I am writing this column on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Though it has been a rainy day, it has been a good day to reflect on Our Lord’s messianic entrance into Jerusalem. At Mass this morning in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, I preached on the Passion and Death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in human history, reminding the congregation of Jesus’ command to love one another as He has loved us. Of course, that love is revealed most fully in Our Lord’s self-giving sacrifice on the cross. Throughout Holy Week, we reflect on the immense love of our Redeemer. We are reminded, as St. Paul wrote, that “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Rom 5:8.
Our calling, our common vocation, is to love as Jesus loved. This is how people are to know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, by our love for one another. This includes loving our enemies as well as our friends. And true love means sacrifice, especially for the poor and the needy, the sick and the suffering, the rejected and the outcasts. It includes love for our unborn brothers and sisters, for our immigrant brothers and sisters, for our Jewish and Muslim neighbors, indeed, for all people created in God’s image and likeness. We are called to imitate the One who vanquished hatred and death forever through love.
Holy Hour with priests
This past Tuesday, March 23, I was privileged to pray with the priests of our diocese during a Holy Hour of Eucharistic adoration at Sacred Heart Church in Warsaw. Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch together and a lively question-and-answer session. The more I get to know our priests, the more impressed I am by their dedication, joy and devotion in the service of the Lord and His Church. I am really looking forward to our Chrism Masses during which our priests will renew their commitment to priestly service. I will speaking at the Chrism Masses about one of my top priorities as your bishop, the promotion of the discernment of priestly vocations. Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in our diocese and throughout the world. I am convinced that God is indeed calling many of our young people to the priesthood and consecrated life. We all have a responsibility to promote these vocations. I think particularly of parents whom I encourage to inculcate in the home an atmosphere of faith and prayer and a love for the Church, the priesthood and the consecrated life. I am entrusting this special intention for vocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of priests and the example par excellence of consecration to the Lord.
Diocesan School Board
This past Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to meet for the first time with our Diocesan School Board. It was a fruitful meeting. As we looked at some of the challenges we are facing today, I was encouraged by the tremendous dedication of the school board members, just as I have been encouraged by so many people throughout our diocese who are committed to the mission of Catholic education.
Christ Child Society
On Wednesday, I celebrated Mass for the Christ Child Society of South Bend at St. Patrick’s Church. That was my first visit to that beautiful Gothic church in downtown South Bend. I thank the pastor, Father Leonard Chrobot, for hosting the Mass and for supporting the wonderful works of the Christ Child Society. It was good to see so many people at this Mass, a testament to the good works of the society. I had not been very familiar with the Christ Child Society until I came to this diocese. I admire its noble mission: “the personal service and clothing of all needy children and infants in the love and spirit of the Christ Child.” I am glad that we also have a chapter of the Christ Child Society in Fort Wayne. The foundress of the Christ Child Society, Mary Virginia Merrick, said, “In the spirit of the Christ Child, nothing is ever too much to do for a child.” Thank you, all the members of the Christ Child Society, for your loving care for needy children.
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
On Thursday, I was in Washington, D.C., for my first meeting of this committee of which I am Chair-elect. The mandate of our committee is to “assist the bishops … to respond to the faith needs of lay men and women, married couples and families, lay ecclesial ministers, and young people in our pluralistic and culturally diverse society. The committee assists the bishops to promote the evangelization and faith formation of these persons, leading them toward a deeper commitment to Christ and His Church in the world.” As you can imagine, this committee has many responsibilities. At our meeting on Thursday, we spent a good deal of time discussing the dissemination of the bishops’ recent pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” I highly encourage people to read this letter. It can be viewed on the USCCB Web site. At our meeting, among other matters, we also discussed the upcoming World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, in August 2011. I was organizing a large group of youth to attend when I was in Harrisburg. Now I am happy that our Youth and Young Adult Ministry offices are working hard here to organize a pilgrimage from our diocese. I am looking forward to leading our young people on this pilgrimage.
Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award
Speaking of youth, this past Friday, I was happy to present the Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award to an outstanding young college student, Danielle Collins, who is a junior at the University of Saint Francis. This award, created by St. Mary’s Church in Fort Wayne, honors individuals whose lives and activities exemplify the ideals and attributes for which Father O’Connor was known. It was a joy to meet Danielle, to learn about her deep Catholic faith, a faith that motivates her to serve the poor and the homeless. I was especially moved when I learned that Danielle, whose younger sister died at the age of four, participates actively in the Compassionate Friends organization for persons who have lost children or siblings and helps them in their grief. Thank you, Danielle, for your witness of faith and love!
On Saturday, I administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 150 young people at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Joseph parishes in Fort Wayne. This was like a little taste of Easter and Pentecost before Holy Week! It is always a joy to see God’s grace present and operative in this sacrament of initiation. I am really looking forward to the many Confirmation Masses throughout our diocese in the coming weeks.
Annual Bishop’s Appeal
I recently learned that the Annual Bishop’s Appeal this past year raised over $5.7 million, the highest in the history of the diocese. I thank Bishop D’Arcy and all of the donors to this important appeal which provides for so many of the ministries and services of the Church in our diocese. May the Lord bless you for your amazing generosity, especially during this time of economic troubles!
A blessed and happy Easter to all!
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.