My dear people of St. Mary’s,
We have now had the installation of our new diocesan ordinary, Bishop John Barres. I hope many of you were able to follow the Vespers Prayer Service and the Mass of Installation on television. It was very moving to be at these events. I was the last priest ever ordained by Bishop John R. McGann. I served as a transitional deacon at the Mass of Welcome of Bishop James McHugh into the diocese. As a priest, I concelebrated the Installation Mass of Bishop William Murphy. On Tuesday, standing in the newly renovated Cathedral of St. Agnes, the same one in which I was ordained nearly eighteen years ago, it was a great joy to be able to concelebrate Mass for the first time with our new bishop. When a bishop, surrounded by all his priests, celebrates Mass in his diocesan cathedral, he is doing something that truly goes back to the earliest days of the Church.
At the evening vespers prayer service the night before his installation, Bishop Barres spoke especially to the young people of our diocese. He has a friendly manner and a rather gentle personality, and he laughed easily a number of times during his sermon. I think one of his greatest priorities for his tenure as our bishop will be reaching out to young people: to strengthen the faith of those who come to church, and to reach out to bring in those who don’t. Bishop Barres also is a great supporter of Catholic education. He will face challenges in that area since, here in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, many of our Catholic elementary schools are struggling, while our Catholic High Schools often have waiting lists for admission.
The following day, at his Mass of Installation, Bishop Barres, who has a degree in English Literature from Princeton, alluded to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, which is set on Long Island and in our area on the North Shore. A green light, shining at the end of a dock on Long Island Sound, is a significant symbol in the novel. It represents the narrator’s hopes and aspirations. Bishop Barres contrasted this with the red light, shining in our tabernacle lamps in every Catholic Church in the diocese, which is the answer to all the hopes and aspirations we could ever have. It is also the answer to all our questions and the solution to all our problems.
Bishop Barres also spoke encouraging words to his priests, deacons and religious, as his co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord. This upcoming week, all priests have been invited to join the bishop at a Eucharistic Holy Hour at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. This is one way for him to get to know his priests better, while in the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord, beneath that red light.
The bishop also wants to get to know his people as quickly as possible as well. So, there will be a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Barres on Wednesday, March 15, at 7:30 pm at the Church of St. Boniface the Martyr in Sea Cliff. All parishioners from St. Mary’s and the surrounding parishes are invited to attend.
Let us continue to pray for our new bishop, as we begin this new chapter in the life of our diocese.