75TH JUBILEE HOMILY
The Solemnity of Christ the King has always been important to our parish
and was the obvious choice for our Jubilee.
It’s a modern feast - established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and set for the
last Sunday of the liturgical year – a time to focus on the most important
person the world has ever known - as the year draws to its end.
The pope created this feast to lead the world to peace. Just 7 years after
the end of The Great War, the worst ever fought up to that time, Pope
Pius saw that world again rushing headlong into still a new war.
“As long as individuals and states refuse to submit to the rule of our
Savior,” wrote Pius,“there would be no hopeful prospect of a lasting
peace among nations.” The people of his day had “thrust Jesus Christ
out of their lives,” he said.
We see his thoughts illustrated in this first stained glass window. Angels
and saints are gathered around the throne of the King of Heaven and
inscribed are the names of those continents where men and women of
the earth dwell: America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It’s a
beautiful window. It tells us, my friends, that the world finds peace when
it looks to that King.
1925 was just 11 years before Bishop Thomas O’Leary of Springfield
established Christ the King Parish. From the beginning our parish has
been marked by devotion and sacrifice and generosity. Perhaps, in part,
that energetic love came as a result of the connection between a new
feast and a new parish – in much the same way that there is new vitality
in Southbridge where -last July -4 parishes joined to become Blessed
John Paul II Parish. A name may surely be the catalyst for the spiritual
energy of a parish.
From the beginning this parish enjoyed the life of the Spirit. Others know
that better than I - but on a daily basis I see the devotion of our
parishioners today. You’ve seen it for decades!Our lay leaders today are
as committed as they were in 1936 and 1976 and 2006 and that gives us
bright hope for the future.
Congratulations, parishioners. Thanks for coming today and for
participating in the Jubilee this year. And special thanks to our
organizers, like so many of yesteryear, who spent countless hours on
nearly a dozen major events celebrated since last winter.
In these few minutes it’s not possible to describe, nor would you expect,
a comprehensive history of the parish. Suffice it to say a few things –
especially that these 75 years have seen exceptional priests, deacons,
vowed religious and lay faithful – all committed to bringing people close
to Christ the King and His mission of peace.
Over these seven-and-a-half decades waves of new families came. The
parish was a leader in developing lay ministries, in ecumenical outreach,
and in its commitment to the poor, both nearby and in mission lands.
Parishioners built a historic CYC and benchmark religious education
programs. There were clubs, societies and hundreds of social
gatherings. A rich sacramental life nurtured all this parish activity.
In our first 75 years we were at our best when we identified with the very
person of Jesus found in those who suffer. In the future we will be at our
best when we discover Jesus - powerfully and personally -in the hungry,
the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned – who
come center stage in today’s Gospel.
The next 75 years will be different. The challenges have already begun.
No longer are people drawn to the Church in lock step.
What has been has been marvelous.
What will be can be better still - if we make it so.
In the future, every one of us will have to be ambassadors for Christ.
God bless those great priests and sisters and lay leaders who served us
in the past. See them in your mind’s eye and hold them close to your
But the future beckons to every one of us. The new evangelization,
which John Paul II and Benedict XVI have articulated so boldly, will have
to be at the center of parish life. Ministry simply cannot be left to a few.
Jesus must be the very heart of everything we do. The new
evangelization centers on knowing the person of Christ.
We will all need to be his heart and his arms and his hands reaching out
to the poor and the sick. And we must bring the vitality of the missionary
to those who live in Tatnuck, the City and beyond.
To prosper in the next 75 years, our community must redouble its
commitment to uphold the dignity of every human person, born and
unborn. We must never abandon that mission.
We’ll need to shine a spotlight on the importance of marriage and family
life, and our families will have to draw strength from one another in new
We’ll have to work with other communities of faith, even non-Christian
communities, to defend our right to live by conscience and religious
faith. Already, forces are at work that would deny us these God-given
We will only be credible, and only be attractive,as we recognize the very
person of Christ in every other person – for what is really at the heart of
Catholicism is an intimate bond between the materially or spiritually poor
- and Christ himself. “When you did this for the least of my brothers and
sisters, you did it for me.”
“You did it for me.”
Wonderful things will happen as we love the people the King loves: the
child of the mother’s womb, the conflicted teenager, the struggling single
parent, the imprisoned drug addict, the elderly person seeking freedom
from pain and loneliness.
Our young people must be schooled in prayer, taught that the
Sacraments are essential, and guided by the authentic moral teachings
of the Church.
Our children, adolescents and rising young adults must be coached to
live lives of service - and the deep spiritual questions of ‘20 and 30Some-
We must pray together - in large groups and small- and most importantly
in the Church’s most ancient prayer - the Mass.
If we read and love the scriptures, celebrate Eucharist faithfully and
share our faith with others,using all the skills of communication at our
disposal, we’ll become the parish family the Church has always called us
to be and the parish family that the Church vitally needs in the years
This is a mighty task, but a blessed one. Let us pray the strength of
Christ the King, in whom we find our peace, and who is with us
throughout the ages.