I am writing these words in my office late in the afternoon of June 2. It is uncommonly quiet just now. Most of the people who work here have headed home after the workday. I have a commitment in Geneva this evening, so I thought I would stay here and do some work until it is time to head east.
The occasion for the Geneva trip is the “Sharing the Light” dinner. This delightful annual event — tonight is the 10th, I believe — is sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes. It celebrates the work of the year, and honors persons whose lives and service to others embody the values that are at the heart of the Catholic Charities movement. This year, those honorees are Milly Bloomquist, Helen and Mike Simeone, and Joyce Sinicropi.
I love this event for three reasons:
1) It brings together a large group of people who are faithful and dedicated to the work of Catholic Charities.
2) The citations that are prepared to recognize the honorees remind me of how much can be achieved by people who are willing to answer the Lord’s call to serve others.
3) The responses of those honored inevitably provide much food for meditation; they are touched by a selfless sense of service and a wonderful humility.
The “Sharing the Light” event has a distinct tone and character that makes it very attractive to me. But one of the continuing joys of my ministry is that I am privileged to participate in events that nourish my spirit and make me aware of the wondrous ways in which the Holy Spirit continually renews the hearts of God’s holy people.
For example, Tuesday night at St. Michael, Penn Yan, I confirmed 48 candidates from the six communities that make up Our Lady of the Lakes Parish. Among them were many children who also were receiving their first Holy Communion. There also were some teens and young adults among the group.
I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to be with them. The tiny ones fill my heart with joy. Their innocence, their simplicity and openness are most touching. And the more mature ones communicate a real excitement — almost a sense of wonder — at what they experience in the rite. To me, they communicate a lively sense of God’s love for them and a deep happiness that they are so treasured. And, I do believe that they understand that lovely grace as coming to them through the love and care of their families, friends and the faith community.
As I write, I remember the obvious happiness and excitement of a brother and sister — he finishing high school, she in college — about their confirmation. Add a proud, beaming mother and her camera, and I think you have an idea of what I mean. There is just something very special and memorable happening in such events.
I conclude with the story of one more moment that made me aware of the renewing power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit. It came in a conversation I had this noon at a luncheon to which I was invited by our Pastoral Associates Association.
The conversation was with a woman who was among those serving the luncheon. She told me with great joy that her son, a soldier, was on leave from the war in Afghanistan. Her relief that he is home safe was evident to say the least. The year that he had spent there seemed like 100 years to her.
Increasing her joy is the fact that her son, upon his return, spoke to her about how his recent experience had renewed his sense of faith. In his own words, he indicated that what she had been trying to tell him all his life now made sense to him. I suspect that most mothers who read this will understand when I tell you that the woman had a great sense of relief not only because her son is home safe, but also because he seems to have found himself and a direction for his life.
It’s time to go to Geneva now. The drive will be yet another grace — an opportunity to think about all of the above and to thank God for their goodness, and what they have added to my life.
Peace to all.