Reflections from the St. Pius X ceremony

Back on May 5 (“Cinco de Mayo”) hundreds of people gathered at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River, not to break a piñata and see what sweets fell out, but to celebrate how God has been pouring out blessings in the lives of many young people from across our diocese.

On page 10 of this edition of The Anchor you can see photos and read the list of recipients of the Pope St. Pius X Medal, which is bestowed by the bishop upon teen-agers nominated by their pastors for putting their faith into action. 

Bishop Edgar da Cunha, S.D.V., began his homily by quoting the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” In it, the narrator is setting the scene for the story of the Old Testament patriarch, Joseph, who was rejected by his brothers, in part because of his dreams. The narrator says, “Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do, before their time on this planet is through. But all that I say can be told another way, in the story of a boy [Joseph] whose dream came true, and it could be you.”

The bishop then asked the recipients to think about what “dreams and hopes you have for yourself? For the Church? For the world?” He then reminded them, “You are here not because you are very smart and have good grades, but because you have put into practice the gifts you received. When you were born, God gave you many natural gifts. When you were baptized, He gave you the gifts of faith.”

Bishop da Cunha referred to a study which found that the Amish (the “Pennsylvania Dutch”) are the happiest people in the country and he noted that they are known for three things: “cooperation,” “sacrifice,” and “self-denial.” The bishop asked everyone to remember that recipe, as well as “five simple rules for happiness,” which come from an unknown author. They are: 

“1. Free your heart from hatred;
2. Free your mind from worries;
3. Live simply;
4. Give more;
5. Expect less.” 

The bishop connected these to St. Paul’s admonition that we run the race of life “so as to win” (1 Cor 9) and Jesus’ invitation that we “remain in [His] love” (Jn 15:9).

Sydney Morin, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Bedford, said, “It is hard in this day and age to be a leader in the Catholic faith. Many people in the secular world do not want us to talk about what we believe in and will not listen. As teen-agers we have to make time for Christ and not let others pull us away from serving Him.”

Martin spoke highly of various prayer experiences and said that “as a result of the retreats I attended, I got more involved in it and I also went on the Pro-Life March in Washington D.C. I was amazed at the large number of people who attended the march. If more people stand up for what we believe in we could make a huge difference in this world. That’s why I do what I do. When I believe strongly in something I stand up for it and I believe strongly in my faith. I know that I’m not going to be making a difference if I never attend Mass, volunteer to be on team for retreats, or help those second-graders [that she teaches in the Faith Formation program]. If people see me treating others with kindness and helping others in Jesus’ name then they might want to do the same. If I do the opposite though, I’m not going to be making a difference or bringing people to God.”

Martin spoke out for being a cheerful volunteer: “If we look like we do not want to be somewhere, people will notice. But if we have passion for what we do, people will also notice that. Our love for Christ will show in what we do and say.”

The other youth speaker, Nolan Kearney from St. Bernadette’s Parish in Fall River, admitted that he had not always been a willing helper: “Like Simon of Cyrene, I was often pressed into service whether I liked it or not (when your mom works in Religious Ed, there is no escape). It was a given that Mass trumped all activities and any time an extra hand was needed, mine was quickly offered, sometimes before I even knew about it.”

Like Martin, Kearney also spoke about how growing in prayer helped change him inside and out. “I realized it was now up to me to own my faith and get to work on becoming the saint we are all called to be. Last summer, I spent a week at the Quo Vadis camp [the program for teens considering a priestly vocation] and came home with a clearer vision of God’s plan for me and, more importantly, the will to carry it out. These combined experiences have brought me closer to Jesus and set me solidly on the right path. I went from being a do-er, volunteering for numerous activities and putting in my community service hours at school, to being someone who works to live my Catholic faith daily even when it is difficult and means sacrifice.”

Martin urged her fellow honorees, “Every single one of you receiving this award has shown Christ’s love to others with passion. Never stop doing so. Continue to spread the Good News of Christ to everyone around you. We have to take this responsibility and show God’s love to others.”

Kearney quoted St. John Paul II, who said, “It is Jesus Who stirs in you. The refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

Echoing the bishop and Martin (although they prepared their talks separately), Kearney said that the honorees had “opened ourselves to the call of Jesus and are making the Fall River Diocese a more human and more fraternal place.” 

Kearney called on his fellow “Catholic role models” to “transform the world,  refus[ing] to allow ourselves to be ground down by secular mediocrity, and stand firm with the Church on our Catholic ideals and teachings, even though modern society attempts to undermine and usurp its deep truth.”

Kearney made reference to St. Pius X, in whose name the teens were being honored, and mentioned the modernist movement that pope fought: “Our generation faces the very same problems of a culture that continues to try to make us waver in our beliefs. Current issues of our times: abortion, gay marriage, consumerism, and ongoing efforts to secularize our government and society, force us to stand more firmly on our beliefs, instead of tolerating and appeasing, as popular culture hopes we will.”

The young people have offered us a challenge, together with Bishop da Cunha’s advice. Like them, let us take this all to prayer and then do God’s Will.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts