Easter renewal infuses many groups
Category: From the Bishop
You know well that in our faith tradition, the Easter season celebrates the gift of life. We renew our baptismal promises on the Easter feast, praying that we will be faithful to that Easter life in all we do. We pray frequently throughout the season that we will continually become more like Christ through our celebration of the sacraments.
So it is with particular joy that I gather with our parish communities during this special and blessed time of the year. For example, since I wrote last week, I had the privilege of celebrating first holy Communion and confirmation at Sacred Heart, our cathedral church. Over the weekend, I celebrated twice in Auburn. On Saturday night, I presided at a very beautiful first Communion at St. Hyacinth. The following noon, I joined the St. Alphonsus parish community as they celebrated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of their parish.
When I think of the three parishes I just named and remember those celebrations, I am reminded once again of a phenomenon that never ceases to fascinate me. That is the fact that our parishes, which share one Lord, one faith, one baptism can -- while always honoring these and other deep values -- nonetheless have such beautifully distinct personalities. I love to note as I go from place to place, that there is always something to learn in such visits, always a powerful witness of faith in such communities.
Not all recent liturgical celebrations were parish-based. On the Tuesday evening of our annual convocation, the priests of our diocese gathered -- once again at St. Alphonsus in Auburn -- to celebrate Eucharist together. It is in the context of that convocation liturgy that we renew our commitment to the priestly ministry we love so much. I find that always to be a moving experience, and that was doubly true this year. I think it may have been so because of the great pain our priests and our entire community have experienced in the last year.
But Easter signs of life are not limited to the public liturgies of the church. This morning, for example, I spent some time with a group of directors and staffs of retreat centers and houses of prayer from five dioceses in our country and Canada. The group included representatives from three treasures in our own diocese -- Mercy Prayer Center, the Sisters of St. Joseph Spirituality Center and Notre Dame Retreat House.
I was delighted to hear about the spiritual hunger people bring to them and how they try to help their guests grow in and through their spiritual journeys. What they spoke about only reaffirmed one of the strongest thematic points made by the speakers at our convocation -- that our younger generations, although they tend to be wary about organized religion, thirst for a deeper spirituality and seem to thrive with spiritual direction.
There are other Easter experiences with which the Lord favored me during these recent Easter days. I refer to one more, about which you will find other references in this edition of the Catholic Courier -- the signing this evening of a Solemn Document of Agreement of Understanding and Cooperation between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and the Council of Masajid of Rochester, New York.
It is my fond hope that this agreement, which is the fruit of already positive relationships and a good deal of hard work, will bring the Catholics and Muslims of the region to deeper levels of mutual respect and understanding. God knows, there has been no time in recent memory when we have needed it more. I ask you please to keep abreast of this exciting development. And please pray that God will bless what we did tonight.
Peace to all.