A Treasury of Hope!
This past weekend started off rather sadly, but Jesus came through on Laetare – – rejoice! – – Sunday. Let me tell you about it.
On Friday I heard the shattering news flash about the execution by fanatics of four brave Missionaries of Charity, the order of sisters founded by soon-to-be saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta, at their home for abandoned elderly sick people (hardly any of them Christian) in Yemen. My grief was shared when I visited one of the four homes of the Missionaries of Charity here in the archdiocese for Mass on Saturday morning.
On Friday evening came the shock that two sisters, here at home, members of the Divine Compassion order, who have taught with love and effectiveness at Kennedy Catholic High School for decades, were in a head-on collision, taking the life of Sister Barbara Heil, and seriously injuring Sister Marie Murphy. I whispered assurances of the love and prayers of all of us to Sister Marie in ICU Sunday.
I was tempted to ask the Lord where the “rejoicing” was in these tragedies, but, thank God, found a treasury of hope, promise, and happiness on a visit Sunday morning to St. Ann Parish in Ossining.
First I had breakfast with about a hundred parish leaders in parish youth work, religious education at all levels, from two years of age through grandparents, the RCIA, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Food Pantry, Pope St. John XXIII Movement, CYO, an excellent staff coordinating this impressive array of ministries, and caring for an expansive parish plant, all under the loving shepherding of Father Edward Byrne, the pastor, assisted by Father Alberto Espinal and Father Allan Delima.
Then to one of the more reverent-yet-spirited Sunday Masses I’ve celebrated in a long time, in their beautiful church jammed to capacity, with an overflow crowd of over 1,000 in the gymnasium with a simultaneous Eucharist. The readings, prayers, and music – – led by two spirited choirs – – were in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Tagalog, the ethnic diversity of the parish on full display.
This parish, funded by courageous Italian immigrants ninety years ago, is one of the “pilot parishes” who asked to begin early the archdiocesan capital campaign Renew and Rebuild , to commence in all parishes officially next year. Mind you, the community is far from wealthy, but they are filled with enthusiasm as they sacrifice to reach their goal, which will allow them to fix-up, repair, and re-fit their large plant so it can continue to serve Jesus and His Church. They’re already on their way to success.
The atmosphere was charged with a sense of belonging and pride in the Church and their parish, as I spent happy moments after the Mass greeting these wonderful people.
As if all this was not enough, Father Byrne reminded the people – – who have already dug deep for the capital campaign and their regular Sunday offering – – that the Fourth Sunday of Lent was also the occasion to donate to Catholic Relief Services, the outreach of Catholics in America to the poor of the world.
The goodness of God’s people cannot be squashed, even by tragedy!
It was indeed a “Rejoice!” Sunday!
Thanks, St. Ann’s Parish, Ossining! I needed that!