By Franz Klein
Special to The Texas Catholic
Catholics from throughout the diocese gathered at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe Oct. 14 for a special Mass to inaugurate a year-long effort to deepen and enliven people’s faith.
The Sunday liturgy at the cathedral — presided over by Bishop Kevin J. Farrell and attended by representatives from parishes in the diocese — was the local diocesan event marking the opening of a worldwide Year of Faith, declared by Pope Benedict XVI and set to run through Nov. 24, 2013.
The Year of Faith officially began with a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The special year, the Holy Father wrote in his Apostolic Letter “Porta Fidei,” will be a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world.”
Conversion was a theme Bishop Farrell emphasized in his homily on Oct. 14 — both the personal conversion of each individual believer and the conversion of a wider culture that has experienced a profound “crisis of faith” in the half century following the Second Vatican Council. The bishop echoed the Holy Father’s suggestion that Catholics spend the year studying their faith — reading the Bible and the catechism — as well as intensifying their charitable actions and examining closely the message contained in the Council documents.
“It is not enough for us as Christians, as Catholics, to sit around, to look back with nostalgia at the church gone-by, of 50 years ago,” the bishop said. “It is not enough for us to sit around and criticize the culture of the present day. As Christians, Pope Benedict tells us, it falls to us, to each one of us, to change the culture of this day by rediscovering Jesus Christ and by teaching that Word to all people by our Christian witness in this world.”
Catholics representing their parishes were each given holy cards and a candle for their parishes to use during Year of Faith events. “In celebrating this opening Mass for the Year of Faith, all of the parishes gathered to authentically reflect the vision of Pope Benedict XVI in his encouragement toward re-imagining the idea of communio,” said Dr. Patricia J. Hughes, director of the Office of Worship for the diocese. “ In a clear sense, we’ve put liturgy and relationship into a beautiful dialogue, and it’s all framed by our celebration of the Eucharist.”
Michael and Margaret Pack were at the cathedral on Oct. 14 to represent their parish, St. Francis of Assisi in Frisco. They said their parish began showing Father Robert Barron’s “Catholicism Project” series recently as part of its Year of Faith events and already has three different groups meeting to discuss what they learned from the videos.
“Hopefully this year is an opportunity to bring people back to the church or give them a deeper sense of the church,” Margaret Pack said. Evelyn Lopez was proud to be representing her parish, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, at the cathedral liturgy. “I’ve been a Catholic all my life—all 86 years of it,” she said.
Accompanying her was fellow parishioner Tanya Denson, 70. “This year will give me a chance to look at my faith and renew it, and to heed what the bishop said about reading the Bible and really practicing what I read,” Denson said.