Saturday, November 23, 2013

Inspired by the Young Church: A reflection from Bishop Bradley

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Greetings in the Love of The Lord from Indianapolis!

    Praised be Jesus Christ!   Now and forever.  Amen.

   As a newly-ordained priest back in 1971 in my first pastoral assignment to St. Sebastian Parish in the North Hills of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, I was assigned to be the priest in charge of CYO (which stands for Catholic Youth Organization).  I have to admit that at first, I was a bit intimidated; however, that assignment set me on a path of particular love for, appreciation of, and commitment to the "young Church" that has been an important part of my ministry as a priest, and now as a bishop.
    Forty plus years later, I find myself here at the NCYC Conference in Indianapolis in the midst of close to 25,000 young people and adult chaperones/youth moderators from all over the country who have sacrificed a lot to come here for three days to focus on and celebrate who we are as Catholics and beloved Children of God.  Among those nearly 25,000 were close to 90 young people and adults from the Diocese of Kalamazoo.  I was so thrilled to see all these  smiling, enthused, faith-filled young people from our Local Church in our Diocese, and to watch them become completely involved in the excitement and energy that fills the huge spaces of the Indiana Convention Center and the Lucas Oil Stadium.  In addition to that, I was so pleased to find myself joined with a large number of other bishops as well as hundreds of priests, deacons, religious women and men, and committed adults, both married and single, who also sacrificed a lot to be here because they share that same passion and commitment to the Young Church.
     As I mentioned, the main experience I saw over these three days is that of LIFE----fully alive young people who are still growing into the people God has called them to be, and all that comes from that:  noise, constant movement, excitement, playfulness, joy, exploration, and most especially, "wonder and awe" in the face of new discoveries of themselves, of the Catholic Faith, and their relationship with our Loving God.  These same young people who love to dress in funny hats, toss the beach balls down the hallways, and eat incredible amounts of junk food, are the same kids who are falling more deeply in love with the God Who loves them, coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to be members of  the Body of Christ and the Catholic Church, and who fall to their knees in silent reverence in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass or during the Eucharistic Adoration at the Holy Hours.
    This morning, the final day of this great gathering, the entire delegation from our Diocese came together to celebrate Mass and to share breakfast before everyone began the grueling schedule of this last day.   This gathering, as well as the coordination of all the details and arrangements to get everyone safely here, and back to Kalamazoo, has gone so well thanks to Mr. Tim McNamara, the Associate Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and Ms. Lisa Irwin, the former Director and currently Associate Director for the Sanctity of Human Life.  I am very grateful to them, and all who worked with them, to make this experience for these young people of our Diocese a reality.  For me, our celebration of the Holy Mass this morning, joined by Father Chris Ankley who concelebrated the Mass with me, was a beautiful expression of our relationship as Bishop, priests and members of the Faithful, united together in our strong Catholic Faith.  We should all be very encouraged that the Young Church is alive and well, both here in our Diocese of Kalamazoo, and throughout the Church in the United States.
     Faithfully yours in Christ,

     + Bishop Paul J. Bradley


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