We got a touch of that joy that awaits us at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Catholic Celebration!
On Saturday, October 4, over 5,500 people came together to celebrate their faith and to be inspired by the message of Christ—the message of hope.
The theme of the celebration, Horizon of Hope, was taken from the Holy Father's address at the beginning of Advent last year when he said, “For the great human family it is necessary to renew always the common horizon toward which we are journeying. The horizon of hope!”
Pope Francis went on to encourage us, especially in our darkest of hours, to always return to the Horizon of Hope, because, as the Holy Father said, "Jesus promises a hope that does not disappoint. He is faithful!"
That message was heard loud and clear last Saturday at the Catholic Celebration!
There was an incredible sense of hope that over-shadowed those gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center to celebrate their Catholic faith. Everything that took place, in the beautifully orchestrated day, filled hearts with joy and pointed to the splendor of what awaits us on the horizon.
From the powerful explanation of the wonderful Catholic schools and activities for youth and young adults in our Archdiocese, to the flash-mod of talented teens singing "Happy", to the witness of over 400 Catechetical Institute students on fire for their faith, to the moving display of the men in formation at The Saint Paul Seminary and St. John Vianney minor seminary receiving a double standing ovation, to the pure example of sorrow turning to joy given by a beautiful young woman whose father died in the 35W bridge collapse as he went back in the water to save another life… everything showed why we have our hope in Christ.
Every aspect of the day exemplified promise, the music, the speakers, the volunteers, every aspect, but it was what happened in the first few minutes of the celebration that had the biggest impact on me.
As we began our celebration, our bishops took the stage and began to speak—not from behind a podium, but front and center, among the people. Each spoke for about a minute—not something scripted, but words from their hearts. They welcomed us, expressed their thanks for our gathering together, acknowledged the pain we have experienced as a church in the past year, encouraged us to find hope in Jesus Christ and to return to the horizon, and then they asked for our prayers. It was their sincere plea for our prayers to help them as leaders and their humble gesture of kneeling before us that caught me off guard.
As I looked at them so humbly on their knees with their heads bowed before me, I couldn't help but think of what the Blessed Mother must have looked like as she responded to the question of an angel, and suddenly I saw our bishops as young men responding to God's call on their lives, an act of great humility born out of great love for Our Lord and His people.
Each time I look at the picture of our bishops kneeling before us, I see their humility and their pain… but above all, I see their undying love for Jesus Christ and their deep commitment to lead His people to a joy that can never be taken from them. (John 16:22)
Thank you Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Piché and Bishop Cozzens. Be assured of our prayers.