Reflecting on Five Years
On March 20, I published A Pastoral Letter: Reflections on Five Years – Continuing the Mission, with the intent of sharing over successive weeks, each of the ten points in my blog. The world presented, and will most likely continue to present, many other issues requiring our attention, so I appreciate your patience as we address these points as we can.
Today, I share the second activity from my letter which includes what has been done and ideas of what may come in Renewing and Revitalizing our Parishes. In this time of self-quarantine and isolation, many of the plans being considered or drafted in the Strategic Plan will have to wait; however, there is so much still the diocese can do for strengthening our parishes.
What a wonderful gift the Lord has provided us in social media, email, and technology allowing for priests, parish staff, and parishioners to stay in contact and connected. I’ve been amazed at the creativity of parishes to find ways to continue to support the desire of each of us to grow in our faith from online Masses, book clubs, and Zoom gatherings, just to name a few.
Someday, we will be together again, celebrating our sacraments and Liturgies; we all long for those days, as we know those moments are what make us truly Church. However, if we can take the lessons learned from this time apart, how much better we’ll be at reaching every member of our parishes. How, perhaps, the Lord may be using this very time of virtual church and faith sharing as a way of calling home many of our Catholic brothers and sisters who have fallen away. My letter speaks of moving from maintenance to mission; it is hard to spend any time online these days and not witness the beauty of so many on mission to keep the faithful connected and full of hope.
Consecration to Mary
At 3 p.m., on Friday, May 1st, the U.S. and Canadian Catholic Bishops will participate in a special prayer service seeking the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, for strength in the continuing struggle against COVID-19. A brief liturgy, including the consecration prayers, will be offered online and on Facebook, led by USCCB President, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. I will participate, alongside all of you, via a “watch party” on the Diocese of Fall River Facebook page.
The USCCB had this to say about the May 1st consecration,
“The consecration on May 1st. . . follows a similar action of the bishops’ conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) who consecrated their nations to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter Sunday. The renewal of consecration planned in this country for May 1st does not change the designation of Mary as the Patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Rather, this prayer reaffirms and renews previous Marian entrustments, and unites us in solidarity with our Holy Father, who recently established the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as a source of protection and strength.”
Easter Celebration Continues
Perhaps, even though the Easter season continues, many find it challenging and difficult to rejoice and be happy. Maybe you are still mourning the loss of the traditions of Mass and family gatherings for Easter. Today, let us remember Easter is really 50 days. We have plenty of time to experience the presence and power of the Risen Lord in our lives.
Easter reminds us to hope, and this Easter season, we all the more need to be reminded to hope. Jesus did not suffer and die to make us culturally Catholic. He died to make us true disciples, make us saints, to make us holy, to call us to change and conversion each day. My dear brothers and sisters, in this crisis, we are compelled to consider our fragility and vulnerability.
Have faith, knowing God will reverse the course of this crisis we are in, just as he did 2000 years ago to the plans of those who were crucifying Jesus. Easter is proof that good can come out of a crisis, from a horrible suffering or a difficult situation. Easter is here to help lift our spirits and provide the grace of endurance for all those anxious for this time to go by. We can use this time away from the sacraments to strengthen our faith and appreciation for the gift God offers in each of them.
Bishop da Cunha