Priest emphasizes Marian devotion - Catholic Courier

Priest emphasizes Marian devotion

Since the Virgin Mary is known first and foremost as a mother, it’s natural to think of her as an adult. Yet Father William Coffas pointed out that the defining moments of Mary’s life occurred well before adulthood.

“We forget Mary was 14 when she was asked to bring God into the world,” said Father Coffas, parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in the Tioga County area. “At the Annunciation she was a very young girl. With God’s help, look what she was able to do. More importantly, look what God was able to do with her.”

Father Coffas added that these crucial events during Mary’s teen years make her a great example for Catholic youths.

“Today young people are looking for models of the Christian life in terms of following the message of Christ. We find a wonderful model in the life of Mary,” he said. “Mary is a companion, a guide for us — particularly for young people who ask ‘what does God want of me, what does God expect of me, what do I do with my life?’ With God’s help we can do great and awesome things.”

Father Coffas was involved in several Marian-related parish events during early May, two of which emphasized youth involvement. On May 4, he presided at a teaching Mass for religious-education students at St. Margaret Mary Church in Apalachin. That liturgy — the latest in a series through which Father Coffas has explained the different parts of a Mass — was followed by a traditional May Crowning. Participants processed out of the church, whereupon youths crowned a statue of Mary.

Four days later Father Coffas took part in a Mass at St. Patrick Church in Owego, in which students from St. Patrick School did another May Crowning.

“The students did a wonderful job. Each came up and did one bead of the rosary, and after the rosary they crowned the statue of Mary in the church. They were all dressed up in their finest. It was really a beautiful evening of prayer and celebration of community,” he remarked.

In addition, Father Coffas served as speaker for a Living Rosary and May Crowning on May 2 at St. James Church in Waverly. The event was sponsored by the church’s Altar and Rosary Society.

The Marian events at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick are among many that have taken place at churches in the Southern Tier during May, a month dedicated to honoring Mary. According to Father Coffas, this focus on the Blessed Mother “reminds us that God chooses all of us, young and old, and asks us to bring the message of the Gospel to those who need to hear it.”

During the service in Waverly he recounted the wedding feast at Cana, and Mary’s instruction to other guests to do whatever Jesus told them.

“The challenge of the Christian life to follow Jesus — we see in Mary a perfect example of living that message, how she was faithful in what God called her to do,” he said.

Speaking of being called, Father Coffas is heading to a new priestly assignment in late June. He will move to the Finger Lakes area, where he will be parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva (St. Stephen and St. Francis de Sales churches) as well as sacramental minister at St. Patrick Church in Seneca Falls and St. Mary in Waterloo with additional duties as Catholic chaplain at Hobart and William Smith colleges.

Father Coffas has served for nearly three years at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick following his ordination to the diocesan priesthood in June 2004. He said he has enjoyed many positive experiences at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick, and is particularly encouraged by parishioners’ efforts to become a cohesive unit of six churches. He noted that for the May 2 gathering in Waverly, a group of 10 parishioners from St. Patrick in Owego attended.

“That was huge,” he said. “This is something that the whole diocese is wrestling with — how are we going to join these (neighboring churches) for prayer? For me it was a wonderful sign of unity, a great sign of hope.”

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