Beautiful Celebrations in Mary’s Month

During this Season of Easter, each day we are enjoying the Gospel accounts of that period immediately following the Resurrection, as the Apostles coming to understand the Lord’s Resurrection and the task that he will entrust to them and to the Church at His Ascension.  With the assistance of the Holy Spirit that He will send upon the Apostles, in that great Feast of Pentecost we will soonly celebrate, the Apostles become a living link between the Resurrected Lord and the future of the Church, as the Gospels are proclaimed and the Divine Revelation is shared with the nations.
It is fantastic to realize how important this time was in the history of the Church and to the salvation of the human race, as the Apostles come to understand that Jesus Christ is the unique savior and the only begotten Son of God.  This Season of Easter symbolizes the Apostles’ time spent with the Resurrected Lord and is a pivotal time when the Son of God could manifest to us the true nature of God and the essential link forged between God and the human race in the person of the Resurrected Jesus Christ.
This year as in my previous years as Bishop, Mary’s Month is a time of travel across the Diocese, for the celebration of Confirmation in so many of our parishes and for other significant celebrations in the life of faith communities located all over the State.  I am very grateful for this time to travel throughout West Virginia and enjoying the Sacrament of Confirmation with the people in so many of our parishes. It is always a beautiful experience between the Bishop and the people, especially as I watch parents and grandparents, sponsors and even siblings smile bigly and proudly upon the confirmandi, sharing in the joy of this moment for these young people. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy celebrating this Sacrament in our parishes and how good it is for me.  I can escape into the pastoral lives of our parishes and their wonderful people and enjoy them.
Another part of May that I always look forward to is our annual Convocation of Priests at St. John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston.  There was a very good attendance and I enjoyed being with so many good priests.  This year’s Convocation addressed the topic of a parish program for Vocations, and provided many simple and effective suggestions.
The Convocation also gave our priests a chance to celebrate the Mass together and to share meals with one another.  With the dining area full for dinner, I took time to notice each group of friends celebrating together and enjoying each other’s company.  Most of our priests live alone in parishes separated by distance and responsibilities, which prevent them from having the opportunity of gathering together in mutual support and enjoyment.  This is one of the reasons the annual Convocation is such an important event in the lives of our priests.  We were fortunate to celebrate 25th and 50th anniversaries of several of our priests, with Father George Manjadi returning from India to be part of the celebration.  I am thankful to Monsignor Anthony Cincinnati, my Episcopal Vicar for Clergy, for the work he and his staff do to make the Convocation a wonderful experience for all.  The Convocation also gave us the opportunity to remember the Priests who had died this year, especially Father Mark Gallipeau, whose funeral took place the day before the Convocation.  He was a wonderful priest and his illness and death came as a surprise to so many of us.  I ask you to pray for his family, for the parishioners who cared for him, and for his many priest friends, especially Father Casey Mahone, who gathered around him in fraternal care.
In the middle of this Month of May, we marked the 100th anniversary of the first Apparition of Our Lady to the  three shepherd children at Fatima.  Pope Francis made this centennial all the more meaningful by visiting Fatima and canonizing two of the visionaries, recalling how pivotal Our Lady’s appearance and her message were at such a pivotal moment in world history.  I am very happy that at this time our diocese will build a Marian Shrine in the Eastern part of our Diocese. We are now completing plans for a Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at St. James Parish in Charles Town. I am really excited for this Marian Shrine in our Diocese, which will help us all to celebrate our devotion to our Blessed Mother and the great gift of her Son into our world. Please pray for the success of this Shrine and its assistance in our faith experience and our devotion to the Mother of God.  This is certainly the time and place for our Blessed Mother and her sympathetic action within the world.