Reverencing the history, people and cultures of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Catholics from across its 15 counties gathered at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Harrisburg for the Solemn Mass opening the Sesquicentennial Year on March 3 – exactly 150 years to the day that diocese was established by Pope Pius IX.
I grew up in a somewhat rural part of New Jersey. In my yard, we had several old trees that had gnarly branches and roots that came to the surface. Under our Japanese Cherry Tree, I found a spot between the exposed roots that fit the contours of my body perfectly.
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and images of the Passion were brought to life in a tableau-style presentation that combined prayer, poignant hymns, powerful voiceovers and rich symbolism as the Diocese of Harrisburg ushered in the opening weekend for its 150th anniversary.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Conewago, established in 1730, is the oldest parish in the diocese. In 1787, its stone church was erected, and became the first church in the United Stated to be named for the Sacred Heart. It was named a National Historic Site in 1975.
The following homily was delivered by Bishop Ronald W. Gainer at Mass for the Solemn Opening of the Sesquicentennial Anniversary Year held at Holy Name of Jesus Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on March 3, 2018
“Father, you need us, as much as we need you” is the phrase that Clare McCarrick, one of my parishioners at Our Lady Lourdes Church in New Holland, tells me every time we gather to worship or to celebrate other church activities.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a Mass for which Bishop Gainer was the main celebrant. The liturgy marked the end of the retreat for the candidates in the diocese’s permanent diaconate program as they prepared for being called to lector.
On March 3, 1868, Blessed Pius IX, accepting the recommendation of the Second Plenary Council of the bishops of the United States of America, issued a decree establishing the Diocese of Harrisburg. The decree, translated from the Latin, reads:
The Diocese’s sesquicentennial year opens this weekend, and the yearlong celebration that will feature a number of diocesan-wide activities and historical reflections for parishioners’ inspiration.