Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Feast of the Epiphany: the Light and the Gifts

So today is the Feast of the Epiphany. That is the time we recognize the ‘shinning forth”, the incarnation. It is also the time that we recognize the Magi appearing to honor the infant Jesus.

This year however the Feast has multiple meanings. For the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese this is the end of our Jubilee Year, the 150 year anniversary of the Dioceses. It has been a memorable year. A Jubilee Cross made its way to every church in the diocese to be venerated. It was even at the University of Saint Francis. When it was time to move on to Precious Blood Parish it was escorted down Spring Street by students from USF and Precious Blood. This was the year of the pilgrims as seminary students and lay members walked and prayed from South Bend to the Cathedral in Fort Wayne. This was the year of celebrating Bishop D’Arcy’s 50 years of being a priest. The Mass was breath-taking. This was the year of the Eucharistic Congress at Notre Dame University. Today ends that incredible year.

The Diocese is worth celebrating. For a quiet little Hoosier diocese we have a special history. We started under the Bishop of Quebec and then under the Bishop of Baltimore, then Bardstown Kentucky (a very cool town) and finally of Vincennes. It was not until 1850’s that the Dioceses of Fort Wayne was created.

During those 150 short years we have had an impact that is far bigger than our numbers or geographic location would indicate. We have had impressive bishops including Luers, Dwenger and Knoll. We are home to the University of Saint Francis but to be honest the rest of the world knows us as home to the Catholic Harvard, Notre Dame University. The only Hoosier Saint, St. Theodore Guerin was instrumental in starting the Fort Wayne Catholic School system. Today our local Catholic Charities serve refugees from Burma, Afghanistan, Chad, Sudan, Somalia and a number of other counties. Our Universal Church is in fact becoming universal as we continue to welcome priests to our parishes from around the world. Our Sunday Visitor located in Huntington impacts Catholics all around the nation.

On a far more personal level, the Feast of the Epiphany is also the day our local Secular Franciscan Order, the Holy Family Fraternity celebrated its Christmas holiday season. We had a special Mass at USF. Afterwards we had great food, thoughtful presents and fantastic fellowship. We also have a lot to celebrate. Two of our members, Kathy Harpel and Shirley Bertels made their final professions this past year. We had a guest speaker talk about the plight of the citizens of Darfur and we made contributions for solar cookers for the refugees in Darfur. Events included a tour of the Bass Mansion and a retreat. It has been a good year.

So what do all of these events and people have to do with the Feast of the Epiphany? If the Epiphany is recognizing the “shinning” into the world then everything that follows are the fruits of that shinning. If the Epiphany is celebrating the Magi and their presentation of gifts to the infant Jesus than we are also celebrating our gifts, to one another and to the child. It has been a great year and it has been a great day.


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