St. Francis of Assisi, Auburn, was the scene this morning of the Mass of Christian Burial for Father John Nacca who served the people of that parish for nearly 40 of his 66 years of priesthood.
On the drive home, I thought and prayed about the great impact that Father Nacca’s life and ministry had on the people of the parish and the Auburn community. He had not lived in Auburn since his retirement from active ministry over 20 years ago. He spent several years doing ministry in north Florida and lived his final years at St. Ann’s Community in Rochester.
Notwithstanding Father Nacca’s long absence, the people of the area turned out in great numbers to pray for him and his family — and to tell the stories of the wonderful ways in which he helped them develop as human persons and people of faith.
As God’s providence would have it, we celebrated Father’s funeral Mass three days after the parish gathered to celebrate an especially festive liturgy commemorating the 100th anniversary of the parish. At that gathering, we were all aware of Father Nacca’s death. I admired how the people, grieving though they were, celebrated the anniversary in joyful spirit. They knew that their friend enjoyed long years here with us and now was called to fullness of life.
There was another very joyful event on the east side of our diocese on the same day as St. Francis’ 100th anniversary. That was the dedication of the new church built by the people of All Saints Parish in Lansing.
I love the rite for the dedication of a church for many reasons: It is rich in symbolism, and people come to the rite with a lively desire to celebrate the formal beginning of a place of worship for the construction of which they had made many sacrifices.
As is always the case, the celebrating community manifests its personality in celebration of the rite. For one example, it is clear that All Saints pays a good deal of attention to their young. The children are involved in the liturgy in appropriate ways. I loved the children who sang “Simple Gifts” as the altar table was being prepared. An impressive reminder of All Saints’ ecumenical commitment was the presence in the choir that day of some choir members from neighboring Protestant churches. And, there is no doubt that the parish places great emphasis on participation in liturgical celebrations. One wonderful sign of that is that the congregation sings beautifully.
I thank Father Scott Kubinski, pastor, and all of the lay leaders of the parish for all they did to bring this project to completion.
One other marvelous achievement: the completion and dedication of the Father Albert Bartlett, SJ, Student Life Center at McQuaid Jesuit High School. I joined the administration, faculty and benefactors for liturgy in the school chapel after which we blessed the spacious new facility. It will be a great asset to the school. It will provide great space for the sports and a variety of other activities.
I offer my sincere gratitude to all who worked so hard to promote the growth and development of the great boys at McQuaid.
There is a lot of life out there and many good things happening — because people are generous and faithful, and they want what is best for our young.
Peace to all.