The Unbounding Grace of Hope

Recently while visiting Washington D.C., I took the opportunity to visit our Visitation Sisters who had lived and taught formerly at the Mount de Chantal Academy in Wheeling. Following the academy’s closure, the Sisters were transferred to the Visitation Convent in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. The convent is directly adjacent to the Georgetown University Campus, an extremely beautiful setting. The very successful Visitation Academy for girls is located on the same Campus as the Convent, permitting the Sisters easy access to minister within the schools and its administration.

The Mother Superior of the Convent, Sister Mary Berchmans, joined us for the visit. Our Sisters are extremely happy and well cared for in this beautiful Religious Community. Those who are not well are getting professional care in the Convent and have Georgetown Hospital nearby. I am very happy to report to all of you that they were graciously received into the Community and have become vibrant members of it. Indeed, the health of several of the Sisters has even improved since the move. It is evident that the spiritual health and wellbeing of all the Sisters has greatly benefited in the years they have been at Georgetown Visitation: they had hope restored and vitality ensured. I really was welcomed with open arms by these dedicated religious living beautiful lives within their community while still praying for our Diocese.

The celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation continue throughout the Diocese. The Spring schedule recently took me on visits to parishes in Fairmont and Clarksburg. These are beautiful events, heightened by the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and our anticipation of the Solemnity of Pentecost, which both appeal to the human mind with the unbounding grace of hope and the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit. As I visit our parishes, I see firsthand that the faith in our parishes is vibrant and that our people gather together for the Sacrament of Confirmation with thoughtful attention. It is always a joyful experience to have an opportunity to meet first with the candidates and ask them about their knowledge and experience of this beautiful spiritual time in their lives. I am never disappointed in these conversations and I truly learn about the Diocese, these confirmandi, and their families. This is an enriching experience for your Bishop and also a learning experience. It is like reaching into the heart of the Diocese. We are such a beautiful Church in West Virginia.

As I write this column, I am aware that many of our college students have already returned home, some for the summer vacation and some following graduation and the beginning of the quest for work. Meanwhile, graduation for high school students and eighth graders approaches, while the rest of our students look forward to the summer vacation. I congratulate all our graduates and their families and remind them that the end of school should not be the end of learning. Rather, one of the key elements of a happy life is developing a sense of wonder and inquiry about the created world around us, about our fellow members of the human family, and about the God above us all who created and sustains all things. In other words, always be learning! You will never grow bored and may indeed discover new mysteries reflecting God’s love within us all.