Mass for the Philippine Community; Cathedral of Mary Our Queen Homily

“Thank you for the opportunity to offer this Holy Mass and with you to invoke the beloved saints of your homeland, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod.
This is a moment for me to thank you, the growing Philippine community of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (and beyond) for your deep faith and devotion as well as your dedication to the Church’s mission.

“You and your forebears have brought to the shores of this country a rich and beautiful expression of the Catholic faith. Yours is a culture that has been shaped by the faith for nearly 500 years, dating back to the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the baptism of King Humabon of Cebu, his wife, the queen. It is a faith that has survived natural disasters, poverty, and human rights violations, challenges from without and challenges from within.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

St. Michael, Clear Spring; 150th Anniversary and Confirmation Homily

“What a joy to celebrate with all of you the 150th anniversary of St. Michael Parish here in Clear Spring and, at the same, time, to confirm young people from the parish. In a sense, we are celebrating all at once the past, the present, and the future of this community of faith.

“In that same spirit, we acknowledge and thank the priests who are with us today: Fr. Ernest Cibelli, your current pastor; Fr. Collin Poston, who served until recently; and Fr. George Limmer, your pastor emeritus, who continues to serve so generously. I would imagine that Fr. Larry Adamczyk is holding down the fort at St. Mary’s and we grateful to him as well and send him our greetings. Dear brother priests, thank you so much for your devoted service to St. Michael’s!”

Read the complete homily HERE.

A Tribute to Msgr. Art Valenzano; Conference for Seminarians

“I’m grateful for the invitation to offer you a few reflections meant to be an aid your own prayer and reflection during this evening set aside for prayer.

“And let me begin with the beginning of my ministry in Baltimore. Just over four years ago, I celebrated my last Confirmation in Connecticut and then drove down to Baltimore … and wouldn’t you know it, the traffic was terrific. I arrived in front of what would be my residence about 5:30 in the afternoon. It is a large gray house, then clad in what we Baltimoreans call ‘form stone’, a type of stucco common to many older houses in the city,  and in this case, the form stone was a dark gray, “haunted-house” hue. The house also has a formidable flight of steps  that lead to a set of doors with iron bars. Truth to tell, my heart was in my mouth going up those steps. ‘What’s waiting for me on the other side of those doors?’ I wondered.”

Read the complete talk HERE.

25th Sunday C; 125th Anniversary, St. Lawrence Parish Homily

“Let me say how happy I am to return to St. Lawrence Parish to offer with you and for you this Mass of Thanksgiving that marks the 150th anniversary of this parish community. Let me first of all join you in expressing our common debt of gratitude to Father Victor Scocco and Fr. Binoy for their devoted service to your parish!

“I also want to join you in thanking the Trinitarians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province for serving this parish for nearly 40 years … since 1978. We are blessed that the Provincial is with us, Father Bill Axe, and I understand, Fr. Bill, that you formerly served as Pastor here – welcome back!”

Read the complete homily HERE.

25th Sunday C; 75th Anniversary of the Novena to St. Jude Homily

“It is a pleasure to visit with all of you and to celebrate the 75th Anniversary Mass of the Novena to St. Jude here at the nationwide center of St. Jude devotions. I am sorry to say that Fr. Sal Furnari is not able to be with us this morning because his father, Salvatore, passed away two days ago and Fr. Sal had to travel home to New York for the funeral arrangements. I am pleased to greet the Pallotine priests that are with us this morning along with my brother deacon, Doug Kendzierski.

“In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd steward who is about to lose his job and has to give an accounting to his master. The steward does something that is calculated, and for good reason; he isn’t skilled or strong enough to work and is too proud to ask for help. Therefore, he calls in his master’s debtors and forgives them part of their debts, thus making himself look favorable in their eyes. He used his last hours in charge of his master’s property to extend a world type of mercy to others by relieving their debts.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Faith and the Full Promise of America

A Statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to “nothing except hypocrisy,” and religion is being used as a “weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality.”  He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era.  These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.

People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel?  In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost.

Our record is not perfect.  We could have always done more. Nevertheless, we have long taught that the one God, maker of heaven and earth, calls each and every individual into being, loves every individual, and commands believers to love and show mercy to every individual.  The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society. 

Today, Catholic priests, religious and laity can be found walking the neighborhood streets of our most struggling communities in places abandoned by a “throwaway culture” that has too often determined that quick profits matter more than communities.  We are there offering education, health care, social services, and hope, working to serve as the “field hospital” Pope Francis has called us to be.  We wish we were there in even greater numbers, but we are there to humbly offer the full promise of America to all.  Rest assured, if people of faith continue to be marginalized, it is the poor and vulnerable, not the Chairman and his friends, who will suffer.

Catholic social service workers, volunteers and pastors don’t count the cost in financial terms or even in personal safety.  But, we must count the cost to our own faith and morality.  We do not seek to impose our morality on anyone, but neither can we sacrifice it in our own lives and work. The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us. We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness. This is no different from a tobacco control organization not wishing to hire an advocate for smoking or a civil rights organization not wanting to hire someone with a history of racism or an animal rights group wishing to hire only vegetarians.

In a pluralistic society, there will be institutions with views at odds with popular opinion.  The Chairman’s statement suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society. We respect those who disagree with what we teach.  Can they respect us?  We advocate for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that includes a life free from violence and persecution and that includes fair access to good jobs and safe housing.  People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them.

24th Sunday C Homily; Order of the Sons of Italy Memorial Mass

“I am grateful for the invitation to celebrate this memorial Mass in which we commend to the Lord the members of the Grand Lodge of Maryland who, during the past year, have gone home to the Lord. I feel a special connection to the Sons and Daughters of Italy because I am proud to claim Italian heritage myself and because I am so grateful for all the good work that the Order accomplishes – most notably promoting the Italian language, Italian history, culture, and food; offering scholarships for deserving young people and their families, supporting many worthy causes that benefit the wider community, assistance for those facing natural disasters, and so much more. Thank you also for being an integral part of St. Leo’s Parish and for keeping alive Little Italy as a vital part of the City of Baltimore. For this is for so much more, please accept my warmest gratitude.

“During this Mass, Brother Dan Longo will read the names of those members of the Sons of Italy who have gone home to the Lord during the past year. As you hear the names of those who have died, you will gratefully recall the friendship you shared with them in OSIA and you will also recall how they participated in the good works of the Order. And we will join together in asking that the Lord, in his merciful love, take them unto himself and give them the joy of everlasting life. We do this at Mass because the Mass renews the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross by which our sins are forgiven and the gates of heaven are unlocked for us. In every Mass, we share in the Christ’s redeeming love for us: a love which is stronger than sin and more powerful than death; a love which enables our prayers to reach the ears of our heavenly Father; a love which enables our prayers to support our deceased brothers and sisters… and so it could be said that your fraternity spans time and eternity, earth and heaven.”

Read the complete homily HERE.