Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Life and Dignity Mass Celebrated by Bishop Senior at St. Joseph in Mechanicsburg

October is Respect Life Month and, to close the month, Bishop Timothy Senior celebrated the Diocese’s annual Life and Dignity Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, Mechanicsburg, on October 29. Formerly known as the Mass Celebrating the Dignity of  People with Disabilities, this celebration is now termed the Life and Dignity Mass, sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Catholic Life and Evangelization (CLEV).

“Life and Dignity offers context to our ministries to persons living with disabilities,” said Marianne Weltmer, Diocesan Director for Life and Dignity. “This year, we have focused on unifying our various efforts regarding Respect Life ministries. All human life has intrinsic value and dignity regardless of stage of life, status, or ability; therefore, the name change seeks to highlight this dimension.”

The Mass continues to bring together those with disabilities. Sitting in the forward pews were many of the faithful from the deaf community who worship at St Joseph’s regularly since pastor, Father Thomas Rozman, is expertly versed in signing the Mass.

In his homily, Bishop Senior preached on the love of God and to warmly welcome those with disabilities into the faith community. “How can we not love Our Lord who is so gratuitous to us all,” Bishop Senior said. “There is a beauty to have those with disabilities here with us today as a source of inspiration to us all…. We can never lose sight of the vulnerability of people. We are all vulnerable, all of us.”

Bishop Senior also told the more than 500 faithful in attendance that a note of welcomeness is important when the faithful come to Holy Mass. “Do we pay attention to another person we normally do not pay attention to? Do we welcome and do we accept the challenges so many face? It is a gift to welcome and a challenge.”

Bishop Senior finished by emphasizing three points important to witnessing the love of God and to be more aware of how we treat others, and those who have the challenges of facing life with a disability.

“Are we inclusive in our faith?” Bishop Senior asked. “It is God’s vision to be inclusive. Do we witness to the Cross knowing that we all bear crosses, and those with disabilities are great examples to us. And do we realize that we all need each other – that is the way we grow in holiness, by needing one another.”

After Mass, there was fellowship time in the parish hall with refreshments. Bishop Senior greeted the faithful and posed for photos with a number of those attending the Life and Dignity Mass.

Weltmer said after Mass, “Every human person has gifts, natural and spiritual, that they can offer the Church. Those gifts are welcome. It is incumbent upon each of us to support, encourage and explore each other’s gifts and to celebrate what they mean for the edification of the Body of Christ …. We are one in Christ, and we remind ourselves that though we are individual members with distinctive gifts, none of us stands alone in our salvation.”

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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