Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Mary, Gate of Heaven Parish Welcomes Bishop Senior for a Pastoral Visit

On the seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12, the Sunday preceding Pentecost, Bishop Timothy Senior traveled to the far reaches of eastern Lebanon County to celebrate Holy Mass for the faithful in Myerstown at Mary, Gate of Heaven Church.

Since 1926, Catholics have been celebrating their faith in Myerstown – a town that pre-dates the American Revolution. First established as a mission church to the former St. Gertrude Parish in Lebanon, the Italian and German immigrants that lived in the small town gathered in an old grain storage warehouse for Holy Mass for many decades. There were 150 founding members, mostly Italian-speaking faithful, who humbly established the faith for the mission. It obtained parish status in 1968 and soon after a new church was built in 1970 at the current location on McKinley Avenue, a mile off Route 422 that runs from Hershey through Reading to Philadelphia.

The church underwent major renovations in 2013 when longtime pastor Father Robert Berger added a spacious narthex and striking cupola with stained-glass windows depicting the sacraments. The current pastor is Father David Hereshko, who warmly welcomed Bishop Senior to the parish for the celebration, which coincided with Mother’s Day.

In his homily, Bishop Senior expressed what a beautiful part of the Diocese the most eastern reaches are, with rolling farmlands and abundant pastural scenes. “It is a great blessing to be the Bishop of Harrisburg,” he said. “It’s almost 11 months now; it has been a wonderful gift to be your bishop.”

“All of us have had the feeling of not making the team, not getting the job or being rejected, and not doing maybe what we thought we may be doing with our lives and in the world. But we are all chosen…,” Bishop Senior told the full church. “It is God’s choice how we are called…. How do you live God’s mission in your life? We all have been consecrated in a unique way…. How we love more visibly, be more patient and let go of prejudices shows God’s love in a very visible way. We are consecrated to make Jesus visible in us – to show His love. That is our mission.”

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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