Bishop Gainer Releases Statement on Appointment of Archbishop-designate Nelson J. Pérez
In September, the Religious Sisters of Mercy marked their 150th year in the Diocese of Harrisburg. With just six community members currently serving within the Diocese, one might say, “No need for fanfare.” Yet, in response to their fourth vow of service to those who are poor, sick, and in need of education, for 150 years the Sisters of Mercy have touched the lives of students, families, orphans, immigrants, refugees – generations of people within the Diocese. There is a story to be told.
Faith, fellowship and two-by-fours are all combining in York to provide new, affordable housing for 14 families, while building community and residents and different faiths. A joint project between Habitat for Humanity and several area churches, including St. Joseph Parish, the Faith Build is bringing together congregations in order to work on Habitat projects. The 2019 build will not only provide housing for families in need, but it will also be one step in revitalizing the local community and building community between residents, Habitat and the various faith communities.
“Habitat believes that there are many partners, mostly the neighbors, that are required in order to have true community transformation. We’re not here just to make things look better or operate better; we’re here to create a sense of community between businesses, the individuals in this neighborhood and Habitat,” said Tammie Morris, executive director with York Habitat for Humanity. A Christian organization, Habitat is building more than homes through this project, Morris explained.
Good food, music, prayers and a focus on the Christmas story were all experienced in the days leading up to Christmas through Las Posadas. A tradition in Mexico and several other central and south American countries, this event commemorates the journey of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph in searching for a place to stay in Bethlehem.
“It is a tradition that comes from Mexico and starts on the 16th of December. There are nine Posadas that end on the night before the baby Jesus was born (Christmas Eve). Every one represents the nine months that Mary was pregnant,” said Angie Casanova, one of the Posada travelers who participated in the tradition in Harrisburg.
A student service project that began in the fall at Good Shepherd School in Camp Hill culminated in boxes of personal care items and snacks for military personnel in time for Christmas.
In September, sixth-graders decided on the project of sending care packages to members of Good Shepherd families who are deployed. The school distributed flyers to ask for donations, and each grade was encouraged to collect specific items for the packages.
In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, Catholic schools throughout the Diocese are hosting Open Houses to showcase what they can offer current and prospective students. The following Open Houses were submitted from the schools; visit www.GoCatholicSchools.org for more information.
Seven days before Christmas, the Trinity High School Choir, under the direction of Caroline Jarrett, performed several powerfully poignant Christmas melodies for inmates at the Cumberland County Prison. This year marked the third year that the choir performed its program, “The Choral Works of Mercy” – an idea Jarrett envisioned after being inspired by the mercy teachings of Pope Francis.
“It is the most wonderful concert of the year for us,” Jarrett said. “It matters so much to us because we are doing the Lord’s work and sharing our music for the right reasons.”
Christmas 2019 has become a memory. The beautifully wrapped presents have all been opened. Bows and wrappings have been torn and thrown out, or collected to be used again next year. The Christmas ham and turkey, along with the cookies, have been consumed. School has begun and it’s back to work for the rest of us. The glow of the Christmas tree, though still beautiful, has become a bit common place. The merchandise in the stores is now geared for Valentine’s Day. The extraordinary Christmas season has now turned to something ordinary. Even liturgically, the priest now wears green and we find ourselves in “ordinary time.”
But is God’s grace ever ordinary? As I reflected on this Christmas season, I came across a prayer that Caryll Houselander wrote. She was born in 1901 and was a poet, writer and mystic. Her prayer begins, “Be born in us Incarnate love!” I could not help thinking that if we truly gave our hearts to Christ as a Christmas present, he would bestow upon us His grace upon grace. Grace to hear His whispers in the ordinary-ness of our lives. Grace to see his fingerprints in the hum-drum of work or school. Grace to experience the glory of God every day – not just on December 25!
“As the recipient of your generosity, the Diocese takes the responsibility of carefully managing your gifts very seriously. We are committed to the highest standards of good stewardship, accountability and transparency.”
These words from Bishop Ronald Gainer were reaffirmed at the end of 2019 when the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) Annual Diocesan Online Financial Transparency Study was released. This study, annually conducted by the independent VOTF organization, reports on the financial transparency of dioceses and archdioceses throughout the United States. In 2019, the Diocese of Harrisburg received a total score of 86% out of 100%, which is a 54% increase over the Diocese’s score in 2018. The report analyzed the 2018 financial report posted to the Diocesan website.
Surrounded by the radiance of Nativity scenes, strings of lights and vibrant poinsettias, Catholics gathered at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Lewisburg and St. George Church in Mifflinburg to celebrate the Epiphany with Bishop Ronald Gainer.
The feast celebrates the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, as the Magi arrive from the east to adore the Christ child.