Love flows at Bishop Clark's Mass of Thanksgiving - Catholic Courier
Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark celebrates the eucharist during a Mass in his honor Oct. 13 at Rochester's Sacred Heart Cathedral. Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark celebrates the eucharist during a Mass in his honor Oct. 13 at Rochester's Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Love flows at Bishop Clark’s Mass of Thanksgiving

ROCHESTER — God’s love endures forever.

That’s the motto Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark adopted upon becoming leader of the Diocese of Rochester in 1979. Based on sentiments expressed at Sacred Heart Cathedral Oct. 13, the affection between Bishop Clark and area Catholics seems equally enduring.

A nearly full cathedral honored Bishop Clark as he celebrated a 4 p.m. Mass of Thanksgiving that day. Near the liturgy’s conclusion, Father John Mulligan — a retired diocesan priest and one of Bishop Clark’s longtime vicars general — stoked strong emotion by addressing the subject of love.

"I want to thank you, bishop, for your wonderful leadership and for the beautiful charism of love you’ve shared with all of us," Father Mulligan said, touching off a long standing ovation. Father Mulligan then noted Bishop Clark’s motto before stating "And we want to assure you that our love endures forever as well." Another standing ovation ensued.

Moments later, the recently retired bishop was the recipient of even more applause as he processed down the center aisle. From there he moved to the narthex to exchange warm greetings with a long line of well-wishers extending back into the cathedral.

This liturgy marked the last of three public Masses of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop Clark; the others were Sept. 22 at St. Alphonsus Church in Auburn and Sept. 29 at St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads. In addition, Sacred Heart also was the site of a Sept. 16 a jubilee Mass attended by approximately 700 people and more than 100 clergy members, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

All four liturgies celebrated Bishop Clark’s 75th birthday this past July 15, the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination on Dec. 19 and his 33-plus years as Eighth Bishop of Rochester — a tenure that ceased when his resignation letter, required by church law upon turning 75, was accepted by the Vatican effective Sept. 21. Syracuse Bishop Robert J. Cunningham is serving as Rochester’s apostolic administrator until a new bishop is appointed.

Bishop Clark’s reign in Rochester is the second-longest of the eight bishops in diocesan history, with only pioneering Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid’s 41 years (1868-1909) lasting longer.

During his homily at the cathedral, Bishop Clark thanked the congregation for attending the Mass "in which so many large numbers come into play," referring to his age, years in the priesthood and time as Bishop of Rochester. "I haven’t even tried to add the numbers up; I think I would faint at the sight of the sum," he joked.

Bishop Clark emphasized that the Oct. 13 Mass was not just about him but was a celebration for all who participated, noting that "by definition Eucharist is thanksgiving." Citing cherished relationships as a prime example, he then encouraged those in attendance to "think of all the things for which you are profoundly grateful in your life just now." He also implored people to reflect on how they might grow closer to Christ and on any issues — such as addiction or fear — that might stand in their way, encouraging them to "name a place in our hearts that we would want God to touch most deeply."

Bishop Clark concluded his homily on an uplifting note, assuring the congregation that "what God has begun in us, God will one day bring to completion."

Tags: Bishop Matthew H. Clark
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