By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press
WORCESTER – Moving forward was a key theme as the new Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish hosted Bishop McManus Sunday.
“I wanted him to come, as the bishop, to underscore the importance of coming together as a community of faith,” said Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, pastor. “His coming was a shot in the arm that we needed.”
The bishop merged Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann and Our Lady of Loreto parishes Feb. 1, to the relief of some people and the dismay of others. The new parish is called Our Lady of Mount Carmel and uses Our Lady of Loreto Church, which retained its name.
Last week offices were moved from Mount Carmel’s center on Mulberry Street to the Loreto campus on Massasoit Road, Msgr. Pedone said. The Mount Carmel center will still be used for some parish activities, and for events for which it is being rented through June, he said.
Also last week the new property committee he formed began meetings about what to do with the buildings and land on Mulberry Street, he said.
He said the committee consists of five parishioners and two specialists versed in the areas of architecture, construction, real estate and fundraising. It is to work with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Worcester Business Development Corporation.
The committee’s ideas are to be brought before the parish, Msgr. Pedone said. The committee will make recommendations to the parish council and to him, and he will take those recommendations to the bishop and the diocesan Building Commission, he said. Ultimately he and the bishop will need to make the decisions, he said.
The parish is also planning to develop new ministries, building upon some ministries it already has, Msgr. Pedone said. He stressed the importance of outreach and evangelization.
Masses have been celebrated at Loreto since Mount Carmel Church was closed last May for safety reasons, because of costly structural problems.
The Mount Carmel Preservation Society, a private group that got the city involved in their efforts to save Mount Carmel Church, asked Bishop McManus to reconsider the merger, said the group’s president, Mauro DePasquale. The bishop declined, so they are preparing to appeal to the Vatican, Mr. DePasquale said. He said details would be revealed after the meeting they scheduled for last night.
Other people have expressed support for the bishop’s decision. Msgr. Pedone said he, the parish council and parishioners wanted the bishop to come visit, and his coming paid tribute to the parish for working together for the mission of the Church.
Bishop McManus told the congregation that he came to celebrate this Mass of new beginnings for the parish and said that they are beginning a new adventure in faith.
He encouraged them to recall all the good accomplished in the two parishes, good that was done under God, who wants all to be saved.
The first reading from Isaiah 49, about God never forgetting his people, provided words of comfort as the parish moves forward, the bishop said.
He said parishioners were beginning a new life of grace in an authentically Catholic way – with Mass, at which they would be fed by the Body of Christ. He called on them to reclaim their Catholic identity and leave the Mass as more joyful witnesses.
“I’m grateful for all your support,” Msgr. Pedone told the congregation at the end of Mass. “I know the Lord is directing us.”
Bishop McManus then said he wanted to publicly commend Msgr. Pedone for his leadership, adding that he knew it has been difficult for him recently, and praising how he conducted himself. The congregation applauded.
Msgr. Pedone told The Catholic Free Press that he was pleased to have two bishops at the 10 a.m. Mass. Bishop Rueger, whose 30th anniversary of episcopal ordination was Saturday, came to that Mass, as usual. The retired bishop resides with him in the rectory beside Mount Carmel Church.
There was an added feature to the Mass this Sunday. Bishop McManus admitted to candidacy for holy orders Michael Hoye and Lucas LaRoche, whom he has invited to apply for studies at the North American College in Rome. Mr. Hoye is from St. Mark Parish in Sutton and Mr. LaRoche is from Annunciation Parish in Gardner.
Msgr. Pedone expressed appreciation that Bishop McManus sent the seminarians on to a new step in their journey at this Mass for the new parish.
“People never see those things,” he said. “Those happen in the seminary. The seminarians’ families see them. … People were very impressed. We had a lot of young people there to witness that.”
In his homily Bishop McManus had talked about a vocation being a gift to the priest, his family and the entire Church. Without priests there is no Eucharist and without the Eucharist there is no Church, he said.
A vocation is also a mystery, he said; God chooses men who may seem weak and simple to carry on Jesus’ mission, “to stand in the midst of you, God’s people … to show you the beautiful face of Christ.” The priest is to point out Jesus, not himself, because Jesus alone is the way, truth and life.