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Holy Cross Church – July 27, 2015
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11
Romans 12: 10-21
John 14: 1-14

With Tommy’s parents, Betty and Jerry, his sister Diane, her
husband John, his brother Joe and Tommy’s nieces Mary Kate,
Nikki and Chloe, his nephew Connor we come together in Holy
Cross Church today to express our gratitude to God for giving us
this wonderful son, brother, uncle, friend and child of God who was
at the depths of his heart a dedicated Marine.
United in our grief at Tommy’s tragic death, we ponder the question
“why.” Why did this happen to Tommy, his fellow Marines, Staff
Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire Wells
and Navy petty officer Randall Smith, good men who sought to
serve their country in a most honorable way?

The outpouring of support that has come from the
people of Springfield and our Western Massachusetts area has
shown us how much Tommy’s life and his fellow servicemen’s lives
mean to all of us who benefit from their ultimate sacrifice.
Another man who questioned the presence of evil and death in
our world was the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, whose name
was Quoheleth. We know little about him, except for his writing
that made its way to be part of Sacred Scripture, our first reading
today. His words about the changing of seasons, the times of life,
both good and bad, are the most well-known of anything he wrote.
These words of deep thought reflect on the inevitabilities of life, the
many changes that surround us and yet the one constant that
Tommy knew so well in his life, that God’s love and presence never
changes.

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His deep love for his family, his selfless dedication to
being a Marine and his solid faith in God helped Tommy through
the many challenges that he faced in training for service, in his
deployments to Iraq, in being a leader for his fellow Marines and
facing the danger on July 16th, when he and his brothers in service
heroically thought of others above themselves.

In a world that can be so fickle, the timeless values that Tommy espoused and lived as a Marine show forth true courage, selflessness and ultimate concern for others.
It is here that we find the depth of love lived as a reality that continues to inspire each one of us, as it inspired Tommy in his life of service for others.
When St. Paul wrote to the people of Rome, he wanted to encourage
them as they encountered persecution. But Paul’s words do not
speak of revenge, rather, they speak of allowing love to conquer
even the hatred of enemies. Today, perhaps, it is easy to desire
revenge and yet that would not pay full tribute to Tommy’s life and
the lives of those who died with him.

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A Marine is the epitome of strength and St. Paul tells us that the greatest strength we have as people of God is love. Like Jesus’ teachings, Paul’s words may confound the wisdom of this world, but they ask from us the strength to love in situations like this when hate seems to triumph.

Not an easy thing to do, but Tommy shows us how much of a
difference a person’s life makes when self-sacrificing love is lived to
its fullest. St. Paul’s wisdom lies in recognizing that real strength is
based in love, not in hate.

In today’s scene from John’s Gospel, Jesus is gathered with
His disciples at a very difficult time. They are moving to Jerusalem,
where Jesus will ultimately face his own death. There is a sense of
anxiety among the Apostles, not knowing what will happen once
they reach Jerusalem. Yet, Jesus’ own words bring a sense of calm
to this troubled situation. “Have faith in God and have faith in me,”
Jesus tells them, giving them words of comfort and hope at a time
of much confusion and questioning. These words are also meant for
all of us who gather here to mourn for Tommy. For Jesus knows the
sadness of heart that we feel this day and is present with us in this
Mass. He is present to us as we seek His comfort in the depth of our
sorrow and pain.

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Tommy lived his life knowing those words of Jesus spoken to
the apostle Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life”
through his service here as an altar server, a student at Holy Cross
School and Cathedral High School.

He knew those words as he basked in the love of Betty and Jerry, of
Diane and Joe, of his family and friends who knew his wonderful
sense of humor and felt the love that he has for them. Tommy knew
those words as he left Springfield to join the Marines, in an
adventure that he found so satisfying and rewarding by serving our
country.

And Tommy lived believing in Jesus’ words knowing that
we are created not for just the finite time we have here on earth, but
that we are called to be with God forever. It is this faith that brings
us here today, to thank God for dedicated men and women who are
inspired as Tommy was, to live lives of service for all of humanity.
As a follower of Jesus, Tommy knew the strength of faith that made
him an exemplary Marine, a leader and a man of true courage. He
leaves with us a legacy that will be forever cherished.

Today, we ask God to welcome this hero to his Eternal reward, for he literally
gave his life for others. The greatest tribute we can give to Tommy
is to emulate the faith and values that he lived and thanking God
for allowing us to witness the goodness that Tommy has brought to
this world, a light that no darkness can overcome.

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Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield, MA

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Editor’s note: Catholic Communications has gone to summer camp. This week we sent a crew to produce a feature about Camp Holy Cross for “Real to Reel.” We also taped a Mass for the Chalice of Salvation. It will air August 9th at 10 a.m. I went along and was super impressed. The following is my reflection and some photos shared by the camp.

By Peggy Weber
Photos courtesy of Camp Holy Cross

I never went to summer camp. In fact, I am not a big “outdoorsy” kind of person. But I would love to go to Camp Holy Cross.

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Under the direction of Father Chris Malatesta this scenic and peaceful place in Goshen inspires!
Father Chris works with many capable people to run various camps and activities.

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He is assisted by Father David Aufiero, parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Parish in Northampton. It is clear that they both enjoy working with young people and the camp.

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And it is clear that the kids have fun at this camp! Activities are designed to create community, build skills and have a good time.

No one is texting or playing a video game. In fact, all electronic devices are collected at the start of camp.

Campers pitch in to clean tables, serve food, lead grace and help out.

They also pray. They have Masses outdoors or in the camp chapel each day.

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I attended a Mass where Father Dave spoke about living out one’s faith. The campers eagerly volunteered to do readings and joined in with their own petitions with great sincerity.

They prayed for their pets, for their parents, for soldiers and for anyone who was sad.

Father Chris told us how they had a pasta meal one night where no one used utensils. He says he joins in the fun.

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Campers come from all over the diocese. Some are sponsored by their parish or others and get a taste of the great outdoors that is different from city or even suburban life.

In our world, where there is so much bad news and so much concern for young people, Camp Holy Cross shines as brightly as its campfire and really makes a difference!

For more information about Camp Holy Cross go to http://www.campholycross.org/

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A Refection on the Life and Death of Anna A. Morin
By Julie Beaulieu

In Wladyslowow Poland, February 20, 1924, Anna made a frightening journey through the darkness of her mother Olga’s womb, into the unknown. This new world is traumatic and frightening to any newborn baby, who is helpless and completely innocent. In 1924, Anna began her journey in this life.
Anna’s family owned a large farm in Poland where she grew up with her older brother John, younger brother Karl and sister Herta. She loved nature and was a joyful young girl.
As Anna grew into her teen years, World War II began. Germany occupied her section of Poland. She was torn from her family and forced to go to Germany and work. Not knowing any German, Anna attended night school. This is where she met another Polish girl, Lydia. Lydia would later become Anna’s sister-in-law.
Despite nightly air raids and the other cruelties of war, Anna got a job working for the railroad, and she recalled these days as some of the happiest in her life.
Anna’s journey took her to yet another foreign country where she had to learn yet a third language. She said, “I did it because I had to.” Her first marriage to Mitchell Paradzinski produced two children, Irene and Paul, whom she loved dearly. Sadly, her marriage ended in divorce and her journey took her to a sadder place, that of a single, working mom in the 1950’s. Anna struggled during these times when she also met shame and social prejudice.
In 1965, Anna married Leo Morin, a French-Canadian drunk who took advantage of her and later deserted her. Around the same time, her son-in-law, Louis, was drafted and sent to serve in Vietnam. These were tumultuous times for not only Anna, but mostly everyone.

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After another war of fear, darkness and death came 1970, and in 1970 the brightest light in Anna’s life was born, her first and only grandchild.
As a child, I remember cuddling up to her soft and gentle skin, the smell of her Polish cooking, the touch of the clothing she made for me. Her house was always a safe place in which I felt loved and secure.
My grandmother was my biggest fan. She went to every dance recital, choral performance, cheerleading competition, high school play, college play, and became a faithful viewer of, “Real to Reel.” She watched it every week, whether I was on or not. When I asked why, she said, “I get to see your name at the end in the credits.”
Anna battled cancer three different times in her life; first, in her nasal passages, second, in her left breast, and lastly, in her uterus, each time with much bravery and courage.
After retiring, she returned to Germany four times to visit her family.
She loved good food, a good joke, but most of all, she loved to shop.
In 2008, Anna was diagnosed with vascular dementia, a tough blow for both her and her family. This was the start of a long road leading deeper and deeper into darkness and confusion. The dementia lead to her needing 24/7 care and she entered a nursing home in 2012.

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Later in life, Anna’s greatest wish was to become a great-grandmother. She lived to see Viola Anna D’Angelo born in Oct. of 2013.
The last year of her life, Anna came up against the blackness of cancer for the final time. In the end, Anna had to be diapered, fed, washed and carried. Her family never left her side and she fought until the very end. She lived to hear Viola’s laugh, the sound of my voice saying grandma, and the simple touches of her family each holding her hand and stroking her white hair.
In the early hours of May 3, 2015, she fought for her life with her son at her side. She once again journeyed down a dark tunnel, uncertain and afraid, only to find eternal light, everlasting love and perpetual bliss.

To watch a video tribute to my grandmother click on this link:
http://videos.lifetributes.com/593163

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By Peggy Weber
Photos courtesy of Don Wielgus

The power of prayer and the love of the Blessed Mother were in evidence in Westfield on May 17th.
The combined Rosary Sodalities of Holy Trinity Parish, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, St. Mary Parish and St. Peter and St. Casimir Parish gathered for a Communion Breakfast and social.

However, the event was much more than delicious scrambled eggs and a chance to connect with friends.

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The morning began with about 114 women gathering in Holy Trinity Church for a recitation of the rosary. LaSalette Father Lukasz Krzanowski led the group in the opening and closing prayers and the proclaiming of the glorious mysteries. The presidents of each parish sodality recited the decades. It was a wonderful example of unity and faith.

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LaSalette Father Rene Parent celebrated the liturgy and welcomed the women. It was an impressive sight to see so many faith-filled ladies gathered in their Sunday best for prayer.

A breakfast was served in the Holy Trinity Parish Hall by the men of the Holy Name Society of the parish and some great teen volunteers.

Schoenstatt Sister M. Barbara Ebbe, who was stationed in Westfield for many years, was in attendance. She is moving from Nebraska to Staten Island, N.Y. and re-connected with many people.

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Father William Wallis, pastor of St. Peter and St. Casimir Parish, joined the community after celebrating First Communions in his parish.

I joined the women because I was asked to speak at the breakfast. I felt so welcomed and so at home with so many good and kind people.

I spoke about the many names of the Blessed Mother and how they can inspire and teach us.

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I left the day filled with enthusiasm and hope. These women are truly the backbone of many parishes. They are so devout and good and really care about their faith and their parishes.

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They also are smart. They recognize the importance of cooperation and community. I was told the breakfast was sold out and the women hope to hold another one next year. Truly, the group sees how good it is when women come together in honor of Mary.

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This was really a joyous day!

Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession at start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

By Brian & Ann Kolek, a Worldwide Marriage Encounter couple.

Globalization of Indifference is at the heart of Pope Francis’ Lenten
message, in which he urges us all to fight individualism with merciful
hearts that are more attentive to the needs of others.

Often times, when we live a healthy and comfortable lifestyle, we forget about
others. We are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the
injustices they may be enduring – our hearts grow cold. Yet God does not
forget about us, he is not indifferent to our world. He so loves it that he gave
his Son for our salvation.

Lent is a time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more
like him and serve others. This happens whenever we hear the word of God
and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what
we receive: the Body of Christ. And whoever is of Christ, belongs to this One
Body, and in this One Body, we cannot be indifferent to any part of it.

In Marriage Encounter we refer to our marriage as a Little Church. Jesus
resides in our Little Church. Our spouse, Christ and we share in this One Body.
1 Corinthians 12:26 says: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one
part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

Holy Thursday, with its rite of washing of the feet, is a beautiful example of
how Christ wishes us to serve him by serving one another. It requires us to
humble ourselves to wash the feet of others, including those to whom we are
indifferent. But we must also humble ourselves and allow others to wash our
own feet.

PRIEST WASHES FEET OF MAN DRESSED AS APOSTLE ON HOLY THURSDAY AT PANAMA CHURCH

In my relationship with Brian, I’m guilty of indifference in our union in this
shared “One Body”. His difficult days at work are his; I’ve got my own to deal
with. His responsibilities around the home are his; again, I’ve got my own to
take care of. If he’s awoken at night with indigestion, it’s his own fault for
eating that rich meal too late in the day. If I think I’ve done my share and I’ve
got my act together, Brian needs to step up and catch up. In these moments,
I’m not humble by any means; I’m not washing Brian’s feet.

But Brian is a part of my body in this shared Body of Christ. I should no sooner
neglect a problem with a part of my own body than I should neglect Brian
when he’s feeling injured or wounded. If he is suffering and I don’t offer care,
then I suffer along with him.

But I must also humble myself and allow Brian to care for me as well. Being
too proud to ask for his help or brushing it aside when he offers is not
allowing him to have joy, which in turn denies joy to myself and our shared
body. In my times of need, I must open my heart and allow Brian to wash my
feet.

“The opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not
ugliness – it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy – it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death – it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel (author, activist, winner of 1986 Nobel Peace Prize)

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“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

Our dialogue question is: In what ways am I indifferent and neglect to wash
your feet?

For more information about Worldwide Marriage Encounter log onto: http://wwmema.org/

Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service.

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Spanning an approximate 100 degree temperature difference, a team of high school students from Mary, Mother of Hope Parish in Springfield and St. Mary’s Parish in Longmeadow, along with Sister of St. Joseph Eunice Tassone and Fr. Matt Alcombright, journeyed from the blustery cold of New England to the warm Caribbean climate of Haiti. The journey was not meant for the group to bathe in a bit of warmer weather for their winter break from school but one of service and mission. The 10 students journeyed with the “Haiti Plunge” program to work with and serve the people in the mountain regions of Haiti.

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Driving from the Port au Prince Airport to the mountains of Haiti is always an experience of profound humility and amazement. Coming from a world that has everything at its fingertips to a world that visibly struggles to meet any daily necessity or want takes its toll quite quickly. Once at our destination the group takes time to unpack and use the remainder of the day to acclimate and get settled in to the work that awaits. We share our first simple meal together of rice and beans and following the meal gather for prayer and for Mass. Beginning with the Mass and receiving the Eucharist remind everyone of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest of people.” (CCC, 1397) That “daily bread” of which we partook each night reminded us and committed us to the real mission of this group and that was to be committed to the service of our brothers and sisters in need.

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Falling asleep to the sounds of crickets singing was only second best to the sounds that we heard most nights coming from the local church where the local community would gather to sing, pray and give thanks to God for all that they have — even though to us the seemingly little that they have. It’s a reminder of Pope Francis’ reflection at the beginning of his Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel): “I can say the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in the poor people who had little to hold on to.” (EG, 7) One of the opportunities we had was to attend part of their Sunday Worship which the community, the entire community, gathers to read Scripture, sing, pray, preach and reflect for approximately 5-6 hours in pure thanksgiving to God for the blessings that He has poured out upon them.

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This is a truest and most profound sense of joy we saw during the journey. Sydney Walt, a junior at Longmeadow High School and parishioner of St. Mary’s in Longmeadow reflected saying “Every year I realize that the Haitians teach me more than I could ever teach them. They made me realize that there is so much more to life than material things. Family and God are huge parts of their lives, and I think it’s important for us to realize that because we have more resources, that gives us more of a reason to praise God every day and love our families.”
One of the tasks entrusted to the team was to teach and to do educational assessments for the children in the village of Tima. The team worked one on one with the children to assess the needs of each child and gauge an appropriate educational grade level based on the student’s knowledge of numbers, letters, shapes and writing abilities. This is such an essential part of the team’s work because education is not something that is offered to all but something that each family must pay for and, because of that, something which most families cannot afford and are not able to educate the children but will try to do anything possible to make that happen.

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Emily Coughlin, a junior at Longmeadow High School and a parishioner at St. Mary’s in Longmeadow says “This trip has made me more grateful for my education, my opportunities, and especially my family. Seeing all the children in the school in Tima I realized how grateful I am for having two parents who love me and would do anything for me. The children in the schools prove how their families do everything for them to have the best life possible and how I take my family and my education for granted.”

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One of the other major tasks of the team was to design, construct and implement a raised garden project. The raised gardens are meant to be a way to empower the women of the villages to grow, harvest and sell crops that can be grown right next door to their home. The gardens are raised due to our biggest enemy, goats and cows. The team constructed the beds to stand approximately 5 feet tall inhibiting animals from grazing. Once the team constructed the first “demo” bed it was time to fill it with soil and educate the women from the surrounding villages on gardening techniques such as planting, caring for crops and composting. This is another essential part of each teams mission…to provide opportunities for sustainable development and progress to take place after the teams have left.

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The journey to Haiti was one of great joy and service. The team always manages to take home much more than they went with. While the team is ready to return home there was no sense of “homesickness” because we are always made to feel like family. Anna MacDonald, a junior at Longmeadow High School and a parishioner from St. Mary’s in Longmeadow reflects “It was hard to be homesick, as we were surrounded by people who so willingly took us in and treated us like their family. It was enlightening to see the pride of the Haitians as they showed us around the houses, churches, or schools that they have built because they are so grateful for the little that they have.”

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It is truly from the little that the people of Haiti have that they are able to give so much of themselves first and foremost to God but also in service and love to God’s people. Megan Senecal, a junior at South Hadley High School and a parishioner at Mary, Mother of Hope Church sums up this journey “Haiti is a beautiful country, and traveling there opened my eyes. It made me more appreciative for my education and the all the things I have in my life.” It seems as though while using Pope Francis to reflect on the needs of our brothers and sisters this team truly took on the call of St. Francis of Assisi… “Make me an instrument of your peace…for it is in giving that we receive.”

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The following remarks were delivered by Jeremiah Begley, faculty member and adviser of the St. Thomas Aquinas chapter of the National Honor Society at Cathedral High School. He offered this reflection at the annual induction ceremony at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield.

Just a few hundred yards that way is the Springfield Armory. And the Springfield Armory isn’t much used any more, but it’s extremely significant because in the 1780s there was a farmer named Daniel Shays. And Daniel Shays had some financial problems and these financial problems were exacerbated by, basically, the political structure which was in place at that time – the Articles of Confederation. And Daniel Shays rounded up a group of his fellow Massachusetts farmers , and they made an attack on the Springfield Armory, which thankfully was repulsed. But it was a near-thing. And you can tell how near of a thing it was if you read the Federalist Papers – Hamilton and Madison and Jay’s wonderful arguments for the adoption of a new constitution in New York state. And every single one of those 85 Federalist Papers – it’s almost palpable. You can feel the urgency of how much of a crisis Shays’ Rebellion was, how untenable the Articles of Confederation were, and how much something new needed to happen.

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And I bring this up, first of all, because it is a local connection, but also because Hamilton and Madison and Jay were a part of a founding generation. And we’re in a very similar position right now. I want to take the time again to welcome our guests from Holyoke Catholic High School who have joined us this evening. Thank you so much for being here. And we at Cathedral are so excited to work together because we recognize that we, all of us, together, are also part of a founding generation. We’re the founding generation of what is to be a new high school – a new chapter, a new era in Catholic secondary education in this city, in this county, in this diocese.
And I think it is interesting because a founding generation is a tricky thing. It’s not something you chose. The founders of our country did not choose to be born at that particular time to weather such a crisis as Shays’ Rebellion and the related things that happened. It was thrust upon them, and they rose to the occasion.

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Being in a founding generation is not something that is comfortable. It’s not something where you switch on the cruise control and coast. It’s something that requires something from all of us and a lot from a few of us.
And you students in particular, you didn’t choose to be part of the group that had to be in Wilbraham for most or all of your tenure. You didn’t choose that. It was thrust upon you. But I am so proud of you because you have risen to the occasion. And I commend you for that.
But as much as being part of a founding generation is not something that one chooses, and it’s not a path to comfort, I can think of no better way to receive an education than to be a member of a founding generation. Fifty years from now, all of you students will still remember and still recount the roles you each played in this new era. You will never forget what you are about to do in the next few years and neither will we.
Thank you so much. God bless you and may God continue to bless this wonderful community.

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The following is the statement by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski regarding the plans for secondary education and the Diocese of Springfield.

Today I am happy to share with you the plan which emerged from our recent facilitated process regarding the challenges we face with sustaining Catholic secondary education.
As you know in November at my request an expedited facilitated dialogue process trying to resolve the many questions and concerns regarding Cathedral was undertaken. In late January, over two days at the Genesis Spiritual Life Center, all issues and challenges were put on the table. After much conversation, and after looking at many options, the plan which emerged as the only one which met our objectives was to engage the Holyoke Catholic community and pursue the creation of a new regional Catholic High School.
Bringing together two great legacies as a new school for what would be an exciting new chapter in Catholic education here in western Massachusetts.
As soon as that proposal came forth, seeing there were no delegated members of the Holyoke Catholic community at the problem solving session to represent their concerns, all discussion of any particulars was set aside. This includes any designation for the site of a new regional school.
I have since met personally with both schools’ boards, as well as with the Diocesan School Board and Finance Council. They have all been supportive of the plan in general terms but understand there are many miles to go in making this a reality. I have assured them that the process of creating this new school will include input from all parties.
I want to stress that no details, other than the concept of a new regional school, have been decided. Today I am presenting this plan at the 35 thousand foot level, there will be much work ahead to manage all the details and bring this in for a safe and successful landing.
In order to get this process started I have asked Dr. Paul Gagliarducci, former superintendent of schools for both Somers, CT and the Hampden/Wilbraham Regional School district, to chair this new Catholic Secondary Education Initiative.
He will be aided by a board which will be named in the coming weeks. Dr. Gagliarducci participated in the problem solving sessions and was very helpful. Most importantly he has background working with constituency groups and building new academic facilities.
Assisting him will be the educational consultants Partners in Mission. They will help with developing marketing and development strategies for the new school. Partners comes to us as a known and successful entity, having provided invaluable help to St Michael’s Academy in recent years.
Among the many early questions that must be addressed is the eventual site for the new school. The current short term goal would be to bring together the student bodies by the fall of 2016. As for the permanent site I have encouraged them to look at all possible sites certainly including the Surrey Road location. This will include a demographic analysis as to the best possible location in light of what is available on the diocesan inventory and if deemed necessary elsewhere.
In recent weeks I have contemplated and prayed over this decision quite a bit. I have recalled that throughout the history of our Church, our ability to change and adapt has been central to our mission of spreading the Good News.
While I am very excited about the possibilities this plan offers, at the same time I recognize that this new entity will mean some sacrifices and a sense of loss on behalf of both the Holyoke Catholic and Cathedral communities.
To this I hope we can take a lesson from the first Sisters of St Joseph who came to our diocese from New York and started the first Cathedral High School in a few rooms above the Cathedral Main Altar in 1883. They left behind what was comfortable and known to them, for that which was uncertain. They took a leap of faith and for over 130 years that mission has continued.
So today we have every reason to be hopeful as we embark on this new journey together. Of course the eventual long-term success of this new school or any of our Catholic schools lies with parents who will choose a Catholic education for their children and to our faithful alumni who support these school. I believe we have been guided in faith on a path which is sustainable.

St. Valentine pictured in stained-glass window at basilica in Terni, Italy

By Brian and Ann Kolek
Worldwide Marriage Encounter

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a lovely little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare life threatening disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had somehow survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

GIRL MAKES VALENTINE'S DAY CRAFT ITEM IN CHICAGO

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. We’ve all been there, trying to find the perfect Hallmark card that will express our feelings for our spouse on this holiday. We’ve all gone to expensive restaurants or boxed up what we thought would be a perfect gift to express our love for them. After all, in our materialistic society, things are supposed to make us happy, and therefore, must make our spouse happy. Did we really succeed in these past efforts to show our love? Did our spouse truly feel our love and were they happier because of the things we gave them? The world around us teaches us to focus on ourselves: our appearance, our feelings and our desires. We’re taught to take care of ourselves first. The goal it seems is to chase the highest level of happiness for ourselves. Everyone deserves to be happy, right? But what if we believed it was our responsibility to get our spouse into Heaven? How very counter cultural is the idea that we make ourselves responsible for the happiness of our spouse. In reality, whatever we put our energy into becomes most important to us. What if our spouse became the recipient of all our energy?

Engaged woman holds flowers and chocolates during audience for engaged couples in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Married couples who enjoy the full purpose of marriage are the ones who are bent on taking care of the other flawed person God gave them to share life with. Choosing to love our spouse selflessly causes us to say no to what we want so we can say yes to what they need. When we place our spouse and their needs above our own, we get to lose ourselves to the greater purpose of marriage. It doesn’t mean we can never experience happiness again because love always leads to joy. We’ve all experienced a time when we put someone else first; we weren’t trying to be noble, we simply saw something that needed to be done and we did it. And every time we’ve behaved that way weren’t we rewarded with peacefulness and happiness we didn’t expect. 1 Corinthians 13:5 – Love does not seek its own interests.

We should ask ourselves these questions: • Do I truly want what’s best for my spouse? • Do I want them to feel loved by me? • Do they believe I have their best interests in mind? • Do they see me as looking out for myself first? If we find it hard to sacrifice our own desires to benefit our spouse, we may have a deeper problem with selfishness than we want to admit. Whether we like it or not, we have a reputation in the eyes of the people around us, especially our spouse. Is ours a selfless reputation?

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The Sun Never Says
Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

Dialogue Question What barriers do I face in loving my spouse selflessly? How do I feel about my answers?

For more information about Worldwide Marriage Encounter log onto: http://wwmema.org/

Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service.

HOLYOKE BAT WAVE

Editor’s note: The following is the homily from the Vigil Prayer Service for Bishop Joseph Maguire by Msgr. Christoper D. Connelly, vicar of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield.

“Your friend in Christ, Joseph F. Maguire, Bishop of Springfield.” With those words, the good man, the holy priest, and the endearing prelate we now remember concluded every official correspondence. So it is in a spirit of friendship, led by our bishops tonight, that we pray with the Maguire, Waystack, and Banks family. In this Cathedral church all are assured by the words Jesus spoke as he gathered at night with his disciples: “I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.” (John 15:15)

The month of November which comes to conclusion in a few hours is significant in the life of the Church. It begins with the Solemnity of All Saints followed by the Commemoration of All the Souls of the Faithful Departed. For our nation, it is the month we especially honor veterans and it is a time for Thanksgiving. November is also the month that Joseph Francis Maguire was installed in 1977 as the Fifth Bishop of Springfield, and in November, just one week ago tonight on the Solemnity of Christ the King, providentially the final Sunday of the liturgical year, Bishop Maguire’s deepest longings were brought to peaceful fulfillment.

So many have said with both sadness and admiration: “It is the end of an era.”
In many ways for the Church of Boston, for the Church of Springfield, for the Church Universal, it is. Consider for a moment the numbers that comprise his remarkable era: born in 1919; a member of the high school class of 1937, St. Columbkille’s School in Brighton; a scholar, athlete, and proud graduate of Boston College 73 years ago; ordained to the priesthood by his legendary mentor Archbishop Richard Cushing in 1945, and now 69 years later the longest serving priest in the Diocese of Springfield; a bishop since 1972, he was our bishop for 15 years, Bishop Emeritus even longer, 22 years; and at 95 years of age, the 4th oldest bishop in the United States, the 30th oldest bishop in the world.

WITH SISTER 1983

With humility, but also with a smile, he often would say, “I’ve been around an awfully long time.”

Never one to draw attention, accolades, or honors toward his direction, he believed every person is sacred, and everyone deserves reverence. Many years ago his close collaborator and treasured colleague, Bishop Leo O’Neil, paid tribute to him in a homily, reminding each listener that he’s a man who prides himself in one title only, “I am Joseph, your brother.” (Genesis 45:4)

Last year at the conclusion of the Year of Faith, also occurring on the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis shared with the world his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. The Holy Father noted: “If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances not withstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love.” The Pope concluded: “Consequently, if I can help one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfillment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names.” (274)

1986 KIDS POSE ALTAR STEPS

The Scriptures highlight the significance, the blessing, of being called by name. Gifted with a masterful memory, a keen intellect, and a gracious demeanor, Bishop Maguire knew well the sacredness of calling each person by name. It was one of the many ways he showed pastoral sensitivity, a gentle reminder that he was “your friend in Christ.” His authentic ministry ensured that people of every shape, color, economic status, and background were equally welcome in a church he loved and served so ardently. He was aware that ours is a big-wide Church, where sometimes there are problems. He once wrote: “How well we know the concerns of today’s Church – with its awesome promise and potential, and yes, with the anguish of our weakness and human frailty.” He was also aware that ours is a big-wide world where often there are disagreements. But through it all, he taught what he quietly professed all along: “Nothing is impossible with God.”
(Episcopal motto, Luke 1:37)

Personal calls, notes, visits, were reassuring reminders that a good shepherd, with a generous heart, never leaves a flock untended. He lived the words of our reading from St. Paul: “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.” (Philippians 4:4-5) He never missed an opportunity to express gratitude to his brother priests, and he was the first to ordain permanent deacons in this diocese. His appreciation for women and men religious was obvious. In particular, for three decades on Elliot Street, Sister Patricia Francis, SSJ, was the capable administrator of the Bishop’s House. Armed with an iron and meticulous in pressing and folding, Sr. Patricia made sure her bishop looked every bit as good on the outside as she knew him to be on his inside.

It’s hard to imagine a more versatile Churchman. Bishop Maguire could talk hockey with a jittery groom before a wedding, sing a few Broadway tunes at an Over 60 Club gathering, and at 90 years of age, keep young people’s interest while giving a Confirmation homily. The late author and humorist Erma Bombeck wrote: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single talent left and could say to the Lord: I used everything that you gave me.”

HOLDING UMBRELLA WATCH GAME

Allow me to share a couple of short stories. I’ll be quick, mindful that several years ago on a ride back from a priest’s funeral, Bishop Maguire said to me: “When my time comes, I’d like you to give the talk the night before.” He then added: “With you up there, things will be sure to move right along.”

He was invited to an elementary school one December to read a story to several of the younger grades. It was a Christmas story, and watching the scene of young people piling around the gentle man, the image of the Nazarene storyteller after whom he modeled his whole life was captured in the moment: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt.19:14) To the adults and teachers watching what seemed like a move by the bishop to settle down his eager audience was really his own mischievous, hilarious way to get things rolling. He said to the students, “I’m going to start with a song and if some of the words get mixed up, just tell me, and I’ll begin again.” So began his rendition of Rudolph, the BLUE Nosed Reindeer. Some may still be hesitant to correct a bishop, second graders were not.

09-18-1980 BIG E CAROUSEL LITTLE GIRL

Bishop Maguire began the tradition at the Cathedral of distributing candy canes at the conclusion of the televised Christmas Mass. Those watching may have thought it was a savvy move because of television. It was rather just the kindness of a thoroughly good man, the same man who brought muffins with him to the doctor’s office for the nurses, chocolate bars for the bank tellers, and the best one of all: before the invention of the fast lane transponder on the Turnpike, he was coming home from one of his many cherished visits at the Cape with Grace, his only sibling who loved him the longest, the best, and the most. When he got to the Springfield exit, sensing the toll collector had a long shift that day, he handed her the ticket, the toll money, and a banana. St. Paul was right: “Your kindness should be known to all.” (Philippians 4:5)

Tonight, in the presence of the Lord who calls us friends, the Advent season invites us to quiet joy and deep peace as we gather around the Lord’s faithful servant who befriended us all, and whose prayerful waiting has been brought to fulfillment. Loved by his family, cared for by his nurses, and strengthened in the sacraments by his bishops, he goes home to the Lord, to family and friends above, and to Mary, our Blessed Mother and Queen of the Clergy.

To conclude as he so often did: “Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine said, ‘He has left life, but not my life. How can he be said to have died who lives in my heart?’” How indeed can Bishop Joseph be said to have died when we know that he lives in our hearts, our Church, and forever in our prayers.

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