This has been a grace-filled week in the Archdiocese of Seattle!
Today, we celebrated the last of nine Rites of Election, formally calling over 1,000 people to receive the Easter Sacraments this coming Easter! This is such a beautiful celebration, and with each one celebrated this week, I received much inspiration and insight. Many thanks to all of our RCIA directors, faith formation instructors and catechists, all who helped these people recognize and respond to the call of Christ in their life, especially their sponsors.
I enjoyed the travels; last Thursday in Edmonds, Saturday in Bremerton, Sunday in the Cathedral, Wednesday in Olympia, Friday in Vancouver, and today in the Cathedral. There were three other celebrations elsewhere as well.
Tuesday, most of you know we received the good news that our Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed one of our own priests as our new auxiliary bishop, Fr. Frank Schuster. He came to the Palisades Retreat Center Tuesday morning where we were celebrating a Mass with some high school students who received commissioning for their work in suicide prevention. That was also a great moment!
I’ve been meeting once a month with our priests by zoom, and this past week was another great opportunity to share thoughts about how we re-envision our mission and the work of evangelization. We normally average between 90 and 100 priests for each of those calls. Also this week, I had a quarterly zoom visit with our seminarians, which was also a delightful time to share fraternity and further explore what the future looks like for them as potential priests, and for all of us as Church.
Of course, every week holds plenty of meetings, and the ones this week were quite substantial. I’m so grateful to our Priest Personnel Board as they work diligently to plan this summer’s priest assignments. You will be hearing more about that challenge in the next edition of the Northwest Catholic Magazine. Our Presbyteral Council also met this week, to give very helpful input on the strategic planning process and progress. This, too, is a topic you will hear more about in the coming months.
I spent the past two days in Vancouver, where I took the opportunity to visit St. Thomas in Camas and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Stevenson. As always, it is so good to meet more of our pastoral leaders and parishioners. The morning began with a very well attended Mass at St. Thomas, and then on to see Our Lady Star of the Sea, and the beautiful scenery along the Columbia River!
One other favorite stop happened as we returned to Vancouver; I was finally able to visit the grave of Mother Jospeh Pariseau, a founding pioneer of the church in the Pacific Northwest, one of five sisters arriving here in 1856.. She was raised near Montreal, Canada, where she was one of the early members of this fledgling religious community named Sisters of Charity of Providence – not to be confused with the Providence Sisters established by St. Mother Theodore Guerine in West Terre Haute, Indiana in 1840!
The Sisters of Charity of Providence were founded by Emmelie Gamelin in the Spring of 1843 in Montreal, Canada.
Mother Joseph was highly regarded during her time here in Oregon and Washington. She learned about woodworking from her father, and designed several buildings in the Vancouver area. She was quite resourceful and known for her generosity and ingenuity.
Of course, we are most grateful for her faith and all she did to put down a solid foundation from which the Sisters of Providence could grow, and expand their many services and education to the poor and the sick. Still present today are Providence Hospitals and some schools which can find their early origins in the hard work of Mother Joseph!
Friday evening the deanery priests gathered for dinner, which allowed us time to pray Evening Prayer together and enjoy some great story telling and fraternity! I believe this is the fifth such gathering of priests I’ve hosted in the past few months, and a few more are scheduled soon. It is such a blessing to once again be able to gather and renew our friendships.
Final thought: Two years ago yesterday I made the difficult announcement to restrict our public gatherings due to the world-wide pandemic which had finally reached our shore. In short time, all other dioceses in the country followed suit. Today, two years later, the mask mandate has been lifted! There are still plenty of world realities needing our prayers, but let us give thanks for this milestone, and pray for the restoration of our human relationships and the good health of those still suffering.
May you have a blessed Lenten journey, one and all!