Tuesday, July 23, 2024

St. Richard Parish Warmly Welcomes Bishop Senior for First Pastoral Visit

On an unseasonably warm March day, Bishop Timothy Senior celebrated Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent for the Catholic faithful in Manheim. This was the bishop’s first visit to the parish, which Father Stephen Weitzel, pastor, said was an honor, given the parish is on the smaller size. Following the Mass, the community gathered with the bishop for a homemade Italian lunch.

In speaking with the faithful of the parish, Bishop Senior explained how the day’s Gospel reading invites us to take a hard look at the false gods we may have in our lives. The Gospel reading from John spoke about Jesus going to Jerusalem for Passover, where He comes upon the merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves in the temple area. We read that Jesus “made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”

“People are amazed by how He behaves and what He is saying, and they say, ‘Give us a sign, what are you doing?’” said Bishop Senior. “And He says, this temple will be torn down and in three days raised up. Of course He’s not talking about the temple, but the temple of His Body. The death and resurrection of Christ is the ultimate sign of Jesus as the incarnate word of God, coming to fulfil all that the temple was about, all that the law and the prophets were leading towards. But they don’t understand. They don’t understand it until much later, John tells us.”

Toward the end of the Gospel reading, we hear that many of the onlookers began to believe in Jesus after seeing the signs, but He “would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.”

“What He saw was a superficial faith. They’re making His signs, a god. Just like the religious leaders were making the practice of the law a god. He understands our tendency to have a short-term focus, to want immediate gratification. And what does He really ask of us? He asked again, what do the Ten Commandments, the law of God, require? Trust and surrender,” said the bishop. “The way to eternal salvation is the way of the Cross. To set aside all false gods. To look beyond the signs….But first, we must look at those areas of our lives where we might have other gods that seem to take hold of us.”

The Catholic presence in the Borough of Manheim dates back to 1949, when a group of eight children gathered in a private home for religious education instruction. Three years later, in 1952, the Catholics in Manheim respectfully requested that Catholic Masses be celebrated in their community. The first Mass was celebrated on November 22, 1953, by Father Cletus A. Hauck, the pastor in Elizabethtown. Mass was held in the Union Hall with over 120 people in attendance.

On December 2, 1956, following a vigorous building fund campaign, Msgr. Charles J. Tighe, Dean of the Lancaster District (now called Deanery), broke ground, officially starting the construction for Saint Richard Church and parish social center. The building was solemnly blessed and dedicated by Bishop George L. Leech on Sunday, November 3, 1957.

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness

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