not only a celebration of the Church’s growing ethnic diversity. It sought also to foster a robust Catholic identity within this diversity and firmer bonds of communion among all the cultures, races and ethnicities of the Church in our country.

Holy Cross College
I was blessed to be invited to celebrate the baccalaureate Mass this past Friday for the graduating class of Holy Cross College. This was my first visit to Holy Cross. I was edified by the evident faith of the graduating seniors. It was a pleasure to meet these fine young men and women and their families, as well as to meet Holy Cross Brother Richard Gilman, the president of Holy Cross College, and many members of the faculty and administration. We are blessed by five Catholic institutions of higher education in our diocese. I look forward to getting to know the Holy Cross College community more intimately in the years ahead.

I learned that Holy Cross began as a junior college in 1966. It has since become a four-year college. When I drive along Michigan Avenue in South Bend, it seems like a mini-Vatican with all the Catholic institutions situated there: The University of Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, Saint Mary’s College and Saint Joseph’s High School!

This column would not be complete without my mentioning Confirmations. As I mentioned above, I celebrated Confirmation Masses this past weekend at Little Flower Church in South Bend and at St. Michael Church in Plymouth. The Confirmation at St. Michael’s also included the candidates from St. Patrick Parish, Walkerton. As always, it was a joy to confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit on these young people. The next four weeks on my calendar are filled with more Confirmations, baccalaureate Masses and graduations. I feel like I am running a marathon!

This coming week, it will be different for me to celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord on Sunday, rather than Thursday. In Pennsylvania, we observed this feast on Ascension Thursday as a holy day of obligation. Here in the Midwest, the feast has been transferred to Sunday. As we prepare to celebrate on Sunday the solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord, it is good to reflect on this glorious mystery of our faith. To learn about this mystery, I invite you to check out No. 659-664 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. May the Lord Jesus, who has preceded us into the Father’s glorious kingdom, bless you!

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