September 28, 2010 // Uncategorized

The Eucharist for priests is the heart of the day

Priests’ jubilee Mass
I am writing this column on Sept. 23, the feast of St. Pio of Pietelcina, popularly known as Padre Pio. At noon today, I celebrated the priests’ jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, together with our jubilarians and many other priests of our diocese. Many lay people were also in attendance to pray for our priests. Congratulations to the following jubilarians:
• 50 years: Father Lawrence Kramer and Father Patrick McNulty
• 40 years: Msgr. Bernard Galic, Father Richard Hire and Father Derrick Sneyd
• 25 years: Father Terry Fisher

It was a fitting day to celebrate the gift of the priesthood, the feast of a priest saint. In my homily, I spoke about Padre Pio and the lessons we can learn from him today. The pinnacle of Padre Pio’s apostolic activity was the celebration of the Holy Mass. The Eucharist is for us priests, as it was for Padre Pio, the heart of our day, the moment of our closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. Our life and ministry as priests finds its meaning in the Holy Eucharist since our vocation and our call to holiness as priests is intimately connected to our imitation of Christ in His total gift of self to the Church. Please pray for me and all our priests, that we may manifest the love of Christ, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

Saint Joseph Hospital, Fort Wayne
On Monday, Sept. 20, I had the pleasure of touring Saint Joseph Hospital after enjoying lunch with members of the hospital administration and board of directors. I am very grateful that this, the oldest hospital in Fort Wayne, continues in the tradition and values of its founders and original sponsors, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Saint Joseph’s Hospital, now part of Lutheran Health Network, is faithful to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I enjoyed the tour of the hospital and was particularly interested in the Saint Joseph Regional Burn Center. It is the only verified burn center in northeast Indiana. It is the only hospital in Indiana to offer a multi-person hyperbaric chamber that treats burns and wounds. Its highly specialized program combines sophisticated medical technology with medical care from the burn staff.

It was also interesting to visit the coronary care unit and the beautifully renovated Birthplace. It is truly a marvel to see the tiniest premature babies who are cared for in the NICU.

Mass at Howard Hall
On Tuesday, Sept. 21, after attending a Diocesan Finance Council meeting in Warsaw, I went to Notre Dame to celebrate Mass in Howard Hall, one of the women’s dormitories. Sister Lucille, OP, the rector of Howard Hall, had invited me many months ago to celebrate Mass and visit. It was the feast of St. Matthew, so I spoke to the students about the call of Matthew, the tax collector and sinner, turned saint and apostle.

It is truly edifying to see the faith of the students at Notre Dame. I enjoyed meeting many of the young women after Mass and learning from them about their experiences at the university. They all love Notre Dame. They are all seeking to grow in their faith. I have much hope for the future as I witness the faith and devotion of these young people.

Mass with the Sisters of the Holy Cross
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, I celebrated my second Mass at the chapel of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s College. During the summer, I had celebrated a Sunday Mass there. This time, it was a Mass just for the sisters and an opportunity to visit with many of the elderly and infirm Sisters of the Holy Cross. I love hearing about their lives of faithful service to the Church. The sisters were very excited about the upcoming canonization of Brother André Bessette.

I met four sisters over 100 years of age (two were 104!!). So many of the sisters radiated joy as they recalled their many and diverse apostolates through the years. I thanked them for their powerful ministry of prayer that bears so many good fruits for the Church today. I was also happy to meet the 15 novices who are in formation to become Sisters of the Holy Cross. These novices are from Asia, Latin America and Africa. I was also happy to meet several students from Saint Mary’s College who visit the elderly sisters regularly.

Forty Days for Life
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, I drove to the Women’s Pavilion, an abortion clinic in South Bend, to pray the rosary on the first day of the 40 Days for Life. As I waited in a line of traffic to enter the circle where we were gathering for prayer outside the clinic, I noticed that the cars ahead of me were going to the same place. It was a great turnout: About 1,000 people gathered with me on a weekday evening to pray the rosary for the protection of innocent human life and for an end to abortion.

This gathering was a powerful and prayerful witness to the Gospel of life! Catholics of all ages, priests, sisters, laity, were all united in a beautiful outpouring of love for God and the precious gift of human life. We implored our Blessed Mother to intercede for this great cause of life. We prayed for expectant mothers and fathers, for the unborn babies, for the conversion of those perpetrating the terrible evil of abortion, and for the protection of human life from conception to natural death. During these 40 days, let us continue to pray fervently for a new culture of life in our land.

October 3 is Respect Life Sunday. October is Respect Life Month and also the Month of the Holy Rosary. Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary, may we see an end to the killing of innocent people in our world, whether through abortion, euthanasia or neglect of their basic human needs. As Catholics, may we always have the courage to affirm and defend the sanctity of human life!

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