Nine Months of Hope

03-24-2019Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow, March 25, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. We pause our penances for all solemnities during Lent. And, yes, this means that it is only nine months until Christmas!

We celebrate the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her courageous “Yes” to God’s plan, not only for her, but for the salvation of the human race. Mary’s “yes” ushered in the Incarnation of the Lord. At that moment, the eternal Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity took on flesh and became man in time. Every time you and I say “yes” to God’s plan for us, every time we introduce another person to faith in Jesus Christ, we continue the Incarnation.

Holy Mass for the Annunciation will be at 5:30pm in Old St. Mary’s and will include special music. Plan to arrive early to hear the exceptionally superb Rosary Sonata #1: The Annunciation by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, played by our artist-in-residence and St. Mary’s School graduate, Adam DePriest, accompanied by our music director, Frank Deese. You can almost see the Angel’s wings in the flourishes of the violin.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I mentioned in my last columns that we would be hosting a deanery-wide penitential Mass and Holy Hour to pray for the healing of all victims of sexual abuse. Please join us at Old St. Mary’s for Mass at 5:30pm to be followed immediately by a Holy Hour from 6 to 7pm where we will pray a special rosary “For Healing and Protection.” We will also be praying for the Holy Spirit’s action in guiding our bishops as they make necessary changes in order to ensure the protection of all young people from abuse. The Church simply must be the safest place possible.

Why should we pray and do penance when we’re not the ones at fault? First, someone must. Prayer and penance are so powerful for healing, and the disciple of Jesus Christ must be the one to step forward and create the path for healing. Second, it puts the focus back on the healing of all victims, whose lives will never be the same. Third, as people are beginning courageously to step forward from other groups outside the Catholic Church, we can and should be the ones who lead the way in healing and protection.

A reminder: Since 2002 all clergy, staff, and volunteers of parishes and schools around the United States have been required to complete safe environment training, which includes background screening. Currently, our diocese uses Safe Haven as part of our overall program. The purpose is not merely to screen people, but to teach all people who work for the Church in any capacity 1) how to create a safe environment in parishes, and 2) how to recognize signs of abuse that may be happening outside of our parishes and get help for victims. We are committed to empower all adults to learn the signs and prevent all child sexual abuse.

As always, let us pray for each other to be Christ’s light in the world.

Father Wilson