Moments of Grace

The month of February brought my first celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in 2017. In keeping with what seems to be an annual custom, this first celebration took place at the Basilica Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston. Unlike several prior years, the weather was a really pleasant experience for traveling and staying at St. John XXIII Pastoral Center, where I spent several days in order to visit our Schools in the area and meet with some of our priests.
The Confirmation itself was enjoyable, as always, with the confirmandi and their families so very happy and a joy to be with for me. From my first meeting with the confirmandi, asking questions of them and hearing so many positive responses, it was clear to me that these young people had a real understanding of the Holy Spirit and were eager for his outpouring upon them in the actual conferral of the Sacrament. With so many other issues and challenges that have been occupying my attention, this moment of grace—like so many others in my life as your Bishop—are so precious to me. I am grateful to those faithful, especially parents, sponsors, and catechists, who have brought young people through Baptism to first Penance and First Holy Communion and then Confirmation. These Sacraments are beautiful parts of our young people’s lives and create moments of grace for them and their families as they grow to maturity of their faith in Christ Jesus.
The next day, I was able to offer Mass for about 230 Confirmation candidates, as they were engaged in a day of retreat organized by Mr. Robert Perron and our Diocesan Youth Office. Following the Mass, I was able to join the confirmandi and their catechists for an enjoyable lunch. These young people sang very well at the Mass and enjoyed being with so many other members of our Catholic youth of West Virginia; in fact, this is one of the most beautiful aspects of these Diocesan Confirmation Retreats as they bring young people together from varied communities throughout the State and help them to experience the truly diocesan nature of our Church, a microcosm of the larger, universal Church. I was also grateful to see the many adults engaged in sharing with and helping these young people throughout the retreat. We are so fortunate to have so many who care so much for others and leading others to know and love their faith.
On Monday, I went to St. Agnes Parish in Charleston, where the sanctuary has been recently renovated and a stunning new tabernacle has been installed in this beautiful Church. I enjoyed celebrating the Mass and blessing the new tabernacle, and was so very pleased that the children from the Parish Grade School were able to be part of the Mass. The students read the Scripture readings for Mass and sang in the student choir. Their clarity and enthusiasm was really exciting and it was a great opportunity for me to see so many beautiful children actively engaged in the celebration of the Mass. It was truly a blessing for me to be with them and their parish community.
While in Charleston I was also able to attend a reception for our Catholic leaders in the State Legislature. This is a very critical time in the history of our State as the state revenue has dropped drastically, in no small part to the decline in revenues produced from severance taxes on coal, and the continued challenges our State has in attracting new jobs and producing new sources of revenue. Please pray that wise decisions will be made during this legislative session, especially in setting a budget which will enable us to meet the real needs of our people, especially the poor, across West Virginia.