Bishop Rhoades closes Year of Faith
Faithful gather for Closing Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral
By Chris Lushis
SOUTH BEND — “Though the Year of Faith is coming to an end, our journey of faith continues. The Year of Faith has been a stimulus for us to go deeper, to hear God’s word anew, and to profess our faith with new vigor. I pray that we will continue to help one another in our journey of faith,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said at the conclusion of his homily at the Closing Mass for the Year of Faith on Sunday, Nov. 24, at St. Matthew Cathedral.
In addition to the St. Matthew Cathedral Choir, the St. Augustine Gospel Choir and the Spanish Choir from St. Dominic Parish in Bremen led the congregation in hymns that emphasized the journey of faith united through Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe and Lord of All Nations. The unity of different musical styles performed together highlighted the diversity of the diocese and the Church throughout the world.
At the start of Mass, Bishop Rhoades expressed his joy and gratitude at seeing so many young, college-aged people attending the closing celebration for the Year of Faith. In particular, there were students and campus ministers present from Trine University, Indiana Tech, Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Manchester University, Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame.
One of those students came to celebrate the Closing Mass at St. Matthew because of a special connection to the parish. Jeonghoo M. Kim, a recent graduate from Marian High School and a freshman at Holy Cross College, revealed that he had become Catholic earlier this year and was baptized at St. Matthew. Kim described this Year of Faith as a “personal journey culminating in the experience of knowing the truth and love of Christ.”
Another member of the congregation, Pete Hlabse, an alumnus and current employee at the University of Notre Dame, conveyed great joy to have taken part in the final Year of Faith celebration.
Hlabse, a Ukrainian Catholic who was invited to St. Matthew by a friend, remarked that “it was beneficial to recollect on the fruits the year had brought, especially with the bishop, as he sits in the person of both Francis and Benedict.” Hlabse also expressed appreciation for the infusion of different liturgical styles at the Mass, saying he thought the multicultural celebration had “good energy in a way that displayed great reverence.”
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades reflected how Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis both followed Jesus’ instruction to St. Peter to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the faith.
“Pope Benedict proclaimed this Year of Faith to help us to appreciate anew the great joy of believing,” Bishop Rhoades said (see page 2). “It is important that we not take our faith for granted or allow it to become lukewarm. The gift of faith always needs to be nourished and reinforced so it can continue to guide us in our journey of life.”
The Closing Mass coincided with the solemnity of Christ the King. Bishop Rhoades said the Closing Mass on the feast was very appropriate, “because, in the end, genuine Christian faith involves putting Christ at the center of our lives, recognizing His Kingship, His Lordship.”
“In God’s gift of faith, we have a light for the path of our lives,” Bishop Rhoades said. “It’s a powerful light that brightens and enriches our life in all its dimensions. That light is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God. Our faith is centered on Him who supremely manifested and revealed God’s love for us. On the cross, He offered His life for us. The depth and breadth of God’s love shone forth in the crucifixion of Jesus.”
Bishop Rhoades highlighted the actions of Pope Francis who revealed the bones of St. Peter at the Closing Mass for the Year of Faith at the Vatican as a sign of the connection to the original apostles of Christ. To further capture this spirit of common brotherhood and discipleship, Bishop Rhoades then led the congregation in reciting the Apostles’ Creed, as has been practiced throughout the Year of Faith.
Bishop Rhoades concluded the Mass with the imparting of an apostolic blessing and revealed the opportunity for obtaining a plenary indulgence by worthily receiving Holy Communion, praying for Pope Francis’ intentions, and participating in the sacrament of Reconciliation within 20 days of the blessing, while also promising to detach oneself from any inclination to sin.
St. Matthew’s parishioner Lisa Marino, who attended Mass with her husband and five children, said she came “because they love the bishop, were grateful for the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence, and because it is great too for their children to be exposed to the wider Church as much as possible.”
While stating that her family usually attends the Sunday Mass at St. Matthew, she and her husband found it beneficial to experience the different ways Catholic faith and liturgy is expressed, saying, “they loved the music and multicultural elements of this special Mass.”