I am delighted to return to Our Lady of Victory for the installation of Father Bill Keown as your pastor. During this past year, dear friends, you have witnessed his priestly dedication, his enthusiasm for the mission, his vision, and his energy. In officially installing Father Keown, I join you in expressing gratitude for his service, and confidence in his leadership of Our Lady of Victory Parish in the years ahead.
First, let me say that I am delighted to return to St. Joseph Monastery to offer Mass with you and for you in this very beautiful setting. I am always happy as well for an opportunity to join with you in affirming the energetic and devoted leadership of Father Mike – thank you so much for your priestly dedication! I also greet Fr. Evan Ponton and parishioners from St. John’s in Severna Park, the sister-parish of St. Joseph’s Monastery, and I also greet Fr. James Proffitt, formerly the Pastor of St. John’s, and now Director of Clergy Personnel.
Thank you very much, Msgr. Woy and Fr. Ewing. I am happy to confirm the candidates from this Cathedral Parish whom you just presented and to whose preparedness you have testified. Let me now offer a word of encouragement to you, our confirmation candidates, and then a word of encouragement to your sponsors and parents.
Years ago, when I was in the sixth or seventh grade, the Catholic school I attended decided that math would be taught in a new way. Instead of our old familiar arithmetic textbooks, ‘new and improved’ math books were given us. In fact, we were no longer studying arithmetic; now it was called the “new math”.
Last Easter Sunday, some people predicted that, come Easter Sunday 2021, the pandemic would be over and that a blessed normality would return. Obviously, such predictions proved to be overly optimistic. There are, of course, signs of progress. An increasing number of people are being tested and vaccinated. Government officials have lifted some restrictions on travel and public activities, and schools are now permitting students to be distanced three feet apart, not six. Even as positivity rates rise, there is, nonetheless, an optimistic feeling in the air.
Someone once described the Palm Sunday liturgy as one liturgy with two unconnected halves. The first part is joyous and triumphal, as Jesus enters into his city, Jerusalem, amid shouts of joy. The second part is seen as dismal, sorrowful, and even brutal as Jesus suffers and dies on the Cross.
On May 10, 1940, as the flames of war were engulfing Europe, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England. Churchill had already held many high governmental positions, for example, he was twice First Lord of the Admiralty and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I am delighted to return to St. Philip Neri on this Laetare Sunday to bless your beautifully renovated church and to dedicate your beautiful new altar. The church has truly undergone a wondrous transformation, and with you, I’d like to recognize the leadership of Fr. DeAscanis that has made all this possible. At the same time, I want to thank all those who provided their skill and expertise – architects, artisans, builders, construction workers, and many more. Above all, I wish to thank and congratulate you, the parish family of Philip Neri. Your love for your parish, coupled with a spirit of generosity, are etched in the beauty of this church which will serve well many generations of Catholics.
Some years ago, a friend of mine was full of indignation over a trifling situation. I urged my friend to move beyond his anger as quickly as possible, because anger is bad for the soul and bad for one’s health. Not ready to let go of his intense feelings, my friend retorted, “But Jesus got angry. Just look at what he did to merchants in the temple!”
“Experience has taught me that prayer, reflection, and discernment are powerful. I became aware of my calling to be a priest when I was very young, in grade school. Even so, at every step of the way, I needed to pray and to reflect on that calling, to test that calling, to see if it was real and if my response was genuine and wholehearted. Indeed, a priestly vocation often begins like a flickering flame, a flame that could so easily be extinguished by winds of culture and personal desire. Prayer, reflection, and discernment help keep that flame from going out, and if the call is real and your response is genuine, that flame will grow stronger. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will set your hearts aflame with love for the Lord, so that you will readily respond to whatever it is our Savior might be asking of you.“