One of the many joys I have in working at the Diocesan Center is the wonderful privilege of not only serving at Mass but also being an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. It is always a grace for me to prepare the altar, Lectionary and linens, as well as the vessels used at Mass.
One day, as I was “cleaning up” after Mass, a Sister of St. Joseph approached the celebrant and invited him to her jubilee liturgy. A jubilee celebration, for a religious, is a moment in time in which all within the community gather and celebrate not only the fidelity of the specific individual celebrating, but most importantly, the awesomeness and the fidelity of a God who calls us His Beloved!
As I walked upon the scene and heard the invitation, I immediately jumped for joy! Sister turned to me and announced, “It will be a glorious day!” I declared, “Congratulations! How many years?” Sister approached me and said, “Seventy!” As she bathed me with her joyful glance, I felt as if I was reliving the Visitation; the moment that Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice and John the Baptist jumped for joy at the presence of Christ! Sister radiated an enthusiasm that was infectious. She hugged me and whispered, “You understand!” I answered, “I do, indeed! God is absolutely amazing! Jubilees are always a time in which heaven and earth unite!”
I could not help thinking of this story as I began to reflect on the awesome grace of living within a diocese while celebrating a 150th jubilee – a Sesquicentennial jubilee. What an amazing birthday that is! It truly makes me want to dance for joy or sing Psalm 150, which is a song praising God’s surpassing greatness: “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”1
So many lay faithful, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and consecrated serving God and His Church have pointed the way through their loving service! Their acts of charity to their fellow human beings as well as their love for one another has made the 15 counties of the Harrisburg Diocese truly holy ground. It is a holy ground that has, through the grace of God, birthed men and women who are not only canonized saints, blesseds as well as servants of God, but also holy men and women who serve God with their entire being shoulder to shoulder with us.
As the Diocese of Harrisburg celebrates its Sesquicentennial this year, I thought I would share with you a little about those individuals, both the “renowned” and the “easily overlooked” and their stories of faith so that you, with me, can declare, “GOD IS ABSOUTELY, ABSOUTELY AMAZING!!!!
1 New Revised Standard Catholic Edition. https://www.biblegateway.com
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness