Renewal aimed to plant seeds of hope, faith

It is quite fitting that at Pentecost later this month, when we joyously commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first apostles, we’ll have a series of regional liturgies to celebrate the culmination of our three-year Spirit Alive! renewal initiative.

I will preside at each of these liturgies to which parish representatives have been invited. Preaching at the liturgies will be Father Richard Fragameni, priest of the Diocese of Albany and associate professor of liturgical preaching at the Chicago Theological Union. Each person who attends will receive a special blessing to carry the Good News of renewal and discipleship back to their parish. All are welcome as we celebrate the promise of ongoing growth and discipleship.

The liturgies are:

  • Saturday, May 22, 5 p.m. at St. Mary Our Mother Church, Horseheads

  • Sunday, May 23, 12:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace, St. Francis site, Geneva

  • Sunday, May 23, 5 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rochester

    I do hope you were able to take part in some or all of the many programs of prayer and study, educational opportunities and special gatherings that occurred during the three seasons of Spirit Alive! All have been aimed at helping you to renew your relationship with Jesus and to better understand and practice Christian discipleship.

    As I wrote at the beginning of the renewal, I felt Spirit Alive! would serve as a balm and refreshment for us all in a time when some circumstances had created hurt and division, such as the abuse scandal, parish and school closings, and continued polarization among Catholics. Spiritual renewal, I hoped, would provide us with opportunities to mend relationships, both with each other and with Jesus, to strengthen our communities, and to become revitalized for mission.

    To that end, we launched a new Web site filled with resources that will remain up and running — And we began the first season of Spirit Alive!, "Deepening One’s Commitment to Jesus Christ," with a series of services of reconciliation, healing and hope, as well as a special DVD spiritual retreat I was privileged to record. As the seasons of the renewal unfolded, we emphasized Scripture study. For example, we encouraged a diocesanwide study of the Gospel of Mark in season two, "Deepening One’s Knowledge and Understanding of the Word," and many people enjoyed our video "Bible for Us" among other tools. In addition, we held Catholic call-ins to connect people and their questions on faith with experts, as well as communicated a steady flow of tips to enrich one’s faith journey.

    More recently, we have stressed "Deepening One’s Commitment to Discipleship and Stewardship" through a wonderful program of study and faith-sharing called "Get Into the Acts," based on the Acts of the Apostles.

    As I have traveled throughout the diocese, I have encountered many, many people who benefited from Spirit Alive! I thank Maribeth Mancini, director of our Evangelization and Catechesis office, and Father Peter Clifford, pastor of St. John of Rochester in Fairport, and their team for great work and great inspiration.

    Going forward, we will continue to keep the Spirit Alive! not only through the Web site but the promotion of study of the Bible every year. We hope we have planted seeds of spirit, hope and faith that will flourish in the years to come. And I pray that the many ways we have reached out to young people through new technology and outreach in this renewal will blossom and lead them to a deep commitment to the church and to God.

    May we all continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus, in our knowledge of the Bible and our faith, and in our love and care for each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.

    Peace to all.

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