A Queens parish that has a very high record of bringing new members into the Church has set its sights even higher and has asked Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to hold it accountable.
When the bishop celebrated the Easter Vigil liturgy last weekend at St. Michael’s Church, Flushing, the pastor, Father John Vesey, asked the different ethnic communities there to make some promises to the bishop.
From the Chinese population, he asked that they double the number of new Catholics it produced this year – from 50 to 100 – so that the bishop will come back again next year. Bishop DiMarzio traditionally celebrates the Easter Vigil at the church with the largest number of catechumens and candidates who are joining the Catholic Church.
The pastor pressed the English-speaking members of the neighborhood to increase by 100 the number of people attending Sunday Mass.
To the Spanish-speaking, he said, “I ask you to commit yourselves to have 600 children participate in our Sunday School next year. And please have 100 marriages blessed this year in our parish.”
Addressing the Filipino Catholics, he acknowledged that they had been asking for a weekly Mass in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines. He said he would do so, only if the Filipino community brings in 100 new Catholics to the parish. He also noted that there are no Filipino seminarians studying for the Brooklyn Diocese at the moment.
During the two-and-a-half hour liturgy, Bishop DiMarzio baptized 60 new Catholics and administered Confirmation to an additional 13 people. All over Brooklyn and Queens, similar services were being conducted with more than 1,100 people entering into full communion with the Church.
In his homily – delivered in English and then read in Chinese and Spanish – the bishop told the congregation that Easter celebrates the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.
“We celebrate His physical Resurrection, nothing less,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “It was a real and corporeal resurrection, not just a spiritual resurrection.”
He noted that the celebration used the elements of fire, water, oils and bread and wine. “Every element and symbol of life we use tonight helps us to experience the Resurrection,” he said.
Father Vesey, who has served as a missionary on three different continents, explained that everyone is called to be a missionary. He explained how the bishop has traveled the world recruiting priests who speak the languages of this Diocese of Immigrants. Now he said it is time for the vocations to come from within the local communities themselves.
“I ask everyone in the parish to promise that before Bishop DiMarzio retires we will have 10 young people from our parish in the seminary and 10 young women in religious life,” said Father Vesey.
“These are outstanding goals, but these are the promises that we have made to our bishop for this coming year.”