This Sunday, April 3rd, is Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the highlight of our Easter celebration. On this day, in particular, we focus our attention on the celebration of each Mass. Each Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act of filial love and devotion that we can offer our God, in particular, to give thanks for His boundless mercy that comes through the redemptive act by Jesus. This year, especially, we have as our focus the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a time set apart as an opportunity to seek the grace and mercy that only God can bestow on those who are in great need of it and are truly repentant of their past sins. This feast is the result of the efforts of a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, who, during several opportunities of fervent prayer, received the vision of Jesus who asked her to spread the knowledge of God’s mercy for His people.
This weekend, Bishop Herbert Bevard of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is our guest. Bishop Bevard and I have known each other since our seminary days — forty-nine years. Once again, he comes to make this appeal to support his efforts in his missionary diocese of eight parishes and one mission. They are spread over three islands with a total Catholic population of just over 30,000 faithful. Since his congregations cannot alone support the Church’s extensive works in that far-flung diocese, they count on our congregation and others to help the bishop best reach out to the people in ways that truly manifest the charity for which the Catholic Church is well-known throughout the world. Next week, then, we will take up a 2nd collection to help support Bishop Bevard’s diocese. I trust that you will be as generous as your means will allow you.
Next Sunday, we will welcome Bishop Barbarito as we celebrate our diamond jubilee: the 75th Anniversary of the founding of this parish. He will be the main celebrant of Mass at 11:30 a.m. This only real official celebration will mark the conclusion of a year-long jubilee of important parish events: church, school and festival. If you are a parish member, you may join us afterwards for a free “appreciation luncheon” that follows Mass (a free-will offering will be appreciated in order to lessen the cost of this meal). Our “surprise guest” speaker at the luncheon will be one of the real success stories of our parish.
Father Jay Haskin, our semi-retired priest-helper and dear friend from Vermont, has been pulled out of retirement (was he really even partially retired?) and is being asked to take on a very important role at his alma mater, the North American College in Rome. He has been appointed Director of Pastoral Formation there, and will be very involved in the spiritual and overall formation of its future priest-graduates. This is the school for the “cream of the crop” American seminarians, who are preparing to serve various U.S. dioceses. From among these future priests, there will be quite a few who will be future bishops and even cardinals to serve the needs of the church in the U.S. We will honor Father Jay with a “farewell” coffee and cake reception on Sunday, April 17th, at 12:30 p.m. in Kellaghan Hall. All are welcome!
I sincerely thank the volunteer members of our parish who helped create the many beautiful settings of our Holy Week services. Many of our guests commented on the beauty of the sacred music, which reminded them of the cathedral choirs up north from long-ago that inspired many people during Mass. I’m grateful to our guest priests who celebrated Mass for a total of over 4400 Easter weekend guests. I’m very grateful to Jay Flood and some of our maintenance crew; grateful to Deacon Rusty Skinner, his wife, Wanda and his daughters, who assisted in the decorating of the church and preparing our recently-professed Catholics into the Faith; and make a tip of the hat, too, to Mary Ann Grammatico and Ana Kenefick, who also helped in preparing the sanctuary of the church for the weekend celebrations. Our Life Teen group put on a splendid version of the Living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening. The way we conducted our liturgies and the time and effort spent to prepare the church for our annual observance of the holiest week of the Church year, hectic as it was, is indicative of the spirit that thrives in our parish. May it continue to grow through the efforts of so many wonderful and dedicated volunteers.