Pilgrimages: Panama or closer to home, provide opportunities for growth

| February 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Bishop Andrew Cozzens

Bishop Andrew Cozzens

Last week I had the incredible privilege to join almost 60 youth and young adults on a pilgrimage to Panama to join the youth of the world called together by Pope Francis for World Youth Day. Over 400,000 pilgrims made their way to Panama for this unique Catholic extravaganza of faith. As I told the pilgrims from our archdiocese, this is a pilgrimage and not a vacation. Pilgrimage is an opportunity to grow in faith and to discover or rediscover the purpose of our lives. This being my fifth World Youth Day, I’m always amazed at the genius of St. John Paul II in founding these incredible events. When you bring Catholic youth together from all over the world and encourage them to celebrate the gift of faith, receive catechesis, go to confession, participate in eucharistic adoration and celebrate Mass with the successor of St. Peter, the Holy Spirit always works powerfully in their hearts. Conversions happen, vocations are discovered and the young people realize the depth, beauty and universality of our Catholic faith. This was certainly true of our group of pilgrims who each in their own way shared how they encountered Christ, whether through powerful moments of adoration or the sacrament of confession, or the suffering of the pilgrimage or times of prayer ministry we offered them. They discovered that the Catholic faith is alive in our world through encountering so many young people who also love Christ and experience the gift of the Church. They discovered that Jesus Christ is calling them to a life of holiness to become truly his disciples and to surrender their lives to him.

World Youth Day is a profound experience of the Church, especially her universal nature. It reveals how important it is for us to come together in the Church to strengthen each other in this call to holiness which we all share. None of us can live holiness alone, which is why Christ gave us the Church and her life of prayer and sacraments through which we are united to Christ as branches on the vine (John 15). If we separate ourselves from the Church, even when we see the weakness and sinfulness of our own lives or those of others in the Church, we separate ourselves from the source of holiness which is the vine of Christ. When we come together to share this wonderful life of Christ we are strengthened and invited to the fullness of life in Christ (John 10:10).

But we don’t have to go to Panama to experience this. This next month offers two wonderful opportunities for Catholics locally to come together and be strengthened in their call to holiness: our Archdiocesan Men’s and Women’s conferences. Women in the New Evangelization (WINE) will bring hundreds of women together on Saturday March 1, to explore how to live out God’s providential plan for their lives and how he has beautifully united Catholic women in his Spirit for such a time as this to live out that plan. The conference, with emcee Alyssa Bormes, includes inspirational talks by Catholic singer and storyteller ValLimar Jansen; Catholic evangelist, author and retreat leader, Kathleen Beckman; St. Paul’s own Bible teacher, author and singer, Elizabeth Kelly; and Catholic speaker, author and founder of WINE, Kelly Wahlquist.

The Archdiocesan Men’s Conference on Saturday, March 23, will bring together over 1,000 Catholic men to learn about living as men of integrity. We will be inspired by Catholic evangelist and Relevant Radio host Patrick Madrid. We will have Mass with Archbishop Bernard Hebda. We will have breakout sessions to focus on the different needs of Catholic men, from growth in virtue through Exodus 90 to how to be a faithful husband and father. And of course, both conferences will provide opportunities for Mass and confession.

Just like those thousands of young people who made great sacrifices to come together to discover and commit themselves to a life of holiness at World Youth Day, so also as women and men of this archdiocese we need these conferences to be inspired and to recommit ourselves to following Christ. Both conferences are excellent opportunities to invite a friend who you know may have fallen away from the Church or needs a boost in their faith. None of us can live this life of holiness alone; it requires sacrifices to make growing in our faith a priority. But if you will make that sacrifice and come to our women’s or men’s conferences,

I know you will find yourself renewed in your own life of holiness in the Church.

Panamá o más cerca de casa, ambos ofrecen oportunidades únicas para el crecimiento

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Category: Only Jesus