diofav 23

Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

081717 jubilee mass 2CHARLOTTE — The Church in western North Carolina is growing, and these "exciting times in our diocese" are all thanks to the Holy Spirit.
That was the message from Bishop Peter Jugis during the jubilee year Mass for priests Aug. 17.
Approximately 60 priests, including Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari from Belmont Abbey, joined Bishop Jugis for the jubilee Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral.
Bishop Emeritus William Curlin was principally honored during the Mass for his 60 years of priestly ministry. Bishop Curlin, who served as the third Bishop of Charlotte from 1994 to 2002, received prolonged applause from the priests and congregation at the end of Mass.
The Mass was also offered in thanksgiving for those celebrating 25 years of ordained ministry: Father Herbert Burke, Father George Byers, Father Stephen Hoyt, Father Andrew Latsko and Father John Putnam. Monsignor John McSweeney was also honored on the occasion of his retirement.
In his homily, Bishop Jugis expressed gratitude to all of the priests for their service to Christ and His Church in western North Carolina – especially as it has grown over the past 45 years.
The Mass was offered during the diocese's annual Priests’ Convocation Aug. 16-18, which focused on the theme “Missionary Discipleship: The Art and Spirituality of Pastoring in a Culturally Diverse Diocese.”
This topic was particularly appropriate, Bishop Jugis noted, as he reflected on the growth and increasing diversity of the Charlotte diocese.
The number of Catholics living in western North Carolina has risen from just a few hundred in 1876, when the Benedictine monks founded Belmont Abbey, to more than 450,000 today.
Beyond the dramatic increase in numbers, the Catholic population has also become more diverse, Bishop Jugis noted.
"When all of us began serving in the Diocese of Charlotte, no matter what year it happened to have been, there was not the kind of diversity that we experience today," he said.
"The Holy Spirit is constantly revealing for us new dimensions of the meaning of the words 'one holy, catholic and apostolic.'"
Now, Mass is offered weekly in the Maronite rite, Ukrainian rite and Syro-Malabar rite, as well as monthly in the Ge'ez rite.
"And their bishops have even appointed priests who are here with us to live here, to better serve the faithful of our sister churches," he said.
There's also incredible diversity in the Roman rite Church, he noted, with Masses offered weekly in English, Spanish, Hmong, Korean and Vietnamese, as well as occasionally in Polish and Igbo.
"Mass in the Extraordinary Form is also offered every week," he added.
"And it's all the work of the Holy Spirit," he told the priests. "This is Catholicism … It is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and it's all happening right here. And you are a part of it – you are the ones making it happen."
"I must thank you and commend you, my brothers, for all that you are doing to meet the pastoral needs of this growing, diverse Catholic population. It's a lot of work, and I know that you are working hard," he said.
"I also thank you for serving with joy and with genuine love for your parishioners, because that reveals to all of us that you have a shepherd's heart."
"As we honor our brothers on their jubilees of priesthood and retirement, let us all be grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given us to serve in these exciting times in our diocese," he prayed. "May we return to Him 30-, 60-, 100-fold for all that He has given us."

— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor