Energy, Enthusiasm, Hope In The Church Today
As a layperson in the Catholic Church, I often hear from my friends and acquaintances of the problems with the Church. We are continuously bombarded with negativity on television, in the newspapers, and yes, even in casual conversation. I’m sure that many of you hear the same kinds of things, and sometimes it becomes difficult (or tiring) to argue. The temptation to buy in to such thinking is always present, and sometimes we need a “booster shot” to remind ourselves of the good in the Church.
I received such a booster shot whenI participated in several of the Pro-Life activities in Washington, D.C. Archabbot Douglas and I traveled to Washington together to meet a very good friend and Seminary Alumnus, Msgr. Paul Lenz, a distinguished member of the Seminary Board of Regents, and a generous donor to Saint Vincent. After a lovely dinner, the three of us drove to the Basilica for Sunday evening Mass. As the Archabbot and Msgr. Lenz were concelebrating Mass, we parted ways at the Church doors so that I could find my “seat” amongst the crowd. As I made my way in around the throngs of high-school and college students in the Church, I found that not only were there no seats—there were few if any places to stand—and this was 45 minutes before the start of Mass!
I was awestruck by the energy and enthusiasm of the thousands of young people gathered to worship and pray together for a resolution to one of the most pressing issues we face in our country today. Upon finding a place (a small one) to stand, I anxiously awaited the start of the Liturgy. When the organ began to play, the priests began to process through the crowd. I don’t know exactly how many priests participated, but suffice it to say that Mass did not begin for another 30 minutes! It was again so inspiring to see so many clergy present to show their support for the Pro-Life issue. The Mass was beautiful as celebrated by Cardinal Justin Rigali, the head of the Pro-Life movement in the United States. His homily was powerful and moving.
As it turns out, Sunday evening was only the beginning. On Monday morning, I attended the Mass to begin the March for Life. Archbishop Donald Wuerl was the main celebrant, and he was joined by many priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals. This Mass took place at the Verizon Center, where an estimated 22,000 people, mostly high-school and college age, prayed together for the reversal of the Roe v. Wade judicical decision. Saint Vincent Seminary and College were well represented at this annual pilgrimage in Washington that day. It was a day to be proud to be Catholic.
In my job as Development Director, I am fortunate to be exposed to this type of enthusiasm each and every day. Those same seminarians who were singing and praying and marching for the cause of Pro-Life are here every day, studying and working to learn what it takes to become a priest in the Catholic Church today. This road is not an easy one, and the more I get to know the seminarians here, the more I respect their dedication and their spirituality. These inspiring young men have come to Saint Vincent from all walks of life, and indeed, from all over the globe. But despite their differences in nationality, age, ethnic background, etc.—they all have one thing in common—a special calling by God to serve the people of His Church. This calling is awesome. Their calling is a blessing for them and for us, the people of the Church. I am confident that the Church will grow stronger as these men are ordained and begin their service.
The Church is not perfect, but it does possess energy, enthusiasm and hope. The Church is responsible for so much good being done in many corners throughout the world. The Church will always be a shining beacon of hope and love, even in a world that does not always welcome its presence or recognize the importance of its values. Saint Vincent Seminary is doing its part to spread this message of hope and love. And our seminarians are living proof of its energy.
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