Spring sacraments and celebrations are signs of God’s love
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
During the last several weeks, I have been privileged to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with our young people, bestowing upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gifts that flow from the Spirit. The number of candidates being confirmed was most encouraging, but still more encouraging was their participation and engagement both in preparing for the reception of the sacrament and for the Mass for Conferral of Confirmation. Indeed, these young people are a sign of great hope and already are leaders in our schools and parishes.
I also had the joy of celebrating the reception of First Holy Communion by some of our young children. The ceremony continues to impress so deeply the hearts of those attending this beautiful occasion, bringing us back to the time of our own First Holy Communions. I am most grateful to the pastors, parochial vicars, pastoral administrators, religious-education coordinators, religious-education teachers, sponsors and certainly the parents who have given our young people such support.
The privilege of being with our young people continues now with the graduation exercises in our schools. At these ceremonies I cannot help but think of the challenges our young people are facing and will continue to deal with in the future. I pray that they remain close to our Lord and find in Jesus and in the church true support, together with their families. I also appreciate the many sacrifices parents make on behalf of their children. I believe that it is more than a coincidence that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated during this season marking important moments in the lives of our young people.
During this same time, we celebrated the annual Wedding Jubilee Mass, calling to mind that Jesus Himself used the holy Sacrament of Matrimony to describe His own love for the church. In an age when commitments can be overwhelming for our young people because of the many challenges affecting commitments — especially to a lifelong, vowed life to love, honor, support and cherish one’s spouse until death do they part — the couples participating at the Mass were a powerful example of what a marriage lived in love and fidelity can accomplish.
This also is a time that ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood occur, as well as celebrations of anniversaries of ordinations. These joyous occasions are joined to the jubilee celebrations of our religious sisters, who have contributed and continue to contribute so much to the life of our diocese in so many areas of ministry. I was deeply impressed as I read last month’s Catholic Courier and noted how many devoted years of service by these dedicated religious have helped build up the Body of Christ in our diocese. Our priest jubilarians often have expressed their appreciation for the support our religious have been for them throughout their own years of ministry.
In a special way, I wish to express the appreciation of our diocese for the apostolic ministry of our Bishop Emeritus Bishop Matthew H. Clark, who celebrated his 40th anniversary of episcopal ordination on May 27, 2019. Bishop Clark had the privilege to be ordained a bishop by St. John Paul II. Through the intercession of St. John Paul, we pray that the Eternal High Priest will continue to bless Bishop Clark.
These celebrations are a manifestation of the love of all God’s people for the presence of Jesus in our midst in the sacraments, especially in the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, and in the church’s many apostolates. I am sure that many other anniversaries are being celebrated by members of our parish communities who serve as volunteers and contribute so very much to the vitality of our parishes. I wish them all a very happy anniversary!
During this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us unite our hearts to His, begging his help in our daily lives: “Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in you, have mercy on us.”
As we look to the summer months, I wish you God’s peace and happiness and with a continued remembrance in my prayers, I remain
Devotedly yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend
Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester