Diocesan employees respond to Obama's inaugural speech - Catholic Courier

Diocesan employees respond to Obama’s inaugural speech

GATES — Many local Catholics paused Jan. 20 to watch the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States.

Classes were temporarily suspended at several local Catholic schools so students could watch live television broadcasts of the event. Dozens of employees at the diocesan Pastoral Center took an early lunch break and gathered before noon in the building’s large conference room to watch Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. swear in the new president.

After Obama had taken the oath of office Roberts said, “Congratulations, Mr. President,” triggering a round of spontaneous applause from the diocesan employees. They then watched with rapt attention as Obama delivered his first address as president. He acknowledged the many challenges currently facing America, but pledged to help the nation overcome those challenges.

“They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” Obama said.

Obama’s message of hope reflected the way many Americans feel today, said Ruth Putnam Marchetti, justice-and-peace coordinator for Catholic Charities in Livingston, Wayne and the Finger Lakes counties.

“It just feels wonderful to be so inspired and hopeful right now,” she said.

Mercy Sister Janet Korn said watching the speech solidified her belief that Obama will try to accomplish what he’s promised. At the same time, he called on his fellow Americans to take some responsibility for the nation’s well-being, noted Sister Korn, social-justice awareness coordinator for diocesan Catholic Charities.

“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies,” Obama said.

The nation’s success depends upon its return to the values of honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity, loyalty and patriotism, he added.

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world,” he said.

“I think he called us to a challenge … to be all that we can be, to live faithfully and generously and honestly,” Sister Korn said.

“The clear challenge to all of us is that it needs to be something we are all to do, not just our leaders. I was hoping for that, and I was really glad he said it,” Putnam Marchetti remarked.

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