The Mass of the Neophytes is an annual gathering with the bishop of all the newly baptized and confirmed Catholics who joined the Church at Easter. It gives the bishop another chance to stay in touch and for the people an opportunity to experience the unity of the Church.
This year, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will celebrate that liturgy with the newest members of his flock on Tuesday, May 6, at 8 p.m. at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn.
Traditionally, only about 10 percent of the converts return. This year, Bishop DiMarzio has urged greater participation, and he has set a modest goal of 15 percent of the total number of new Catholics.
We think that 15 percent is too low and call upon all who have entered into full communion with the Church to come out in even greater numbers to celebrate their faith. Is 25 percent too much to ask?
This year, we welcomed more than 1,100 people into our diocesan community in Brooklyn and Queens. Twenty-five percent of that number would be about 275 people.
We realize that Jesus Himself told the story of the 10 lepers who were cured, and only one (that’s 10 percent) came back to say thank you. But we’re bigger than that, and we’re more cognizant of our responsibility to say thank you.
We call upon not only the newly initiated Catholics but also upon all those priests, deacons, sisters and laity who instructed them in the faith during the RCIA process to encourage participation in this year’s Mass of the Neophytes.
We are a faith community that needs to come together in assembly to express our words and actions as we praise and give thanks to the Creator. Finding new life in Jesus is certainly one of those moments for which we should be eternally thankful. Come and celebrate!
We continue to bask in the glow of the Church’s newest saints: John XXIII and John Paul II.
The crowds that jammed St. Peter’s Square last weekend were a testament to the popularity of these new saints. People came from all over the world, for many different reasons, to pay tribute to these former popes who were role models for us all.
Santo Subito (Sainthood Now!) was the chant of the faithful who had gathered for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. It was the same sentiment that had been uttered by those who were present when Pope John XXIII died in 1963.
Despite all the questions about the wisdom of speeding up the canonization process for these two men, there is the underlying factor that the impetus was coming from the people who make up the Church. This was the sensus fidelium – the general opinion of their groundroots – that these men led lives of heroic virtue. Moving the two men quickly along the road to sainthood was fueled by popular acclaim. It came from the people who are the Church. By reacting to that sentiment, the Vatican was simply responding to what we already knew was true.
For most Catholics, saints have been holy men and women who were pictured on prayer cards. Now we actually have saints whom we remember, whom we have seen, whom many of us have actually touched.
We no longer have to close our eyes and try to imagine what it means to be a saint. These saints walked among us, and we only have to remember their words and deeds to realize that the path to sanctity is right in front of us. All that is needed is for us to recognize and then follow it. The Kingdom of God is among us!