Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As August begins, I write with a heavy heart to call to mind a very difficult topic. Many of you may recall that New York State passed the Child Victims Act back in January that opened the statute of limitations for the child victims of sexual abuse. Victims have a year window to bring forward cases, and that window opens on August 15th. In preparation for what may occur, I write with several simple goals in mind.
First, I write so that we may not be surprised when the 15th comes and the Church is once again in the news. There is a high degree of uncertainty in terms of what the day will bring, whether it be for the diocese or individual parishes, including our own. I do not doubt it will be a difficult day that opens wounds and brings to light a great deal of darkness. It is valuable, I believe, to be prepared.
My second and more important purpose then, in preparing for this day, is to urge the parish to once again focus on prayer. As you may recall, the initial impetus for the inclusion of the St. Michael prayer at the end of Mass and the extended Monday Adoration was the request of parishioners who felt this was a time when the need for prayer was paramount. So in this time, we pray first and foremost for victims and their families. We can never downplay or underestimate the pain and suffering caused to those most vulnerable among us, and we hope that they find comfort and healing in the Divine Physician who alone can care for such spiritual hardship. We pray also for the perpetrators. Though it may be difficult, we heed Christ’s call to pray even for our enemies and those who do not deserve it, because they still very much need it. It should pain us that a child of God would commit such acts, and we hope they seek forgiveness and make reparations to the best of their abilities. We also pray in this time for the Church. We know that the failings of its members does not take away from the beauty of Christ’s message, but that beauty can be obscured and many may be turned from the truth of our faith because of such failings. Let us pray that witnesses may rise up, especially in our own community, who serve as a testimony to others that though some may fall short, we are not Catholic because of individuals, we are Catholic because of Christ and the divine institution of the Church.
So while none of us are personally responsibility for what has occurred, we know that we are all part of the Body of Christ, and we can do our part by prayer and making offerings for others. Let us try in an intentional way to do that this month. One way in particular I would ask that we do so is that you join me in a pray vigil the night of August 14th into the morning of August 15th. I see it as providential that this event occurs on
the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, so I ask that we entrust the Church in this time to our Immaculate Mother, Our Lady, Notre Dame. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed following the 5PM Mass on the evening of the 14th, and Benediction will occur at 8AM on the morning of the 15th. Sign up sheets will be available at the front doors of the Church throughout the next two weeks, so we can be sure that someone will be present at all hours, but I know I will be present in those small hours to implore God, through Christ and the intercession of His Blessed Mother, to be powerfully present to us all.
Yours in Christ,