2017 is drawing to a close and it is time to look back and count all the blessings. Last year I wrote: “I celebrate Mass at the Convent on weekday mornings, teach at the High School during the day, and on weekends, I hear confessions and celebrate Mass at the Parish. Also during the week, I teach an Adult Faith Formation class and conduct a rehearsal for the Chant Schola.” Nothing has changed. I can’t believe how much fun I am having!!
The main event for January ’17 was the Walk for Life. It was a great time to see friends, the faithful from Newark, some of whom make annual pilgrimages to the north for Mass, food and fellowship. February ’17 saw a trip to Oklahoma for the first Regina Conference. There was a handful of us in the conference room and others joined from across America and Europe by video. March ’17 saw the dedication of the Cathedral and the new Baldacchino. The Gregorian chant schola I conduct teamed up with the Marian Sisters to chant the music for the dedication. The next day, I was celebrating Mass at the new High Altar for Gaudete Sunday. This year’s Triduum (April ’17) was pretty extraordinary: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday were all in the Extraordinary Form.
May ’17 was the observance of the 100th Anniversary of the appearances of the Blessed Mother at Fatima. We started with a Rosary in the Parish Hall, a procession with the Statue around the property and along a busy boulevard into the Cathedral, where the new Statue was installed in its niche, then Mass was celebrated and many consecrated themselves to the Virgin.
June ’17 saw another pilgrimage to Rome. It was great to spend time with friends, enjoy terrific food and have marvelous conversations. This included a pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, to the Holy Face in Manoppello, and to Roman sites associated with the Martyrdom of St. Paul. There was also a pilgrimage to the historic shop of Gammarelli where with assistance, I designed and ordered a very Roman Marian Vestment. Pictures of this trip are on my blog, along with pictures of the vestment. June also saw a trip to St. Paul, MN for the annual CMAA colloquium. July ’17 included a trip to Medford, OR for the Sacred Liturgical Conference. Four of the Marian Sisters also attended. Here, I was able to meet Cardinal Burke, but most attendees insisted the best talk was by Bishop Vasa.
August ’17 was the celebration of my 64th birthday. Many friends came from the old parish and we had a marvelous five course dinner here in the Cathedral Rectory. September ’17 saw another trip to Rome; this was a quick trip of four days to attend the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Here, I had a more extensive conversation with Cardinal Burke who reported on conversations with Italian CPPS. He said that they were aware of how bad things were in the USA and he affirmed my intention to leave the CPPS.
September ’17 I began my second season of teaching High School Scripture and Church History. This included even a few evenings of stretching my vocal chords to sing the National Anthem at Football games on cool autumn evenings. October ’17 was the Fire that engulfed much of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties. Many parishioners and students lost their homes. The High School where I teach was heavily damaged by the fire. When school resumed, we gathered at four different sites. Now, much of the instruction is done online with Google Classroom.
November ’17 saw the renewal of religious vows for the Marian Sisters, chanting a Missa Cantata each Sunday and celebrating Requiems. December ‘17 will include the efforts to celebrate an occasional Solemn High Mass with Deacons and Subdeacons, and singing a solemn Vespers with the Bishop presiding.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a small part of the beauty of my life: The Amice Art. Each morning the sister sacristan who lays out the vestments creates some wonderful artwork from the Amice ties. These have become internationally famous, having appeared on the New Liturgical Movement blog some three times.
Some of my favorite songs are from this Advent time. They speak of an unspeakable joy awaited, an enrichment celebrated with extravagant joy. Our God has visited his people. My prayer for you in this time is that God continues to fill you with his most wonderful gifts. In Christ and in His blood, we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God favor to us. (Eph 1:7) Blessed Christmas.