Two years ago I devoted this column to the problems of casino
gambling. Before that column was published, and since, I have spoken on
television, radio, and at local meetings about casino gambling. Back in
the 1970s, I was involved at the State level in discussions on the same
On Saturday, June 14, in Saint Joseph's Cathedral, I ordained six
excellent men to the Permanent Diaconate: Philip Amantia Sr., Paul
Emerson, Mark Nowak, Thomas Scherr, Paul L. Snyder III, and Stephen
Swinarski. A capacity congregation offered praise and thanksgiving to
God from hearts filled with respect and appreciation for such wonderful
blessings on our Diocese.
Every day presents its own challenges, and no week is immune from
difficulties, but recent weeks and months have been particularly trying.
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, presented a special gift to the
Church this past Holy Thursday. He published a beautiful encyclical,
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, on the relationship of the Eucharist and the
During the Civil War 140 years ago people would go out from
Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon with champagne and sandwiches to
watch the progress of battles in Virginia. In the course of World War I,
when the war of attrition set in, people would gather at sidewalk cafes
in Europe to discuss casually the latest fashions as well as battle
Streaks across the sky filled our television screens and our
consciousness on February 1st, when seven valiant astronauts lost their
lives in the tragic breakup of the space shuttle Columbia. Immediately
our hearts were full of prayers for the magnificent seven, their
families, and all they left behind.
In recent years concerns have been expressed in various parts of the
United States on the need for more collaboration in the policy making
processes and administration of dioceses and religious institutions. As
we begin the New Year, I think it may be helpful to highlight some of
the many structures we have in place in our Diocese which enable
collaboration and promote accountability in our policies and
Christmas brings people together. The exchange of cards conveys ongoing concern for one another.
The First Sunday of Advent, this year December 1st, is New Year's
Day for the Church. It is the beginning of our liturgical year, and very
appropriately in our Diocese we commence by giving priority focus to
the celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope John Paul II gave us a special present on October 16, the 24th
anniversary of his election as Holy Father. He enriched the Rosary.
The discovery of an alleged "sleeper cell" in Lackawanna with
reported ties to al-Qaida has shaken all of us to our socks. Of course
much more work has to be done and clarifications have to be made before
we can draw definitive conclusions on Lackawanna ties with terrorism.
Most of us will never forget where we were when the reports came of
the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001. I was attending a meeting of
the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative
Committee in Washington, D.C.
I am writing this message midst the joy and excitement of World
Youth Day 2002. Yes, I am in Toronto with all our wonderful delegation
from the Diocese of Buffalo. Because of publishing deadlines I am
sending these thoughts on now, before this magnificent event concludes.
No question about it, the meeting of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops in Dallas from June 13 to 15 was a landmark event. The
attention it attracted was unprecedented, and its results will be
discussed and acted upon for a long time to come.
The priesthood goes on, the Church goes on, we all go on.
The recent meeting hosted by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II for
American Cardinals and Bishops, as well as for Vatican officials, was an
historic occasion. On the matter of clergy sexual abuse of minors,
labeled by our Holy Father as "a crime and an appalling sin," it raised
an already acute sensitivity to an even higher level.
At the beginning of Saint Ignatius' classic "Spiritual Exercises,"
retreatants are asked to meditate on sinfulness in the created world.
Immediately after, there is a colloquy in which we focus on the
September 11, 2001 was a jolt. The horrific intrusion into everyday
life stirred us instinctively to prayer: prayer by ourselves, prayer
with others. Religious services and civic observances drew large crowds.
Participation in the Masses on weekends shot up. Those with a merely
secular outlook said that people simply wanted to be together.
It is often said that resolutions are made to be broken. That statement is often not true.
Happy New Year! No, you don't have to check the bottom of the page
for the date. This is the December issue, and December 2nd is the First
Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Church year.