EAST FLATBUSH — Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the feast day of St. Jerome with St. Jerome’s clergy and congregants on Sept. 30. The nighttime Mass — celebrated in Creole, Spanish, and English — was the church’s annual memorial Mass to its patron saint.
St. Jerome, who led an ascetic life for most of his life in the Holy Land, is most known for translating the Bible into Latin from Hebrew and Greek. Bishop DiMarzio said that the saint was indeed a perfectionist, as his translation of the Bible — better known as the Vulgate — was used for a thousand years before being updated. For without St. Jerome’s hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, Bishop DiMarzio noted, we would not have had God’s word.
“That’s why we celebrate this feast day … because he has given us a great treasure of the Scriptures,” Bishop DiMarzio said during his homily. “We call him a doctor of the Church — not many people get that title — but doctor means ‘teacher of the Church.’ He has taught the Church the Scriptures literally by translating and making them available to us in a language we can understand, but also by making sure that we live by the word of God.”
Bishop DiMarzio urged those in attendance and viewing the live-streamed Mass at home to read the Scriptures daily and to put them into practice as well.
He repeated St. Jerome’s most famous saying that was adopted by the Second Vatican Council — “The ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” With that said, the bishop emphasized the importance of really listening to the readings and receiving the Eucharist so that we, as Catholics, can be fully nourished.
“The Word of God is the food of our life,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “First, we listen to the Word of God and, then, we partake of the food that comes from the Word of God — the remedy in our life that we have. Clearly, the Word of God nourishes our minds [and] the bread and wine, becoming the Body and Blood of Christ, nourishes our souls.”
Father Jean Yvon Pierre, pastor of St. Jerome’s, was so grateful to have the bishop come and celebrate this tradition within the parish and the Haitian community.
“A few months ago, we were not sure how we would celebrate this in the middle of a pandemic. But we did know that we would have it somehow. I’m so happy our parishioners showed up and that they, too, were happy to see the tradition carried out with Bishop DiMarzio there,” Father Pierre told The Tablet, noting that the church was filled to its 25-percent occupancy capacity limit with some attendees safely standing in the church’s vestibule.
“It was a sign of unity, and they said to me that they feel supported. With Bishop DiMarzio, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Guy Sansaricq, and the group of deacons there to celebrate, it was meaningful for them and to me,” Father Pierre added.