Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena

April 29 is the Feast Day of St. Catharine of Siena, the patroness of our Cathedral. However, we are not going to celebrate that Feast in the Diocese, because there is something more important on our calendar. It is the anniversary of the dedication of our Cathedral Church.

Bishop Joseph McShea solemnly consecrated the Cathedral on April 29, 1981. So, the Diocese celebrates the dedication, which liturgically takes precedence. Let us reflect on that a bit. We celebrate the dedication of a church building to remind us that we are the Church, the People of God. The building where we gather is a symbol of the Christian community.

Our Cathedral is a symbol of the People of God of the Diocese of Allentown. When we think of the “Church,” the people, we often think of our parish or the universal Church worldwide. But let us not forget about the Diocese. A diocese is not just an administrative unit. It is a local Church that makes the reality of the Church of Christ present in a particular place.

We, the people, are “the Diocese,” not just the Bishop, although he is an important member, since as successor of the Apostles, he is the center point of the Diocese. Neither is it the bureaucracy, if you will, the various Secretariats and Offices. They exist to serve us, the members of the Diocese, and to help the Bishop guide and govern us.

Scripture tells us, “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house” (1Pt 2, 5). Just as the stones that make up a building give it stability and structure, we should be living support to our Diocesan Church.

That means taking part in diocesan initiatives. For example, the recently completed Disciple Makers Index survey of the Next Generation Diocese. This was done to gather our input. Or the Because We Are Catholic Appeal, which is not an appeal of a far-off organization but our outreach, as the people of the Diocese, to the needy.

Naturally, we should be interested in what Bishop Alfred Schlert has to say. He sits in the chair of the Apostles and is our guide. Also, we should look to participate in diocesan events such as the Chrism Mass or the recent Lenten retreat series.

The Church is a theologically complex reality. It is not a multinational organization with branch offices all over. It is the presence of Christ in the world. A Diocesan Church, gathered around their shepherd, the Bishop, as the successor of the Apostles, makes the reality of the Church present in one particular area. We are to shine the light of Christ's love and truth in our five-county area by being living stones alive in the Christian Faith.

To do this, we naturally need to pray for our Diocese. Pray that the Diocese of Allentown becomes the Church the Lord wants it to be to carry out His mission. On that note, let me close with a prayer from the Common of the Dedication of a Church from the Roman Missal:

“Oh God, who from living and chosen stones, prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty, increase in your Church the grace you have bestowed, so that by unceasing growth your faithful people may build up the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

By Monsignor William Baker, pastor of All Saints, McAdoo.


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