||About 50 people gathered at St. John Vianney Parish, Walnut Creek, on
Feb. 18 for the kick-off reception of the annual Bishop's Appeal. Upcoming receptions, both at 6:30 p.m., will be March 2 at St. Callistus, El Sobrante, and March 3, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwod.
ALL: ALBERT C. PACCIORINI/
THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Church cannot carry out its works without people's support
Michael C. Barber, SJ
Last Sunday I was contacted by a longtime friend of mine, a Naval officer, who asked me to come and anoint his mother, who was dying of liver cancer. She was in her robe and pajamas, sitting up in a chair at home, attended by a nurse from hospice.
Before I began the ritual, we had a long conversation. She told me all about her home parish, Sts. Peter and Paul in The City, and the priests she grew up with. She told me of her years at Presentation High School, and how the Sisters wanted her to become a nun — but she wanted to get married and raise a family. I told her to take the invitation as a compliment!
For some time she told me what her Faith meant to her. In a word: Everything! Her son chimed in that he and his brother were brought up to love their mother — and her Faith: the Catholic Faith.
I then told her that for years, she went to Church to be with Jesus in His house — but that today, Christ had come to her house. I carried the Blessed Sacrament with me, and, after anointing her with the oil of the sick, I administered Viaticum: which means "Holy Communion for the Journey" — the journey home. I also gave her Absolution, and the Papal Pardon with the plenary indulgence. I told her I came to give her everything the Catholic Church could give her to comfort her and take away all fear.
After I left, her son told me his mother said to him, "I'm ready now, and just want to be with the Lord."
Friends, this is why the Catholic Church exists: to bring Christ to people, and bring people to Christ. As it says in John 1: "But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God."
That is why I was so pleased to welcome around 300 candidates, catechumens and converts to the Catholic Faith at three ceremonies in the Cathedral of Christ the Light. There was so much excitement and enthusiasm as they were individually presented by their teachers to the bishop and the wider diocese. Two of the largest "delegations" were students from the Newman Center at UC Berkeley and Saint Mary's College in Moraga. All these folks are a great inspiration to us: showing that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in our diocese.
There's more. The Holy Spirit has been especially active, as more people are taking advantage of going to confession during Lent in this Holy Year of Mercy. We have called in "reinforcements" from religious orders to help at the cathedral. Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits are helping us each week in the ministry of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Last week, one of our seminarians, Matthew Murray, organized a Jubilee of Mercy Pilgrimage from St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda. A group of students walked from the school in Alameda, over the Park Street bridge, through Oakland and up to the Cathedral, which they entered through the Holy Door. As Matthew explained to the kids: "God has welcomed us into His home."
God has indeed done so much for us. Thank you for your support for our annual Bishop's Appeal, which I realize comes in addition to our on-going Capital Campaign. We could not carry on the works of mercy, the Masses, the sacraments, education of the young, doing our part to help the poor, our safe-house to care for victims of human trafficking, our welcoming refugees, CYO youth sports, retreats and confirmation programs, all our ethnic pastoral centers, supporting the training of seminarians, care for retired priests and so much more: all this is accomplished by your loving and generous support. May God — who is rich in mercy — reward you.
(Bishop Barber made these remarks at the kick-off reception of the annual Bishop's Appeal at St. John Vianney Parish, Walnut Creek, on Feb. 18.)
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