Year of Faith: Celebration unites Catholics
MANCHESTER - As their counterparts did in Catholic churches around the world, hundreds of the faithful from New Hampshire gathered Thursday for a solemn Pontifical Mass celebrating the opening of the Year of Faith.
The Most Rev. Peter Libasci, bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, celebrated the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph and called the Year of Faith an opportunity to reinvigorate the gospel in modern society.
'Tonight we are in union with the church throughout the whole world as we open the year of faith,' Libasci said during his homily. 'From all different parishes, people are coming to pray with and for our diocese.'
The opening of the Year of Faith coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, which produced major changes - including the celebration of the Mass in the language spoken by the congregation, rather than in Latin.
During the Mass, Libasci read the text of the homily delivered Thursday by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.
The pontiff focused on the need for evangelism in the modern world. He urged Catholics to recall the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and bring the teachings of the church to a world in which the void created by the absence of God in daily life has spread beyond that experienced in 1962.
'It was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us,' the pontiff said. 'Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.'
Libasci concluded with some ancient questions and answers from the catechism, starting with the query and response at the core of the Catholic faith, 'Who made you? God made me.'
During his closing remarks, the bishop took note of the punctuation provided to his message by the loud cooing of Irene Milligan, one of 14 children of Germaine and Dr. Francis Milligan, a Contoocook physician. The couple sat with Irene's twin, Kathleen, and two other daughters, Moira and Evie. Five of the couple's 10 other children stood as altar servers during the Mass.
'This is the Year of Faith, which will lead us to the Year of Hope, and to an eternity of love in the presence of almighty God,' the bishop concluded.