The past few weeks have provided numerous opportunities to be with God’s holy, faithful people in ways that give me pause for gratitude for the great grace granted me to proclaim the riches of Christ. Another source of gratitude is the faith which I see in and experience through the people of God.
In just the past two weeks:
Forty archdiocesan leaders spent two days at the Archbishop Brunet Retreat Center for some time of prayer and training for mission. At the end of those two days, one of our priests told me, “I have not seen you smile that much since you arrived here!” He was right. Nothing gives me greater joy than sharing my faith, especially with those who are co-workers in the vineyard.
We took time to celebrate Mass together each day, for silent prayer, a few presentations, and opportunities for small groups to discuss their own faith and how they have grown in relationship with Jesus. Everyone truly appreciated the opportunity to be together again. Church, after all, is about building personal relationships precisely for sharing faith and accompanying and supporting each other in the journey of faith.
I am grateful for the many good people who are so dedicated to the service of the Church!
The next day, about sixty of our priests gathered at the retreat center to celebrate Mass and honor our jubilarians, those who entered senior priest status this past year, as well as to remember and pray for those who have gone home to the Lord.
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s emotions and energy, and our priests are not exempt. Never-the-less, they remain dedicated to their ministry and people. They, too, were so happy for an opportunity to gather together in person. While we were unable to share a meal together, many still grabbed their box lunches and gathered in groups inside and outside to linger a little longer in each other’s company. Priestly fraternity is a wonderful experience, and our presbyterate is no different from any other; they enjoy the company of brother priests. God bless them all!
The following day we had a monthly meeting with our Archdiocesan Priests’ Council, and Saturday I met with our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. There are several archdiocesan consultative bodies, and I truly appreciate the good counsel I receive from each of them. In many ways, the synodal process initiated this month by Pope Francis is already present in the Archdiocese of Seattle. I meet regularly with these consultative bodies, the majority of members of which are laity. For example, we have a Finance Council, Pastoral Council, Priest Council, Review Board, Personnel Board, and at the chancery, the Leadership Team, each of them are there precisely to give counsel and advice to the Archbishop about the life and mission of this local church. We are blessed with many wise and faithful lay leaders as well as good priests.
After the Pastoral Council meeting I celebrated Confirmation at Holy Family in Kirkland and then traveled to Bellingham for dinner with our two pastors there. On Sunday, I joined the people at Assumption parish for two morning Masses to help them celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of their church. We truly are a sacramental Church!
After spending a few days in the office catching up on correspondence and a few meetings, I was happy to get back out on the road again, but not before a day off. On Friday, I harvested the beets from my garden and canned 11 pints! Few things help me recreate like spending time in nature, and having a garden this summer, has been another blessing, to say nothing about enjoying the great taste of home grown produce! Working in the garden and cooking keep me grounded in the natural cycles and the holy order of God’s creation. My next day off I hope to harvest the basil and make a batch of fresh pesto!
Last weekend allowed for several stops to preach the Gospel and celebrate the faith. Saturday morning I was once again at Vietnamese Martyrs parish in Tukwila for the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross. These Vietnamese sisters are so joyful, and I know they are very dedicated to serving our people in various ministries. Consecrated women give such a witness of faith to the broader church, which is often overlooked and under appreciated. The graces achieved for the good of the church through one such life is hard to estimate, let alone the many good and virtuous deeds that help people grow in their faith.
Heartfelt thanks to the Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross and to all our consecrated men and women!
After Mass I met one of our permanent deacons at the Retreat Center and he drove me to Mary, Star of the Sea parish in Port Townsend for Confirmation. I know many of our parishes only see the bishops when there is a Confirmation, but we are still grateful for each of those visits and celebrations! At the end of Mass, I received a beautiful blessing from the people, which was quite memorable and moving. Thank you!
We made our way back to the retreat center that evening, where I spent the night. There was a group of 35 or so young adults on retreat, and I joined them for Mass in the morning. After Mass I had the opportunity to visit with several of them, to hear a little about what they were experiencing in their lives. Such a privilege to pray with people about their faith journey as they seek to better understand the ways and will of God in their life. It is always inspiring to see young people so dedicated to living their faith.
The grand finale of the week was the Mass at St. James Cathedral Sunday evening opening the Diocesan Phase of the Universal Synod convoked by Pope Francis. I already posted the homily and video from this celebration, and you can find it here. Stay up to date with these resources.
A Universal Synod in the Church is a big deal! During Mass that evening, I had a powerful sense of being connected in a profoundly spiritual way with the entire, universal Church. I wish to share this as well. For nearly 30 years, I have said a simple prayer before the Gospel is proclaimed at Mass each day: “Come Holy Spirit, renew your Church and inspire those who preach your Gospel.” I truly believe God is answering that prayer at this time!
Please pray for this Synod, and look for ways in which you can participate in the conversation which begins now. Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak through our dialogue about our life and experience of being Church, that we may better understand how we are to carry out the mission of the Church today.
God bless, and keep living the faith!