June 15, 2011| The Long Island Catholic Vol. 50, No. 11 | BISHOP WILLIAM MURPHY
Gratitude is the word that keeps coming to me as I reflect on Sunday’s Pentecost celebration at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington. Some 3,000 persons gathered from every corner of the diocese and from a large majority of our parishes, apostolic agencies and dedicated lay organizations that make up a Church that is, as Sister of St. Joseph Joan de Lourdes Leonard wrote in her history of our young diocese, a Church that is “richly blessed.”
That was manifest on this overcast Sunday afternoon in June. From 2 p.m. on, people streamed ( and cars were jammed on the streets) to the new sports center at St. Anthony’s to celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit which have made ours such a vibrant Church, such a blessed people. Greeting the people in the foyer, I was uplifted by their spirits. One and all were so happy to be there, to be together to pray, to belong more deeply to Christ and to His Church and to praise the triune God through the celebration of the Eucharist.
The day before it was my privilege to preside at the high school graduation in the same spot. 580 young men and women were graduated from St. Anthony’s on June 11. More than a fifth of them scored a four-year average of 95 or higher. All of them have been admitted to college and the list of scholarships received filled several pages of the program. The Franciscan Brothers, like the faculty and administrators in our three diocesan high schools and the six other Catholic high schools, merit our deep appreciation for their dedication to the truly apostolic work of Catholic education. Time and again as I visit these high schools, I marvel that we combine all the elements of a full Catholic education and formation. Our schools teach science but also religion. Our schools teach math but also virtue. Our schools teach social sciences and language skills but also offer opportunities for care for the poor, outreach to others, experience of mission life. In short these young men and women graduate from Catholic schools with an integral formation and a superior education that will make them leaders in the Church and in the wider society in the years to come.
Two groups were especially dear to me at the celebration last Sunday. Those who work in the field of catechetics and faith formation, the Directors of Religious Education and the volunteer catechists in our parishes are among the most generous adult Catholics we have. Sister of St. Joseph Mary Alice Piil who oversees the diocesan efforts to build up faith formation and catechetics sat in the congregation surrounded by girls and boys who this year had made their first holy Communion. What a beautiful sight that was! How loving and touching these innocent children are and what hope they give to us for the future.
From the Knights of Columbus honor guard and the fourth degree Knights led by our state deputy Salvatore Restivo to the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre as well as two Knights and a Dame of Malta, the congregation was enriched by the participation of those who have a particular commitment to the Holy Land and to the fraternal service of our brothers and sisters in this diocese and beyond. Catholic Charities brought residents from some of the homes they operate for special adults whose very presence announces God’s love for and our care for the dignity of every human person. Catholic Health Services of Long Island with its six hospitals and specialized agencies, including Healthy Sundays and the Bishop James McHugh clinics for women and children’s health care were warmly represented.
The music expressed the whole gamut of Catholic Church music. Darcel Whitten-Wilamowski and her Total Praise gospel choir, the Hispanic folk group and the diocesan choir made the music in which all joined in reach up to the heavens. My brother priests numbering almost 200 and deacons, more than 100, assisted the three auxiliary bishops and me at this Mass of thanksgiving for the gifts God has poured into the life of this Church.
There were two goals that were suggested to me by the Diocesan Pastoral Council and were the focus of my remarks during the homily. The first is our preparation across the diocese and in every parish for the implementation of the third edition of the Roman Missal in English. This will take place the weekend of the First Sunday of Advent this year. The Office of Worship has been offering workshops for priests, deacons and parish staffs. One can click on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, and find more information about this. It is my firm conviction that the implementation of the new translation of the third edition of the Missal (currently we are using a translation of the first edition of 1968) will bring great new opportunities for spiritual growth in our diocese. Armed with that renewal and deepening of our celebration of the Eucharist, we will belong more deeply to Christ and His Church. That will then be the spur to the second goal: becoming evangelizers, all of us, inviting Catholics and non-Catholic alike to come and see, to worship God and to join us in the Sunday celebration of Mass. That will be a principal goal of our prayer and our efforts beginning in Lent of next year.
My thanks go to all the priests in our parishes who spread the word and encouraged so many parishioners to join us Sunday afternoon. My thanks to all who participated and to all who made it happen. And above all my thanks are to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to Mary, the Mother of our Savior and Mother of the Church and us all, to Saint Agnes who protects this local Church which invites one and all to belong more deeply and to come to know the love of Christ which is the gift of the Holy Spirit.