My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
This month we will commence our celebration of the 150th anniversary of our Diocese, founded on March 3, 1868, with a Solemn Mass on September 22nd, 2017, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, with His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan as the celebrant and homilist. Representatives from our parishes, institutions and charitable agencies, as well members from our ecumenical communities, will join with our clergy and religious in celebrating this auspicious occasion.
For the benefit of our entire diocesan family, this Mass will be live streamed on the Catholic Courier website, www.CatholicCourier.com, beginning at 2:00 p.m., EDT, on Friday, September 22nd, 2017. (A recording of the liturgy also will be made available on the website a few days later.)
Noting this very important observance of our diocesan history, I wish to share with you the Foreword I wrote for the forthcoming pictorial history book entitled, Diocese of Rochester: 150 Years of Faith, Hope and Charity, commemorating this momentous occasion:
For 150 years, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has been the visible presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the prayer life and work of the Catholic Church in our verdant 12-county region in western New York. We are bound together as sisters and brothers in a culturally diverse community of faith, in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and we are nourished and strengthened by the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist. Our ongoing proclamation of the Gospel message of faith, hope and charity unfolds in the many parishes, institutions and ministries in our beloved Diocese.
As it was in the beginning, when our Diocese was formed in 1868 from the Diocese of Buffalo by an act of Pope Pius IX, we continue today to share in the Church’s original mandate and mission given to us by our Savior, Jesus Christ: “Go forth and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19).
Indeed, one need only study the episcopal mottos of the Bishops who have shepherded this Diocese to see that continuity of mission:
• Salus animarum lex suprema (The supreme law is the salvation of souls) – Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, 1868-1909.
• Fides et Constantia (Faith and constancy) — Bishop Thomas F. Hickey, 1909-1928.
• Servire regnare est (To serve Christ is to reign) — Bishop John F. O’Hern, 1929-1933.
• Domino servientes (We are servants of the Lord) — Cardinal Edward A. Mooney, 1933-1937.
• In te Domine speravi (In You I have hoped, O Lord) — Bishop James E. Kearney, 1937-1966.
• Da per matrem me venire (Bring me to you through your mother) — Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1966-1969.
• Libentissime impendam et superimpendar (I will gladly spend myself and be spent) — Bishop Joseph L. Hogan, 1969-1978.
• God’s Love endures forever — Bishop Matthew H. Clark, 1979-2012.
In all of these heartfelt words we can see that, from the very beginning, each of our shepherds has guided us to live out our faith in service to Our Lord: to love our gracious, merciful God above all things; to serve our neighbors in need for love of Him; and thereby to experience God’s gift of salvation and eternal life, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother to us all, and the intercession of all the saints.
The motto I chose when I was ordained a bishop is In unitatem fidei, “Toward the unity of faith.” I adopted these words from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (4:13). More than a motto for my episcopacy, it is also my fervent prayer for those I am privileged to shepherd; for I embrace Saint Paul’s conviction that Jesus Christ desires that the entire family of God’s children, working together, strive to attain their fullness of maturity in the unity of the one faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.
In this history celebrating the Sesquicentennial of our beloved Diocese, this unity, this love of Christ Jesus, this desire to serve Jesus as true disciples, comes alive on every page, from the year of our founding until now, through the work of our devoted priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful and through the dedication of our parishes, agencies and schools. As we move forward in faith to the next 150 years, let us ask the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and to bless us.
The Most Reverend
+ Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester