Almost as soon as Pope Francis called for “a synod on synodality”, I began to receive questions – “What is a synod?” “What is synodality?” And, “Doesn’t this sound like a lot meetings to talk about meetings?” Admittedly, “synod” and “synodality” are not yet household names, like Ford or Chevy! Clearly, however, Pope Francis intends not only to familiarize us with these words, but he also wants us to embrace them and put them into practice in the Church’s life.
This evening, after I bless the insignia of office and those destined to wear them, our Supreme Knight will proceed to install the new members of the Board. With our Supreme Knight, I wish to congratulate you, our new Board Members. Thank you for your long and generous service to the Order founded by Blessed Michael McGivney, the holy parish priest, and the premier exemplar of the principles of our Order.
Some 50 years ago, I attended my first class at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. It was 8 a.m., and our professor was a Dominican priest, Fr. Thomas Heath, one of three brothers who served as priests of the Order of Preachers. They looked so much alike that they were known as “heath, heathier, and heathiest.” Fr. Tom Heath was probably “heathiest” – at the time, he seemed craggy & forbidding. To top it off, he was to teach moral theology to me and my classmates, a motley crew. Fr. Heath turned out to be a wonderful priest and an excellent professor. He began that class with a question I have not forgotten after all these years. He asked, “Is God a monster or a marshmallow?”
I tend to be an early riser and, after walking and feeding my dog, I head to chapel where I spend an hour in prayer before the busyness of the day commences. I wish I could say that, as I begin my prayers each morning, my mind and heart are focused only on the Lord – but such is often not the case. Somehow, during the night, my internal computer reboots, and upon waking, worries and concerns and desired outcomes come rushing into my head. Some mornings, I begin my prayer by asking the Lord to do this or that, and to get all these things done ‘on schedule and under budget’.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of St. Ann Parish, our spirit of joy and thanksgiving is tempered by the remembrance of what transpired in our country, twenty years ago today, the infamous 9/11. Many of us can remember where we were and what we doing when news broke of planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the further attempt against our Capital, foiled by courageous passengers in PA. The violent images of that day linger in our consciousness, the mourning for victims is embedded in our hearts, and the courage of first responders and many others continues to inspire us. We remember also the spirit of solidarity that, for a time, prevailed in our country, even as many turned to the Lord and to their churches for solace and understanding.
Thank you for your presence as we begin the celebration of the patronal feast of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Bl. Virgin Mary, in short, America’s First Cathedral. I greet those present and those joining us via EWTN and livestreaming. We are blessed by the presence of Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal O’Brien, my brother bishops and priests, seminarians and religious, our Source of All Hope Missionaries, Members of the Basilica Historic Trust, Shelonda Stokes and Sofia Darsin of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and beyond.
Last week, I had the joy and privilege of ordaining and installing the new Bishop of Wilmington, Bishop William Edward Koenig. Bishop Koenig succeeds Bishop Malooly, a native son of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who ably led the Diocese of Wilmington for the past thirteen years. All those gathered in St. Elizabeth Church last Tuesday thanked Bishop Malooly with thunderous applause and with a standing ovation. At the same time, they welcomed their new shepherd with great joy and enthusiasm as he pledged to serve them to the best of his ability and in the fullness of God’s grace.
How many times a day are we anxious and upset? I certainly feel that way, for example, when I’m facing a difficult decision or when I’m concerned about the health of a priest or a co-worker. Almost no one, including all of us, is exempt from worry and anxiety, and while there are many things to worry about, health has risen to the top of the list, especially since the onset of the pandemic. Understandably, many of us worried and continue to worry about our families’ health.
It is a joy and privilege for me to preside at this Holy Mass at the end of which the Worthy Supreme Knight will be installed together with the new Supreme Officers, Directors, and State Deputies. These historic installations take place on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the parish church where Blessed Michael McGivney labored so faithfully, and where, in 1882, he founded the Knights of Columbus. Moreover, these installations also take place during the Year of St. Joseph to whom our recently elected Supreme Knight has dedicated his new administration.
In April 1970, Msgr. George D. Mulcahy, then the Rector of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, wrote a memorandum for the file of seminarian Joseph L. Luca. It said in part and I quote: “Joseph has been an excellent seminarian and an excellent student. He presents a good appearance and has a friendly personality with a joyous sense of humor. He entered fully into the life of our community and accepted positions of leadership. He was Prefect of the Seminary, the highest position of student honor and responsibility here. He was class president, chairman of the Student Council Constitution Committee, and chairman of the Deacon Program.” Msgr. Mulcahy added, “This young man has a clear vision of the priesthood and priestly work… There is every reason to expect an effective priestly ministry from this maturely Christian young man.” I think we can agree that Msgr. Mulcahy was right on target!