Where are you going?
“Quo Vadis” is the Latin phrase for “Where are you going?” Legend tells us that St. Peter asked Jesus this question on the outskirts of Rome. And we know where Jesus went in response to His Father’s will.
Quo Vadis Days is a 3-day camp for young Catholic men to learn more about the priesthood, to deepen their faith, and to better discern God’s call in their lives.
What is the Father’s will for me? How can I know what God wants?
Quo Vadis Days is a camp experience sponsored by the Diocese of Yakima Vocations Office to provide a time of fun, prayer, and talks to help you explore the Lord’s call in your life.
There will be priests, seminarians, and other young men like you gathered for these days. Our activities will include prayer, swimming, soccer, games, talks and discussions.
We hope that you will consider taking time to discern the Lord’s will in your life with us at QV Days. It is a great opportunity to let the Lord speak to you and to spend time listening to Him.
The number of participants is limited to 70 young men, so call or register soon!
Quo Vadis Days 2017
When: The camp opens on Monday, July 31st at 12:00pm and concludes after lunch at 1:30 pm on Wednesday August 2nd.
Where: Koinonia Camp is located near Cle Elum WA, approximately a 75-minute drive from Yakima. The Camp has opportunities for Frisbee, soccer and swimming.
Bus Transportation to and from the camp will be available. After you register, someone will contact you with information about pick-up and drop off.
Cost: $50 per camper. Scholarships are available. The Family rate is $50 for the first camper, $25 for his brother/brothers.
Staff: Seminarians and Priests of the Diocese.
April 26, 2017
WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the announcement by the Democratic National Committee’s chair pledging support only for pro-abortion candidates. Calling the pledge “very disturbing,” Cardinal Dolan urged party members to “challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”
Full statement follows:
“The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat – indeed to be an American – requires supporting that extreme agenda.
True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn’t empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion.
In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-‘choice’ Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”
"Yo soy tu Dios" (Isaías 41:10) es el tema del XVIII Congreso Católico Hispano de Evangelización programado para el 28-30 de abril en el Valle de Yakima en el SunDome. (Haz clic aqui para leer el horario)
Se espera que más de 5,000 personas se unan a este evento anual gratuito que comenzará el viernes, 28 de abril con un concierto de música de alabanzas y una Misa de Sanación. Los cantantes de alabanzas incluirán a Los Búhos de Mexicali, B.C., México.
El sábado, habrá más música de alabanza y talleres por el Obispo Joseph J. Tyson; Padre Jaime Chacón, consejero espiritual del Congreso Católico; Fray Rafael Guzmán Gabriel de Bolivia y Winston Castro, misionero. El sábado también incluirá una hora santa antes del Santísimo Sacramento. El domingo, el Obispo Tyson será el celebrante principal para una Misa concluyente.
El Congreso Hispano Católico comenzó en 1999 con un pequeño grupo de feligreses del Grupo de Oración Carismática de la Iglesia Católica St. Joseph Grupo Rios de Agua Viva en Yakima. Desde entonces, el Congreso ha crecido hasta convertirse en un medio de formación para la comunidad Hispana Católica. Varios Grupos de Oración Carismática de las parroquias de la Diócesis de Yakima han estado involucrados en este evento anual, dando su "grano de arena" y trabajo duro para el bien común de las familias del área, dicen los organizadores.
El Congreso se ha sostenido en estos últimos 17 años a través de muchas recaudaciones de fondos y generosas donaciones recibidas, con el propósito de continuar la evangelización del pueblo de Dios.
El Papa Juan Pablo II indico a los católicos a no tener miedo, a salir a las profundidades y proclamar la luz de Cristo al mundo, utilizando todos los medios modernos. Como administradores, nuestra misión es hacer eso y ayudar a otros a descubrir su relación personal con el Padre, el Hijo y el Espíritu Santo, dicen los organizadores del Congreso.
Aunque el Congreso será en español, ¡todo el mundo puede asistir! Para más información llame al (509) 307-1299.
Dying and Rising with Jesus
Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Peace be with you! We hear these profound words of St. Paul to the Romans: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” What might these mean?
In a few short moments we will witness the immersion of those joining the Church into the waters of baptism. In the ancient Church, the baptistery was seen as a kind of “tomb” or sepulcher. Yet rather than dirt burying the body, in baptism the body is buried in water. The person entering this tomb of baptism is thought to be “dying” to an old way of life and “rising” with Jesus to a new way of life.
As Christians gathered at this Easter Vigil we believe what was true for St. Paul and this early Church in Rome to which he addressed his letter in tonight’s second reading is also true for us tonight for those we baptize. We believe it’s true for each and every one of us too as we renew our baptismal promises. We die and rise with Jesus!
How might we grasp this perennial truth for ourselves? Last week in preaching his funeral homily for Fr. Richard House – a dear friend and brother priest – Monsignor John Ecker made a reference to the many near-death experiences reported in the popular press and studied in some branches of medical research. He mentioned the profound sense of peace and joy that those who came close to death experienced once they were brought back into this life – perhaps similar to the experience of Lazarus whom we read about in St. John’s Gospel on the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
Similarly, in his recent book titled “The Soul’s Upward Yearning,” Fr. Robert Spitzer notes the way scientists have been studying near-death experiences for some 40 years. Scientists often attribute this to hallucinations or oxygen deprivation yet the accounts are so consistent and so detailed that they suggest that something more lies beyond this life, as we know it. Yet with remarkable consistency and across a variety of cultures, patients consistently report post-death experiences of seeing the hospital room in great detail, recognizing loved ones, of being drawn towards a light, being taken towards a loving presence and having a profound sense of peace. Interestingly, those patients who were physically blind their entire lives who had near-death experiences report “seeing” in amazing detail.
What Fr. Robert Spitzer seems to suggest is that even scientific data suggests that although our bodies are structured for physical death, our souls – our interior selves – seem to be structure for an eternal relationship with God. Hence the famous phrase of St. Augustine in his own conversion experience: “Our souls are restless until they rest in you, O God!”
Fr. Spitzer plays off the insights of the famous North American philosopher, Charles Taylor. In his weighty tome, “The Secular Age,” Taylor notes that 500 years ago, people assumed the presence of God. We see this in the beauty of Cathedrals like the Notre Dame in Paris or the Wörmers Dom in Wörms, Germany. We see it in the art of Michaelangelo and medieval stained glass in Esslingen am Necker.
Taylor goes on to trace the various historical and philosophical developments that have developed into what he terms a “buffered self,” a sense in our personhood that what’s real is only what we can see and verify individually. As a result our worldview shrinks from one seeing God as the ultimate reference point for all inquiry, including the scientific, to one that sees our individual free inquiry as competitive with that of God. Taken together, the modern world in which we live our daily lives may be much smaller than for those who lived 500 years ago.
Our celebration of baptism and our embrace of God punches holes in this “buffered” universe. Baptism opens up the possibility that life is bigger than what we see and that we are more than random individuals living alone and apart from each other and from a personal relationship with an ultimate reality. We find hope and communion breaking through the limits of our culture, our time and our place in finding relationship with each other and with God. Indeed, what marks Christianity as unique among the world religions is that we can see God’s very face in Jesus and that we can receive God’s very presence in the Eucharist.
Tonight, together with those being baptized, we open ourselves up to a universe far vaster than the one we can see. We open up ourselves to the endless possibilities that God creates in each of us – unique and individual as we are – yet all made in the image and likeness of God. We open up ourselves to the reality that God has placed us here for a purpose and a plan. We open up ourselves so that, even though we each have a specific mission in life, all of us are here because God wants us to flourish and become the great men and women he’s created us to be. That first step in his plan for us is baptism: dying to an old way of viewing ourselves and the world so that we might rise with him now and at the end of time. Peace be with you!
(Image: Baptistry at Holy Family Parish, Yakima)
Were You There?
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Peace be with you! Were you there? Were you there when they crucified the Lord? Were you there? Where are you in this Gospel?
Palm Sunday with its powerful distribution of palms would have us be part of the crowd cheering Jesus. But our Passion from St. John invites us to consider that our relationship with Jesus would be more like a bystander, an onlooker or one of the disciples. Were you there?
Are you like Peter? We know that Peter denied Jesus three times. But unique to this Gospel of John is the fact that Peter is directly named as the one cutting off the servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane. Are we militantly defensive only to betray?
Are you like Pontius Pilate? Again, we know that Pilate presided over the judgment against Jesus. Yet with the stern give-and-take between Jesus and Pilate, the Gospel of John suggests that Pilate is more on trial than Jesus. Unique to the Gospel of John is the detail that this arrest is planned – not just by the chief priests and scribes – but by Roman soldiers and guards. This would suggest that Pilate must have ordered the arrest of Jesus or – at very least – had advance knowledge of his arrest. It would suggest a kind of collusion between the religious authorities and the civil authorities.
As scripture scholar Father Raymond Brown, P.S.S. noted with sharp directness: “Religious people of all times have accomplished what they wanted through the secular authority acting for its own purposes.” (p. 15 “Crucified Christ in Holy Week”.) Do we look to politicians and judges to enforce what we cannot convincingly witness as Christians? Or are we like the Pilate of St. Matthew’s Gospel where we simply wash our hands and thus cover up our past poor decisions?
Are you like the crowds? Last Sunday’s Gospel from St. Matthew refers to the crowds as “all the people” (27:25) yet this Gospel from St. John refers to the crowds as “the Jews” and its not meant as a compliment. This Gospel of St. John reference to “the Jews” sounds anti-Semitic to our modern ears.
Indeed, it’s wise to note that not only is the crowd “Jewish” but so are the chief priests and Pharisees. So is Peter. So are the women at the foot of Jesus' cross: his mother Mary, his aunt Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. All the main characters who betray Jesus are “Jews” and all those who loved Jesus also are Jews.
Thus Jesus is not struggling against “the Jews” per se but against a religious attitude. Why? The reason “why” is because Jesus never battles against the sinners. In the Gospels, sinners always come around to Jesus. No. Jesus battles against the attitudes of the religious leaders who already thought they knew God’s will.
That might be something for us to note today. Often it is the most religiously observant and those seemingly “most Catholic” who have most publicly struggled with Pope Francis and his outreach – especially among the world’s refugees, immigrants as well as the undocumented. How slow we are to realize that if we want to save the unborn then we must respectfully enter the lives of the undocumented because this is where most of the unborn dwell.
Indeed, reflecting on these Good Friday readings, our emeritus Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI astutely noted: “We must also learn that in addition to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Church and in the sacraments there is that other, second real presence of Jesus in the least of our brethren, in the downtrodden of this world: he wants us to find him in all of them.”
So, no, this challenge of religious attitude is not about “the Jews!” It’s about the religious attitudes of all of us – today! It’s about the attitudes of those of us who consider ourselves religiously observant.
So where are you? Where am I? Where are we in this Passion from St. John? Can we consider becoming the “beloved disciple?” Unique to the Gospel of St. John, this “beloved disciple” never appears in Matthew, Mark or Luke. But he appears at least four times: He first appears before tonight’s Passion Gospel at the “Passover preparations” (13:23-26). He also appears after tonight’s Passion, at the empty tomb (20:2-10) and at the appearance of the Risen Jesus (21:7, 20-23). Tonight we hear of the presence of this “beloved disciple” – “the disciple whom he loved” – at the foot of the cross where he receives the commission from the dying Jesus to care for his mother.
Were you there when they crucified the Lord? The answer is “yes”; “yes” we were there then because we are here now. We are there as we reverence and adore the cross of Christ. We are there now at the foot of the cross with the beloved disciple. We are there receiving the same commission: to love Mary as our mother and to love those around us – especially those whose lives reflect the misery of the crucifixion. Yes, we are there. We are there now. Peace be with you.
Image: "Crucifixion of Christ," Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1617-1682. Public Domain.
“Be what you see! Believe who you are.”
Holy Thursday 2017
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15
The Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
“Estote quo videtis, et accipte quod estis.” “Be what you see! Believe who you are.” Those words come from a homily in the fourth century that St. Augustine preached. They are citied in paragraph 1396 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Be what you see! Believe who you are!”
How might we understand these words tonight as we commemorate the institution of the Lord’s Supper? Permit me to begin with a little account from my own family. As many of you know, my mother was a student here at St. Paul school. She grew up here in the parish in a home between West MacLaren and Tieton Drive on South 14th Avenue. I actually have spoken with the owners of the house. They speak Spanish there now! But back when I was little that corner of the block spoke German.
My grandparents’ family came from a war-torn and starved part of southeast Europe, like most of the Germans from Russia. In their living memories was the great famine of 1920, where one person died every three seconds of hunger. When it came to food the three generations of immigrants had three distinct German words to describe their respective generational experiences: “Tod, Not und Brot.”
The first generation – the generation of the 1920s would know death – “Tod.” The second generation would know poverty and need: “Not.” It was the third generation that would know food and have bread: “Brot.”
I was fortunate enough to be part of that third generation – the generation of bread – and boy did we have bread! I can recall coming home to the smell of cinnamon rolls baked by my grandmother. She baked all kind of dishes based on wheat: “Kaasnipfla,” “Dümpfnudle,” and “Plachenda.”
Yet hearing her soft southwestern German dialect – the dialect spoken by all the Germans from Russia here in Yakima – I also became aware of the story behind the food: “Tod, Not und Brot.”
In a parallel fashion this is precisely what our Passover Scriptures are meant to convey this Holy Thursday evening commemorating the Lord’s Supper. Our opening scriptures recall the great Passover where the ancient Jewish people mark their doorposts with the blood of the sacrificed goats signaling for the angel of death to bypass their homes. They prepare a special bread – unleavened bread – bread that does not spoil or deteriorate – bread for the exodus journey from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. In the process they face down the death of the desert, their hunger and need and receive manna in the desert. “Tod, Not und Brot.”
Note this too: In the ancient Jewish Passover feast participants did not believe that they were re-enacting an ancient event in Jewish history. No. Quite the opposite! Our Jewish faith ancestors believed that they were re-entering that one Passover feast anew and that they were present with their ancestors in that one great Passover feast.
The same is true for me and for you. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we believe we are re-membering ourselves to the singular and one sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is precisely why in the Gospel of John – while we hear tonight about Passover preparations – we have no account of the last supper as we do in Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is as though St. John wants us to grasp that Jesus dies on the cross aligned to the slaughter of the Passover lambs. Jesus IS the Lamb of God, the Passover sacrifice, the one and singular source of salvation that brings us new life. “Tod, Not und Brot.”
The world need not continue with its forced famines and wars. The world need not continue with gangbanging and violence. The world need not continue its tribalism and rivalry. With the Eucharist we can place ourselves as we are with all of our sinfulness, all of our competitiveness, all of our revengeful tendencies on the paten alongside the bread and the wine and offer them up as a “bloodless” sacrifice for ourselves AND for the world around us. We offer them up knowing that God can transform our hatred to mercy, our violence to harmony, our divisions into unity and our rivalries into mutual respect and love.
“Be what you see! Believe who you are!” Those ancient words of St. Augustine remind us that the early Church made no distinction between the “Body and Blood of Christ” received in the Eucharist and the “Body and Blood of Christ” gathered at worship. This means when we receive the “Body and Blood of Christ” we not only receive Jesus Christ in all of his humanity and all of his divinity in the Eucharist – but we also receive each other. We receive the entire community of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world gathered this night. We receive all those across countless generations who have passed on to us the gift of our faith. We receive all the living and the dead whose faith is known to God alone! More to the point we receive each other across this great Diocese of Yakima – those who speak Spanish and those who speak English; those who are documented and those who are not documented. And if we cannot do this – if we cannot receive each other as brothers and sisters regardless of our social or legal status – than we are not worthy to receive the Eucharist – the “Body and Blood of Christ.”
“Be what you see! Believe who you are!” Tonight here at St. Paul Cathedral we model at this sacred meal what every human meal should look like. Tonight at St. Paul Cathedral we model the radical welcome of every person and the foundation human dignity of every person that ought to be present in our daily life. “Be what you see! Believe who you are!” Thanks for taking so seriously the most ancient teachings of the Eucharist and making them your own as followers of this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Peace be with you!
(Image: "The Last Supper," Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), Public Domain (Wiki Commons).
|April 7, 2017|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pope Francis has named Monsignor Daniel H. Mueggenborg, a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Msgr. Mueggenborg currently serves as pastor of Christ the King Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He fills the position left open when Bishop Joseph Tyson was installed as the seventh Bishop of Yakima May 31, 2011. Msgr. Mueggenborg's ordination is scheduled for Wednesday, May 31 at St. James Cathedral in Seattle.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 6, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Msgr. Mueggenborg was born April 15, 1962 and raised in rural Oklahoma where his family was involved in the farming and ranching industry. He has three brothers (Norbert, Bernard, and Patrick) and three sisters (Barbara, Patricia, and Catherine). His parents, Paul (1917-2010) and Dolores (1930-1995), are both deceased. He enjoys mountain biking and hiking. His love for the outdoors developed through his rural upbringing and his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America where he earned the Eagle rank. He has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiked a substantial portion of the Camino de Santiago. He recently authored a three-volume series of reflections on the Sunday Gospel readings entitled, “Come Follow Me” (Gracewing, London).
Msgr. Mueggenborg attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in geology in 1984, and pursued seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College, 1985-1989. He holds a bachelor degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1989, where he also earned a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.) in biblical theology, 1990. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa in 1989.
Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor at Church of St. Mary, Tulsa, 1989, and at St. John Church, Bartlesville, 1990-1991; chaplain, Bishop Kelley High School, and associate pastor, Saint Pius X Church, Tulsa, 1991-1995; administrator pro-tempore, Saint Cecilia Church, Claremont, 1994-1996; pastor at Church of the Magdalene, Tulsa, 1996-2001, and St. Clement Church, Bixby, 2001-2005; assistant director of formation advising and formation advisor, Pontifical North American College, Rome, 2005-2006.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II named him a "Chaplain of His Holiness," carrying the title of “monsignor.”
The Archdiocese of Seattle comprises 28,731 square miles in the state of Washington and it has a total population of 5,501,540 people of which 583,000 or 11 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has been the archbishop of Seattle since 2010. The archdiocese currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo.
For young people, that they might know how to respond generously to the vocation God has given them, and immerse themselves in the great causes of the world. –Pope Francis, April 2017
I know that you, young people, don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you aim high. Is that true, or am I wrong?
Don’t leave it to others to be the protagonists of change.
You, young people, are the ones who hold the future! I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world. It is a challenge, yes it is a challenge. Do you accept it?
Pray with me that young people may respond generously to their own vocation and mobilize for the great causes of the world.
The Reverend Richard Mel House, pastor of St. John Catholic Church in Naches since 2011, died Friday, March 31, after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. Bishop Joseph Tyson and Msgr. John Ecker of the Catholic Diocese of Yakima were with him. The excellent care he received from parishioners as well as the staff of the North Star Lodge cancer treatment center in Yakima was a great comfort to him in his final days.
Father Richard was born March 17, 1954 in La Jolla, Calif. to Melvin V. and Sydney (Stauffer) House. He was raised by his stepmother, Elizabeth House. He attended elementary school in San Diego and was a 1972 graduate of Clairemont High School there.
After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was Honorably Discharged in 1987. He received a Bachelor’s degree in liberal studies that year from Loyola University in New Orleans, then entered Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. Upon graduation he was ordained a Priest by Bishop Francis George, O.M.I. on May 22, 1992 at St. Paul Cathedral in Yakima. He served as Associate Pastor at Christ the King Church in Richland, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in White Salmon and Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Ephrata. He returned to the U.S. Navy as a Chaplain from 2000 until 2011, serving at Camp Pendleton, Calif., aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Bahrain, Hawaii and Japan. After his Honorable Discharge, he became the Pastor of St. John Church.
Father Richard was noted for a lively preaching style, which he often attributed to the influence of his faith-filled Pentecostal grandfather. He also owned an extensive collection of more than 300 nativity sets, including a Fontanini display from Italy with over 1,000 pieces, which he delighted in putting on display in July 2015 at St. Paul Cathedral School. He also maintained a lifelong friendship with Bishop George and was pleased to be able to attend the ceremony in Rome honoring the bishop’s elevation to a Cardinal of the church in February 1998.
He is survived by his sister, Gina Flower of Steilacoom, and brothers, Troy Dockins of Beaverton and Steven House of Lake Elsinore; also, nephews and niece, David, Chris & Kyle Flower, and Gillian and Harris Dockins and 5 great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Viewing begins at 5:00 p.m. and Vigil Services at 5:30 p.m. at St. John Catholic Church, 203 Moxee Avenue, Naches on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul Cathedral, corner of S. 12th and West Chestnut Avenues, Yakima. Private family inurnment will be in the Ephrata Cemetery, Ephrata, WA. Memorials may be made to St. John Catholic Church, Naches, c/o Brookside Funeral Home & Crematory, PO Box 1267, Moxee, WA.
Brookside Funeral Home and Crematory is entrusted with the arrangements.
Justice for Immigrants
Know Your Rights
Great opportunity for priests, deacons, parish staff and lay leaders who are involved, or wish to be involved, in helping to promote Stewardship in the Church. We invite you all to attend the Western Canada and Region XII Conference beginning Friday, June 9 through Sunday, June 11, 2017. The Conference will be at Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 7551 Westminster Highway, Richmond, BC. Please see attachment for stewardship conference tracks.
Third Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle C 2017 at St. Paul Cathedral in Yakima, Washington
Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17; Matthew 4:10-23
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Friends, today as we remember this 44th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court ruling titled Roe vs. Wade I'd like to propose that St. Paul's wish for the Corinthians is my wish for all of you – especially you who are involved in any way in the pro-life movement. What was St. Paul's wish? To quote from today's second reading: "That all of you may agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you."
Why this wish from St. Paul? Perhaps because Chloe – a woman patroness of St. Paul's preaching ministry – has reported to St. Paul that within that early church in Corinth a number of factions have developed. Our second reading notes that some in Corinth claim to be followers of Paul, others of Apollos and still others of Cephas. Rather than getting into an argument of which preacher is the best St. Paul sidesteps this by pointing everyone to the source of all preaching: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Between the lines, St. Paul seems to suggest that there always will be a diversity of ways in uplifting the gospel and that – as long as they unite back to the person and preaching of Christ – they're variations of our Lord himself, the life he led and the message he preached.
There might be a lesson for us today for there are diverse ways of uplifting what Saint John Paul the Second so eloquently termed the Gospel of Life. That diversity here in Central Washington can be seen in the growing network of pregnancy resource centers, the various ways local parishes reach out to women and their children – born and unborn – as well as the various spiritual supports of prayers and retreats supporting the unborn, supporting their mothers, supporting their fathers and even of supporting those who suffer emotional and spiritual damage due to an abortion they or their partner procured.
Recognizing these efforts, two years ago, we bishops of Washington State launched PREPARES. PREPARES stands for Pregnancy and Parenting Support and it represents our Church’s coordinated outreach for women and children, organizing wrap-around care for women in emergency pregnancies from the moment of conception to the fifth year of the child's life. It’s been my pleasure to chair our working group of Catholic Charities leadership from across the state over these last two years. Often we are able to partner and coordinate with a number of the local and often ecumenically based groups to create a systematic and sequential support system tailored to the needs of the women whom we are reaching. Thus far, we’ve been able to touch the lives of nearly 700 women with some form of care for themselves, their child and even their surrounding families.
Why this need for diversity of care as support in uplifting the Gospel of Life? Because, today, while much of the nation rightly focuses on the actual Roe vs. Wade decision our local efforts as a Church address two very unique conditions here in Central Washington.
The first is this: Washington State holds a very unique position in the history of legalized abortion here in the United States. Washington State is the only state in the United States of America to have legalized abortion BY POPULAR BALLOT. We did this in the 1970 election by passing Referendum 20. All other states with any kind of legalized abortion did so either through a lower court action overturning a local state law or – as in the case of the state of Oregon – legalization of abortion through a legislative act. But Washington State holds the unique and dubious distinction of being the only state where abortion was legalized in a popular vote by a majority of the citizens. This means that even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned – and God willing it will be one day – abortion will remain legal here in Washington State. For us to overturn Referendum 20 means we will need a positive, uplifting and inspiring witness that moves our neighbors to reconsider their support for abortion and see embodied in our lives of service a better, happier and more joyous way.
This is precisely why I am so very appreciative – not only of our collaboration between the Catholic Charities agencies across the state – but for the many positive efforts from a great many local pro-life groups in supporting the gift of life from the very first moment of conception. It takes all of us together to uplift the gift of life regardless of our faith, our political outlook, our language or our cultural heritage.
That leads me to raise the second unique challenge in uplifting the gift of life and the gift of the unborn. It is this: the overwhelming majority of baptisms, confirmations, first communions and marriages are in the Hispanic community. This is also where most of the pregnancies and births are occurring. Because abortion is the preeminent issue of social justice and anchors all other catholic social teaching it requires that we – as Catholics – find ways to create bonds of trust and welcome so that Hispanic women – especially those whose families are undocumented – can approach us and our partners in this ministry of life without fear. One of the things we’ve learned at PREPARES these first two years is that often black women and white women in emergency pregnancy face low levels of family support to help in their time of needs. PREPARES volunteers often become the “family companion” making up for the family these women lack. It’s a particular form of poverty they face.
Yet working in the Hispanic community, women often do have extended family support systems, so this means that PREPARES volunteers find ways to support the woman and their family in upholding the gift of their unborn child and beginning with them that journey for the first five years of the child’s life. This means that in order to protect the unborn we find ourselves walking through the doors of the undocumented since so many of our Hispanic families are in a variety of places with regards to their immigration status.
Thus while there can be a legitimate spectrum of opinions regarding immigration, border control, the importance of English and of cultural integration, a good and faithful Catholic will never use language in public that is harsh, derogatory, or in any way demeaning – especially towards the Hispanic community or the specific people who are undocumented in our midst. Such language – now so prominent in political discourse – undercuts our local efforts to reach out to the unborn and their families, especially in the Hispanic community. Failure to protect the undocumented risks compromising our ability to reach the unborn and their mothers.
Circling back to the stern challenge of St. Paul to the Corinthians in today’s second reading, we cannot allow ourselves to become partisan Christians seeing ourselves as sectarian followers of the Cephases, Apolloses, or even the St. Pauls of our day. Regardless of our language or our culture we are one and we are here to uplift the one Gospel – a Gospel of Life – proclaimed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is why we look to Mary and it is why – today – I specifically requested that her image be present in today's Mass for Life. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as we know is the patroness of Mexico. She’s also the patroness of the Americas because she’s the only apparition recognized by the Church to have occurred in the Americas. She's revered and venerated by so many especially among our undocumented Hispanic Catholics in their lives of uncertainty.
But she's also known to us as the patroness of the pro-life movement. Why? Because of all the many Marian devotions and of all of the Marian apparitions that have graced our church, this apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to San Juan Diego is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant. Indeed the Aztec symbols of fertility embossed on the fabric of her dress speak to this reality. I might add that the leader of the Knights of Columbus – Carl Anderson – has written a thoughtful book on this apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I uplift her today for our specific veneration because she embodies the very unique circumstances we face here in the Diocese of Yakima as we uplift the Gospel of Life.
Mary shows us the way. She points us to her Son. She unifies us as our shared mother. She prepares the table. She invites us to Eucharist. She leads us to him so we can follow him to the Father and – animated by the Holy Spirit – give witness to the Gospel of Life. So in gratitude for all the many efforts across Central Washington protecting the unborn and uplifting the gift of life, in devotion I close this homily inviting you to pray with me:
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
2017 Confirmation Scripts
April 28-30 2017
Congreso de Evangelizacion Familiar