Many years ago, when I was a novice, I was given an assignment to interview one of our Jubilarians. Sister Leonard was celebrating her 60th anniversary and she was in her late 90s. She truly left me inspired to follow a gracious God. I will never forget some of the words that she shared with me as she prepared to celebrate her jubilee. During the interview, she mentioned, “Jubilees are all about remembering what was, and what is, as one looks to the future and to praise the good God through it all!”
In the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick in Harrisburg, as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we pray the diocesan jubilee prayer. For those of you who haven’t come across it, here it is:
through the work of providence
You established the Diocese of Harrisburg ‘for a lasting remembrance’
of the Church of Christ in south central Pennsylvania.
We thank You for the generations of faithful Catholics
whose lives have witnessed to the Gospel
and have made Your Son present through divine worship,
by charitable works, teaching, and healing.
For those who have gone before us in faith,
grant an eternal place in Your heavenly kingdom.
For those who continue the ministry of the Church today,
bestow Your grace and strength to remain faithful and zealous.
And, for those who inherit the work of Your hands,
accomplished in and through us, pour out Your heavenly blessing,
so that what has been done with Your help in our Diocese
may come to full maturity in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Since our diocesan jubilee year began, my articles have focused on the servants of God, the venerables, the blesseds, and the saints who have traversed and lived within our beloved diocese, making it holy by their presence. By their lives, they pointed to a higher reality – God’s mercy and love. Their legacy can be seen in the faithful Catholics who worship week after week in our parish communities.
But the holiness within our diocese cannot only be seen within the lives of those individuals publically declared “holy.” There are countless individuals who live hidden sanctity, who sit next to you in the pew in your parish church.
Pope Francis explains it like this: “[T]he testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco there is a variety of colors and shades; yet they are all important, even those that do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, and friendships. There are the saints of every day, the ‘hidden’ saints, a sort of ‘middle class of holiness,’ as a French author said, that middle class of holiness to which we can all belong.”1
For the remainder of our Jubilee year, I now turn to the “hidden” saints among us. The individuals that I will highlight have been brought forth by the pastors of our diocese during the Year of Faith. Through the stories of their lives, God’s handiwork is truly manifested! I hope the stories of these amazing men and women leave you inspired to follow the Lord closer! God bless!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness