Friday, January 28, 2011
One of the major news items this month was the announcement of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica on April 1. This announcement was a time of reflection for me. At the Synagogue in Fort Worth two Saturdays ago, I clearly said that I consider myself a priest and bishop formed in the era of John Paul II. I was a graduate student in Canon Law at the Angelicum University in Rome from 1981 - 1985. In September of 1981 I was sent to Rome as a newly ordained priest (this year I will celebrate 30 years as a priest and 60 years of age!) thanks to my Diocesan Bishop at the time, Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas.
In the Fall of 1981 Pope John Paul II was still recovering from his gunshot wounds and his presence in the city of Rome was a point of great enthusiasm both for the people of Rome and for all those foreign nationals living and studying there. I remember clearly the Holy Father's reaction to Martial Law in Poland and his General Audiences, in which he spoke about the "Theology of the Body". I also have wonderful memories of the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the ecclesiastical university students at St. Peter's Basilica. As a newly ordained priest processing into St. Peter's, I heard everyone singing "Praise to the Lord the Almighty" in their own languages. I also recall how seriously John Paul II took his identity as Bishop of Rome, visiting a Roman parish each Sunday and meeting with the parishioners and celebrating Mass!
His ability as Bishop and Pastor to engage, reach out and meet people of all walks of life is a model that has shaped me and still inspires me and for that reason I would like to relate one personal example of this. In January of 1982, thanks to now Bishop Mike Sheridan of Colorado Springs, I was invited with a group of St. Louis priests and seminarians to the Holy Father's Mass in his private chapel. As a priest for only six months at the time, I got to stand next to the Holy Father during the Mass and hold his chalice at the Doxology. It was an experience that has stayed with me over the years and still comes to me when I celebrate Mass. It impressed on the me the importance of the celebration of the Eucharist in the daily life of the priest. Afterward, he met us all in his library, and I told him that I was studying at the Angelicum, which was his Alma Mater. We spoke about that and he asked me what I was studying there. The Sunday after this he was visiting the parish church Santa Maria della Fratte. Some of us from the Casa walked over and were able to be near the entrance of the Church. When he saw me he came over and said "You were in my Chapel!" After that I was kidded by the priests of the Casa Santa Maria and one of them, Father Ken Omernick of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who is a close friend of mine even prepared a sign in caligraphy for the door of my room that said, "Il Preferito del Papa"...the Preferred of the Pope!
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:55 AM
Monday, January 24, 2011
I have just arrived at Washington D.C., on this cold, but beautiful Sunday morning. I am here at Theological College, right across the street from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where the Mass to open the March For Life will be held this evening at 6:30 PM. We currently have three seminarians in residence here at this venerable institution on the campus of Catholic University. "TC" as it is known, is administered by the Sulpician Fathers. The Rector is Fr. Mel Blanchette S.S. The seminary enrollment here is at capacity, and in fact there is a waiting list.
As I have some time of reflection this afternoon, I was thinking back to a special Mass and celebration at Nolan Catholic High School here in Fort Worth on Friday morning. Nolan Catholic has an enrollment of around 1100 students and is administered by the Society of Mary--the Marianists. The celebration at the school on Friday morning was the 60th anniversary of Father Robert Hackel SM as a Marianist. He made his first vows on August 15, 1951. I joked with him that I was three months old at the time! Father Hackel has been assigned to Nolan Catholic for three different times. His ministry here is a blessing not only for the students of Nolan - with daily Mass and Confessions - but his ministry extends to staff, faculty, and religious as well. The homily at Mass was preached by Rev. Bill Meyer SM. At the end of Mass, I thanked Fr. Hackel for the joy and encouragement and wisdom he brings to so many. His ministry and friendship has been a special blessing for me. He truly lives his vocation as part of the family of Blessed Chaminade. Ad multos annos gloriosque annos!
This weekend is the weekend of the commemoration of the Supreme Court Decision of Roe v. Wade. It is a time of penance, commemoration, and recommitment to clearly proclaim the sacredness of life from the moment of conception to natural death. I am about ready to leave for a Mass at St. Vincent's chapel on the campus of Catholic University for pro-life leaders. Later on this evening, I will be present at the Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Until later...God bless always...
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:17 AM
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Our annual Respect Life Mass was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Fort Worth on Friday evening, and despite the cold weather, we had one of the biggest crowds yet, and a great number of priests. A special thanks to Chanacee Ruth-Kilgore, director of our Respect Life Office, for organizing this event. The color of the vestments was purple, a sign of penance. In my homily I compared the readings of the Mass to the instruction sheets that often came with the models I received at Christmas when I was young. They are an "instruction sheet" for all involved in respect life ministry. Rather than follow our own ways, we should look to Sacred Scripture for grounding in the Word of God, who gives life and guides us all.
The recent publicity surrounding abortion clinics in New York has horrified everyone. It was reported that 41% of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. This darkness reminds us of the work still to be done in creating safe, healthy and loving environments for every member of society, but especially mothers and children. Mothers, who often bear the bulk of child rearing responsibilities, must be supported in their efforts and women in general must be respected as they strive to realize their own personal goals in life. We should not be surprised when living, reduced to mere surviving, poses a threat to human flourishing. And we should not be surprised when the collective failure to live the Gospel of Life leads to death. Yet, even in this darkness and with these struggles, a light shines. By carrying the message of Life, we are bringing this light to the darkness.
On the 38th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade I went to Dallas for the Mass at the Cathedral Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe-Sacred Heart. It was filled to capacity, and overflowing onto the streets outside, in spite of the weather. Bishop Farrell delivered a powerful and inspiring homily for all that were present. After mass we marched to the Earle Cabell Federal Court House, where the Roe V. Wade decision was handed down 38 years ago. It was an eloquent, powerful witness to life by people of many Faiths. The numbers of people present was a clear testimony to the desire to live the Gospel of Life.
A walk towards the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse, where Roe. v Wade was first filed in 1970.
In addition to the Dallas March for Life, I was invited to Weatherford, Texas, to speak to and bless those involved with the Hike for Life. At St. Stephen's Church, the youth together with their pastor, Father James Casey SAC, gathered for their own Respect Life Rally. A crowd of parishioners, young and old alike gathered in the church parking lot to pray and to proclaim their care for mothers and families. From St. Stephen's, which is located on a hill, they hiked down Bethel Road. Again, it was cold but the sun was out and it helped warm the day. Thanks to Father Casey, the youth, and families of his parish for their wonderful testimony. I could say more of these three different gatherings but I will end with this final thought… one of the commonalities of these three gatherings was the magnitude of young people present at all of them.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 3:45 PM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
This year the Diocese of Fort Worth recently marked the 25th annual Mass of remembrance for Dr. Martin Luther King. The first Mass and remembrance of this kind was organized by Father Carmen Mele OP, and was celebrated at the Catholic Center. In the years that followed, the celebration moved around to several parishes in the "Metroplex" area, always with a guest homilist, who was either a Josephite or a Divine Word priest. This year the Mass was celebrated at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The choir was from the venerable and beloved parish of Our Mother of Mercy in Fort Worth. There was a good crowd for the Mass and a number of priests were present, along with Deacon Leonard Sanchez, Chancellor of the Diocese who helped to organize this important celebration. I was the principal celebrant and the guest homilist was Bishop Martin Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. I knew Bishop Holley from the "New Bishops School" which we attended in Rome together in the Fall of 2005. I invited Bishop Holley to be the homilist at this Mass, and in his sermon he spoke about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the same time, he made a clear connection between human dignity and human life and the inviolability of life before birth. He reminded us that, "Today, we are challenged to continue living his dream and the only way that we can keep Dr. Kings dream alive is by living it, and following the example that he gave us. In reality, it means living the Life of Christ, who is the WAY, the Truth, and the Life, and by facing the challenges that our modern society presents to us today and applying the Gospel values of peace and justice, by respecting the dignity of every human being."
Thank you, +Bishop Martin Holley for your powerful preaching and words to all of us on this important occasion.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:20 AM
Sunday, January 16, 2011
In Benedict XVIth's January 1st homily celebrating the World Day of Peace, he said:
"For the Church, dialogue between the followers of the different religions represents an important means of cooperating with all religious communities for the common good. The Church herself rejects nothing of what is true and holy in the various religions. She has a high regard for those ways of life and conduct, precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men and women.”
In light of his focus on the relationship between religions, I would like to share with you an address I delivered on Saturday, January 15th at the invitation of Rabbi Gary Perras to the Conservative Jewish Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. They hosted a gathering on Inter-Religious Dialogue, choosing the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate (In our Age) as the central theme. I would also like to thank Pat Svacina, Fr. John Robert Skeldon and Fr. Isaac Orozco for helping with this important event.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity;It is like the precious oil running upon the head,running down upon the beard,upon the beard of Aaron,running down on the collar of his robes!It is like the dew of Hermon,which falls on the mountains of Zion.For there the Lord has commanded the blessinglife for evermore." - Psalm 133
Dear Brothers and Sisters here today,
I wanted to open these remarks with Psalm 133 for several reasons. The Psalms are part of all priests' and religious' daily prayer...five times a day in fact, and often, I have found them speaking to me of God's ever abiding presence in the sometimes challenging moments of life and ministry. This particular Psalm is also one of my favorites because in seminary formation it is often prayed as a reminder to men preparing for the priesthood of how we need to be as a community of Faith and prayer with one another. I do not remember many particulars from my seminary formation in the late 1970's, but I do remember Psalm 133. The name of your synagogue, Ahavath Sholom or "Love of peace", I believe, reflects what this Psalm teaches us, especially in light of what has now been over 45 years since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, The Declaration on The Relation of The Church to Non-Christian Religions promulgated by Pope Paul VIth on October 28th, 1965. But we are also reminded of the efforts of Pope John XXIIIrd, whose experience before becoming Pope was enriched by his relationship with Jewish people in the various countries where he was posted as Papal Nuncio.
In section No. 5 of Nostra Aetate itself it says, "We cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than brotherly fashion, for all men are created in God's image. Man's relation to God the Father and man's relation to his fellow men are so dependent on each other that the Scripture says, 'He who does not love, does not know God' " (1 John 4:8). I come here today grateful for this invitation and gathering and would like to thank especially Rabbi Gary Perras for his gracious and brotherly welcome. I hope that in God's providence, a new friend has come my way. I have been in Fort Worth for about 5 1/2 years now, and am happy that I am able to be with you today. I hope that this is the beginning of a relationship of brotherly love that is expressed in both Psalm 133 and Nostra Aetate, and that together we can advance in the love of peace. I have tried to place these reflections in a framework of remembrance and from the heart, recalling what the Word of God tells us in Leviticus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." For us as Catholic Christians, this is at the heart of the Gospel, as it is the heart of the Torah.
I should state that although I got to Texas as fast as I could, I am also a product of the Midwest, and I am a bishop and priest of the time of Pope John Paul II. Certainly, he is a major figure in my life and time, having seen him many times when I was a graduate student in Rome in the early 1980's. And for this reason I would like to bring to your attention a book that I've read again and again, entitled The Hidden Pope. It chronicles the boyhood friendship of Karol Wojtyla with Jerzy Kluger, whose father was head of the Jewish Community in Wadowice, and how that friendship continued into his adult life as the Bishop of Rome. One remembrance that was in the book was an incident in which Jerzy Kluger rushed over to the Church of the Presentation on the square in Wadowice, to tell his friend Karol that he had passed his exams. When Fr. Wojtyla was asked by an older woman why he [Jerzy] was in the Church, he simply responded, "Aren't we all God's children?!"
This anecdote reminds us of how single occurrences of love pierced through the unfortunate anti-Semitism of the time. Certainly, because of a breakdown in the communion of love, a new approach to dialogue and relationship between Christians and Jews has been necessitated. And for this reason I have thought long and hard about what improved relationships with Jewish peoples means in my own life as both priest and bishop. In Springfield, Illinois, where I grew up, there are two Jewish Congregations: one Reformed and the other Conservative. I do not honestly ever remember my parents or grandparents uttering a negative word about Jewish people. My father was a postal worker and my grandfather a salesman for General Mills who traveled all over central Illinois to sell flour and breakfast cereals during the great depression and years later. My grandfather Jones, who was a convert to the Catholic Faith, valued relationships and friendships with many people, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. They both worked with people of different faiths. As an adult, as a priest, I began to go the YMCA to try to get some physical exercise and work out--after a fashion. It was there that I was blessed with a number of members of the local Jewish community, who to this day are important to me even if I do not see them so often. I think of Sid and Ruth Goldman, Jerry and Annette Schwartz, Ralph and Betty Hurwitz (who came to my ordination here in Fort Worth), and Bob Goldman. One time Bob and I, and an athletic director at one of the community colleges - Yavuz Gonulson (a Muslim) said to me, "Where else but in the United States could a Muslim, a Jew, and a Catholic priest be friends?"
Despite the way in which we met, these were not superficial relationships since they opened the door to me for a spiritual and familial heritage that provided an occasion not only to live the Psalms better but to better understand some of the prayers of the Catholic Liturgy, and roots of the Church when we bless God saying, "Blessed are you Lord God of all Creation." These experiences of friendships and relationships reflect the words that I believe are attributed to John Paul II when he said, "We are all spiritual Semites."
If we see Nostra Aetate as the foundation for the age in which we now live, how then do we live this document of 45 years ago in "our time", in this world which is often marked by violence, fear (as last week in Arizona), division, and a perceived and sometimes felt specter about return to past attitudes? Where do we turn and what do we find, and then where do we go from here?
In recent generations we have turned to Pope John Paul II and his many encounters with Jewish communities around the world, his visit to the Great Synagogue in Rome, and his visit to the Western Wall and his insertion of a prayer in the wall to God which said, "God of our Fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those, who in the course of history, have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the People of the Covenant." For as even the Christian Scriptures say, "The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (Romans).
Pope Benedict XVI too, is certainly committed to building on the contributions of his predecessors and the direction laid out by Nostra Aetate and the Second Vatican Council (in which he participated as a theological advisor to Cardinal Frings of Cologne). In fact it will soon be the one year anniversary of Pope Benedict's visit to the Roman Synagogue, where in the presence of Roman Jews he said:
"When he came among you for the first time, as a Christian and as Pope,my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, wanted to make a decisivecontribution to strengthening the good relations between our twocommunities, so as to overcome every misconception and prejudice.My visit forms a part of the journey already begun, to confirm and deepen it.With sentiments of heartfelt appreciation, I come among you to express toyou the esteem and the affection which the Bishop and the Church ofRome, as well as the entire Catholic Church, have towards thiscommunity and all Jewish communities around the world."
|Il Giornale: Pope Benedict and Rabbi Di Segni of Rome|
From my reading of this, it seems to be that Pope Benedict is reflecting on the importance of relationships between Jews and Christians. In 2008, when he visited the Park East Synagogue in New York he said, "I know that the Jewish community makes a valuable contribution to the life of the city. I encourage all of you to continue to build bridges of friendship with all the many ethnic and religious groups present in your neighborhood. I assure you most especially of my closeness at this time, as you prepare to celebrate the great deeds of the Almighty, and to sing the praises of Him who has worked such wonder for his people."
The name of your Congregation - "Love of Peace" (Ahavath Sholom), has the word "Sholom" in its name. As we all know "Sholom" is the word of greeting and goodbye in Hebrew. And it conveys wholeness and completeness, which are very relational. I also believe this points us the way to go, in addition to the words of Pope Benedict XVI.
|Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger: Pope Benedict XVI visits the Park East Synagogue on Friday in New York|
In that light, (peace, relationship, building of bridges of friendship between Catholics and Jews) may I relate to you one more story of my own life? I was the pastor of a large parish in Decatur, Illinois (central Illinois) from 1992 to 2001. Part of my priestly ministry there was first Friday communion calls. This was in fact the practice of taking Holy Communion to the sick and shut-ins the first Friday of every month, to assure that they would have a visit from one of the parish priests. One of my calls was an older woman whose name was Leah Greenberg. Leah was Italian Catholic, and her husband Bill was Jewish. I took Leah communion on several occasions and Bill was always friendly and pleasant. He himself was not well. It dawned on me (perhaps the work of the Holy Spirit, I believe now) that I should pray with him as well. So, I began the custom of always praying the Blessing of Aaron from The Book of Numbers (Chapter 6) over him. He seemed to appreciate that, and in those moments, I was learning, and a bridge was being built. I always enjoyed my visits with Bill and Leah. Their son Joel and I even became good friends. When he took over his father's shoe business I always bought my shoes from him. Bill died in 1998, before Leah. I attended his funeral and to the best of my recollection, even assisted the visiting Rabbi. Leah died some years later after I had been transferred from the parish back to Springfield. I spoke with Joel just yesterday in preparation for this reflection about his mother and father. I asked specifically about Bill's funeral and the prayers that were said, but Joel mentioned something to me, which I had completely forgotten, responding, "Father don't you remember Christmas Eve 1996?" I said, "No, I do not." He said, "You came over on Christmas Eve with everything else that had to be done in the parish on that day to pray with my father because he was so sick. My parents always remembered that."
I had forgotten about it, and I guess that I prayed one of the Psalms and the blessing of Aaron. I am not saying this to speak about myself, but to reinforce what I believe is a key for all of us now, to work together to build relationships and friendships. Because when we do, not only do we know each other better, but we can build those bridges and relationships, or rather, let God in His providence and goodness do that for us. The hand of God, through Bill and Leah and Joel, built a bridge toward me as well.
With that I would like to thank you again for this time together and conclude with that same blessing, which I often use on New Year's Day:
"May the Lord bless you and keep you.May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 10:45 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
|Archabbot Lambert Reilly OSB|
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:10 AM
Monday, January 10, 2011
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of presiding at a Mass of Resurrection for Father Severius ("Sev") Blank, retired priest of our Diocese. Father Blank was ordained for the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth on February 24, 1958. For many years, prior to his retirement he served as pastor of the parish of St. Jude Thaddeus in Burkburnett, Texas. Father Blank came to this country as a very young man, an immigrant from Holland, to join his uncle in our country. His uncle passed away soon after he left. Eventually Sev joined the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth and was ordained in 1958.
|Priests singing the Salve Regina at the Funeral of Fr. Sev.|
The Mass of Resurrection for "Sev", and his life and ministry in North Texas, is an appropriate and providential link between two weeks that have been marked out for the Church in this country by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: The National week of Migration and this week dedicated to priestly, religious, and diaconal vocations. Many of us cannot imagine what it would be like to completely leave behind family, friends, and country in pursuing a religious vocation. Yet, that is just what "Sev" did. So many of us in Texas continue to be the beneficiaries of the religious vocations. Priests like "Sev" heard the voice of "Come follow me" to go the far parts of the world to preach the Gospel. Father Sev came as a immigrant to our country and because of this the lives and people of North Texas grew stronger in their Catholic Faith. Father Hoa Nguyen of Sacred Heart parish in Wichita Falls preached a beautiful homily at the funeral Mass, and at the end I mentioned that I had been blessed to know "Sev" these past six years. I, like all of the rest who knew and loved him, found that once we were able to get past his exterior (or once he let us in!) we found a parish priest whose heart was truly with the people he served, especially at St. Jude's in Burkburnett! I appreciated the chance I had to visit with him this past year, once during Confirmation and another time at a wake service. Those moments for me, as a Bishop, were great moments of blessing for me since we had a lot of time to catch up and visit. Father Severius Blank's life and ministry as a parish priest is a point of reflection for us all during this week dedicated to priestly, religious, and diaconal vocations. His complete dedication and love for the people whom he served is an example of how the life of a parish priest is absolutely integral and essential not only to the local Church, but to the community where he is sent. It is equally essential that all involved in the lives of our parishes and institutions continue to foster a climate and culture for "vocations" and actively invite others to consider how the Lord is calling them to this life.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 12:05 PM
Saturday, January 8, 2011
As we approach The Baptism of The Lord there are, I believe, some more points for reflection in these last days of the Celebration of the Birth of the Lord. This week is also National Migration Week. I can recall when as a student priest in Rome I initially struggled to learn another language, waiting in massive crowds to obtain a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) at a police station in Rome, trying to learn, understand and live in another culture. It was a time of great change and uncertainty for me. In the long run it was a time of blessing as well. Perhaps I took for granted the privileges of citizenship. In the process of seeking permission to travel in a foreign country I learned the tentativeness of my own studies abroad, even in a Catholic country. Along with a host of experiences over those four years, and my own ministry as both priest and bishop I have gained some empathy and understanding for what Catholic (and other) immigrants experience in foreign countries. Certainly their experiences are unique and worth pausing to consider.
The life of the Diocese of Fort Worth is marked and made stronger by so many immigrants from all over the world: Mexico, Central and South America, Vietnam, Korea, India, Ghana, Nigeria (along with other African countries) and Croatia. However, it doesn't stop there. Recently, I met with Bishop Raymund Sumlut Gam from the Diocese of Banmaw, Myanmar who traveled to the United States and stopped in Fort Worth to see first hand the needs of refugees from his own country who have gained asylum in the United States but little else as they struggle for a new identity and place in the world. The life of the local Church is stronger because of all of these families who bring us new life and their Faith. I believe it can be said that we are all of immigrant families, and our families (Irish, German and European countries in the first waves of immigration to our shores) brought with them their hopes, dreams and fears to this country in search of a new life. Let us think of ourselves first as Catholics, and what this means to be "Universal", which is one of the four marks of the Church. In these days, which are collectively designated National Migration Week by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, when we think of the journey of the Magi and their migration in response to Faith (the newborn Christ Child) we can take to heart some of the words of Pope Benedict XVI:
Pope Benedict XVI, from "Message for the Ninety-Third"In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth, obliged to take refuge in Egypt, we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants life, especially refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions and millions of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people. The Family of Nazareth reflects the image of God safeguarded in the heart of every human family, even if disfigured and weakened by emigration."
World Day of Migrants and Refugees" October 18, 2006
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:05 AM
Friday, January 7, 2011
With very little fanfare, three former Anglican bishops of the Church of England were received into the Catholic Church on January 1, at London’s Westminster Cathedral. This act anticipates the establishment in England of an “Ordinariate,” similar to a diocese, as provided for in Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus (Groups of Anglicans). Ordinariates are intended for Catholics who, having previously been Anglican, wish to retain elements of their Anglican heritage.
In the United States, Anglican groups and individuals who wish to be received into the Church through an Ordinariate have been expressing their intentions to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who is the Vatican’s delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in this country. Cardinal Wuerl also chairs an ad hoc committee of the USCCB for Anglicanorum coetibus. I also serve on this committee, as does Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Anglicans from across the nation have written to Cardinal Wuerl, and several “Anglican Use Societies” have been established in various places. Ultimately, the information received by Cardinal Wuerl will be conveyed to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will make a final determination regarding the establishment of an Ordinariate in the U.S as well as a catechetical process for all involved.
Please join me in welcoming with joy those Anglicans who seek reception into the Roman Catholic Church. Their presence amongst us will be a blessing in many ways. At the same time, please pray also for the ongoing ecumenical conversations and relationships between Anglicans and Catholics at all levels, that we may respond to the Lord's call that "all be one", and that we may grow ever closer in Christian love and service.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 6:35 AM
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
|Piazza Navona at Christmas (Photo: The Catholic Traveler)|
It had been many years since I was in Rome for Christmas. Once more I was able to experience the beauty and the lights of Rome at Christmas, the Creche and Christmas Tree in Piazza San Pietro, the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany at the Piazza Navona, and the celebration of Rome on New Year's Eve! All of that was a blessing, in addition to the blessing of time with part of my family.
In part of his opening letter to the participants in Convention for Pueris Cantores, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity said that "The choir communities and the whole Federation make a living part of Christ's Church: the part which is important for our Federation as a community of youth, firmly linked with the liturgy of the Church. It is the place where we can hear best the voice of Christ and feel His Heart beating for us. The possibility of immersing in the atmosphere of prayer, as created by the faithful gathered to attend liturgical celebration, helps everyone, also those who believe less, to fill their hearts with Christ's strength. And here comes the indispensable role of you who sing out the words imbued with evangelical meanings in such a way that they can lift our spirits high to God. When we hear this beauty, we get the impression that something of God's reality pours down upon us!"
These words of Cardinal Rylko echo the words of Pope John Paul II when he spoke about those who are ready to "welcome the joyful tidings which in the Liturgy has become our song: Today is born our Savior". This a song which extends beyond December 26th, beyond the Twelve Days, to the rest of our lives. These words also reflect what I heard from a Choir director from a largely secularized country. She said to me outside of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva: "Bishop, it is a miracle! Only two years ago I had just a handful of children. Now I have over twenty singing harmony in four parts." The season of Christmas is indeed a time of miracles. We pray to be able to see, to recognize, and then to sing together in the Church's liturgy in praise of God, as the Angels and Shepherds of so long ago!
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 1:16 PM
Last week I was able to accompany my brother Les and sister in law Shannon, my nephews John and Kyle, and extended family Kevin and Charla McGinnis and their family Morgan, Mitch and Annie to Rome. I had the blessing and joy of experience the joyful tidings of the liturgy, which is indeed is our song. I have baptized all of their children, and Moran was singing in the children's choir of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 36th International Congress of Pueri Cantores to Rome for a week. The theme of the Congress this year was Deus Caritas Est, based of course, on 's first encyclical. It was a blessing to hear so many children's choirs from around the world singing the song of Christmas. They sang to the Holy Father at a Thursday audience. I heard them sing at St. Mary Major and at the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where I presided at one of many Hour Hours for peace before the Blessed Sacrament. Most importantly, all of these children's choirs together sang at the Mass for January 1, Mary the Mother of God. The Holy Father in his homily not only spoke of the Mary as the Mother of God in our salvation, but also spoke of the importance of religious liberty for Christians, which is being threatened in many parts of the world.
|Pueri Cantores from Korea|
|Pueri Cantores from France|
|Pueri Cantores from Germany|
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:00 AM
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
While in our usual "American efficiency", Christmas trees and decorations begin to come down on December 26th, the wisdom of the Church's liturgical calendar extends this day until the Epiphany, and then after the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and then even until Candlemas Day, which is February 2 (The Feast of the Presentation, the day on which candles are brought to the parish church to be blessed).
|Nativity Scene at St. Peter's Photo: Getty Images|
Reflecting on the celebration of Christmas, which should indeed continue all of these days, Pope John Paul II said on December 24, 2000 that "On this night, the ancient yet ever new proclamation of the Lord's birth rings out. It rings out for those keeping watch, like the shepherds in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. It rings out for those who have responded to Advent's call and who, waiting watchfully, are ready to welcome the joyful tidings which in the liturgy become our song: Today is born our Savior."
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:07 AM