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Archdiocese marks 52nd anniversary

Archbishop Wenski says Mary, the rosary can help Catholics face future 'with confidence'

Archbishop Thomas Wenski speaks during the Mass marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Archdiocese of Miami.

Photographer: TERESA MARTINEZ | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski speaks during the Mass marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Archdiocese of Miami.

Homily delivered by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the Mass marking the 52nd anniversary of the Archdiocese of Miami. The Mass was celebrated in St. Martha Church, next door to the archdiocesan Pastoral Center.

Fifty-two years ago today, this local Church was born.  The then Diocese of Miami encompassed about half the state – and while our territory has shrunk, our population has continued to grow.

On this date, it would be appropriate to recall that Miami now is the seventh largest city in the nation – and that our Sunshine State, the fourth most populous in the nation, will probably have – as the result of the 2010 census – as many congressional representatives as the Empire State, New York.

We can speak of the challenges that Florida – and the Archdiocese of Miami – face; however, these challenges still are challenges of growth and the opportunities that growth presents us with.

So, in observing this anniversary, we can – as Pope John Paul II said during the Great Jubilee of 2000 – remember the past with gratitude, embrace the present with enthusiasm and look to the future with confidence.

We have much to be grateful for here in the Archdiocese – and today on this anniversary, we remember in gratitude all those who served this local Church, as bishops, priests, deacons, religions and laity, over these past 52 years.  We can thank God for the leadership of bishops like Coleman Carroll, of priests like Msgr. Bryan Walsh.  How could we not honor the memory of a Mother Trinita Flood or a Sister Marie Carroll or give tribute to the witness in the public square of Catholic laity, like Judge Clyde Atkins and Athalie Range. These are just a few of the personalities – all who have gone home to the Lord – of the many we could mention.  Yes, we can remember the past with gratitude, indeed!

I spoke of the challenges we face in Florida and here in the Archdiocese – these must be faced with enthusiasm.  Indeed, how fortunate we are – whether we are priests, deacons, religious or lay, If we are working for the Archdiocese, we are involved in ministry.  It’s not just a job. What we do, and how we do what we do – matters.  Working in the Church, and for the Church, means that daily we touch lives – and we change lives.  So, keeping this in mind should inspire enthusiasm – and also call forth from each of us our best efforts.

Ivonne Diaz, left, and Miriam Ato of the finance office pray during the Mass.

Photographer: TERESA MARTINEZ | FC

Ivonne Diaz, left, and Miriam Ato of the finance office pray during the Mass.

In every celebration of the Mass, we proclaim our faith in a future of hope – the future of hope which is our eternal communion with the Triune God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Eucharist is a foretaste, an anticipation of that communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  The Mass, then, helps us to look to the future with confidence – no matter what difficulties or crosses we may have to face or endure.

Of course, this anniversary of the Archdiocese is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Pope John Paul II said that “the Rosary is a way of contemplating the face of Christ, seeing him - we may say - with the eyes of Mary.”

Seeing Christ “with the eyes of Mary” is one way for us to be sure that we see Christ as he truly is.  In Jesus’ time, many people thought they knew Jesus but they didn’t.  Some thought him to be Elijah or another prophet; others dismissed him as only Joseph’s son; and few considered him a brigand or a fraud.

Seeing Christ “with the eyes of Mary” – this means also seeing him through the eyes of the Church - allows us to encounter the one to whom we can commit our lives; it allows us to experience the one hope that will never disappoint.

The Rosary is, therefore, a great prayer – one readily accessible to the learned as well as the unlearned, a prayer that engages us with the Gospel – as we contemplate the mysteries, the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, of our salvation.

But, besides being a prayer of contemplation, it is a powerful prayer of intercession.

This feast was instituted in thanksgiving for the intercession of Mary in securing the victory of the Christian forces against the Turkish navies at Lepanto.

And I remember vividly praying the rosary in my elementary school, every child in every classroom on our knees, during the Cuban missile crisis.  That was the time when the world came closest to nuclear war.   For much of our lifetimes, the world was threatened by weapons of mass destruction.  And yet the Cold War ended not in nuclear conflagration but without a shot being fired.  Who couldn’t say that this wasn’t due to the countless rosaries offered by thousands of faithful behind the Iron Curtain?

We, of course, today still face the continued threat of weapons of mass destruction.  

Nine years ago today the war in Afghanistan began – because of the threat that came from that beleaguered nation on September 11, 2001.  Today, the Feast of the Holy Rosary reminds us to use the rosary, our weapon of mass conversion, to pray for peace.

And as we remember the past 52 years with gratitude and embrace the challenges of our present with enthusiasm, we seek Mary’s intercession for our Archdiocese.  May the prayerful recitation of the rosary win us Mary’s assistance so that we continue our mission as Catholics here in South Florida.  May her rosary be our weapon of mass conversion in bringing people to knowledge of Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation.

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