ROCHESTER — The first night of the annual Santa Mision at St. Michael Church proved unique in several ways.
The mission welcomed Bishop Salvatore R. Matano for his first visit to the weeklong event. The Aug. 11 session also was the only one held outdoors because of rainfall during the rest of the week.
And the mission featured preaching every night by a local priest — Father Paul English, pastor of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish — instead of a visiting missionary.
During the opening night visit, Bishop Matano blessed the mission and rosaries that were distributed to the more than 70 people in attendance on Aug. 11.
"If you understand my Spanish, it will be a miracle," he joked.
But even though they speak different languages and come from different places, the community is united in prayer and faith, he noted. Bishop Matano also asked those in attendance to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood.
"I pray for you," he said. "Please pray for me."
The power of faith and familial love also are found in the Gospel of Luke, which tells of Jesus staying behind in the temple with the elders while Mary and Joseph searched for him and worried about their son, said Father English.
"Jesus was 12 at the time … on the threshold of being a man, an adult," said Father English. "I assure you a young person nearing adulthood is not thinking of his parents’ feelings or those of others … only what he wants to do."
That is why Jesus questions the reaction of Mary and Joseph, he explained.
"Why were you looking for me? I am in my Father’s house," Jesus replied to his parents’ concern, said Father English.
Mary and Joseph show how parents must consistently demonstrate patience, compassion and, above all things, love as they guide their children to adulthood, he said. And children and youths also should demonstrate patience as later in their lives, they will appreciate all the wisdom that their parents were trying to impart, he said.
Because just as the Holy Family experienced this difficult moment in understanding each other, so will most families, added Father English. But offering one another the kind of love that God gives us will help overcome those challenges, he said.
"I hope that (this mission) will represent a moment in time when God leaves a mark and changes our lives so that the world will know Jesus," said Father English.