Bishop celebrates first official Mass in Auburn - Catholic Courier
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano (center) celebrated his first public Mass as Bishop of Rochester at St. Mary Church in Auburn Jan. 5. Concelebrants were Father Frank Lioi (left), St. Mary's pastor, and Father Daniel White. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano (center) celebrated his first public Mass as Bishop of Rochester at St. Mary Church in Auburn Jan. 5. Concelebrants were Father Frank Lioi (left), St. Mary's pastor, and Father Daniel White.

Bishop celebrates first official Mass in Auburn

AUBURN — Nearly 500 people packed the pews of St. Mary Church for Bishop Salvatore R. Matano’s first official Mass following his installation as the ninth Bishop of Rochester.

And the Jan. 5 Mass was a double blessing for Vivian Sinicropi of Clay. Sinicropi had not attended Mass at that church since the funeral of her husband, Frank, a month earlier. So she was "so touched" when she learned that Bishop Matano would be celebrating the Mass being said in memory of her husband.

Sinicropi and her daughter, Lori Campbell, presented the gifts to Bishop Matano, who had brief conversations with both women as they stood before the altar. Sinicropi said the bishop asked her husband’s name.

"Then, he said, ‘He’s having a wonderful time up there,’" Sinicropi remarked. "It was so beautiful."

And the focus of Bishop Matano’s homily on the Eucharist gives the diocese hope for the future, she added.

"That’s exactly what we needed to hear," Sinicropi said. "I’m hoping all the young people will really listen. I’d like to see all the generations coming back to the church."

Throughout his homily, Bishop Matano related the story of the Epiphany to the miracle of the Eucharist.

The story of the Magi, which Bishop Matano said is perhaps the best known part of the Christmas story, is one of faith and the manifestation of something that was hidden — God’s greatness and humility to appear before humankind as the Christ Child.

"Where can we find the miracle comparable to the Epiphany, since Christ will not be born again historically?" he asked. "Yet, there is an ongoing Epiphany which Christ himself has established. It is a miracle, the greatest miracle he performed. It is an Epiphany in which he again shows his greatness and his humility."

That miracle is the Eucharist, Bishop Matano said.

"He manifests his greatness as creator and redeemer by using his own power to assume this humble form so as to be accessible for all who come to him in faith, hope and love," he said. "This is now a cave at Bethlehem. We are now the Magi and the shepherds. And as truly as they beheld the Christ, so now do we. … The Epiphany we recall today is but a true foreshadowing of that great Epiphany of the holy Eucharist."

Because the Eucharist is so much more than an article of faith, pastoral leaders must strive to help the numerous people who do not understand its true meaning, Bishop Matano implored.

"The Eucharist means thanksgiving, a radical hopefulness by which we turn lovingly to God to thank him for everything he gives us, especially the body and blood of Christ," he explained. "Just imagine if we all lived with thankful hearts, if we all lived recognizing we are tabernacles for Jesus."

With such recognition, the world could rid itself of pessimism, anger, bitterness, pointless criticism, self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, even prejudice, the bishop explained.

"Imagine if we all lived in holy obedience to Christ within the life of his church," he said. "No more lies. No more rejection of what we truly believe in our Catholic faith."

Through the Eucharist, therefore, Catholics must live as the living church of Jesus Christ, Bishop Matano noted.

"In that host contains the whole Christ, the body and blood, soul and divinity," he said. "We carry within ourselves at every Mass, the Christ. … His light shines through us. And his mysterious, divine power works through us to attract others to himself, filling their hearts with prayers and wonder, as the hearts of the Magi were filled when they saw the rising star of Bethlehem."

Father Frank Lioi, St. Mary’s pastor, said the bishop’s homily was very pointed and focused on the great importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Catholic Church.

And he also brought great joy to the people of St. Mary’s by choosing their church for his first Mass, Father Lioi noted. At the closing of Mass, Mayor Michael Quill even presented the bishop with a key to the city.

"He made everyone feel very important," Father Lioi said of the bishop. "The church (of Rochester) is beyond the city of Rochester."

Bishop Matano joked that he had received such a warm welcome in Auburn that he wasn’t sure why he was making the trek back to Rochester, and the congregation responded with applause.

But in explaining at the start of Mass why he had chosen the Auburn parish for his first official Mass as bishop, Bishop Matano said, "Why not?" As he and several other parishioners and staff noted, many vocations have come out of Auburn and St. Mary in particular.

Choir director Joel Moorehouse said the church has produced 42 priests for the diocese.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Matano thanked the six altar servers and said perhaps one of them could be the next priest to come out of the church.

"It’s a great tribute that these fine young people are actively participating in Mass," he said.

One of the altar servers, Adam Birtwell of Auburn, said he welcomed the bishop’s message about the need to attract more people to the church, particularly youths. A sophomore at Auburn High School, Adam said he is trying to do his part by starting a Newman club at school with help from Dominic Marini, a seminarian who is spending his pastoral year at St. Mary.

"It is absolutely true that we need to engage the youth," he said. "We need more youth-friendly activities."

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