Gift of faith 'risks being extinguished'
By Teresita Barbou
Special to The B.C. Catholic
The Archdiocese of Vancouver presented stewardship awards after the Mass on the feast of its principal patron, Our Lady of the Rosary, Oct. 7 in Holy Rosary Cathedral.
"We are opening the Year of Faith in our local church," said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB. "Now for us is the favourable time to trust ourselves more completely to God, Who has loved us to the very end in Jesus Christ crucified."
During his homily the archbishop asked, "Why this Year of Faith?" He explained, "On one hand it commemorates the golden jubilee of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it is also the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church."
Pope Benedict XVI also had something else in mind, the archbishop explained. "As you know, in our families and in our communities the gift of faith given in baptism risks being extinguished."
"We are facing in our world and certainly in our country a crisis of faith. The loss of the religious sense constitutes for the Church the greatest challenge." He asked, "How do we propose to meet this challenge?"
Archbishop Miller quoted Pope Benedict about the purpose of the Year of Faith. "'I have decided to proclaim a Year of Faith. It will be a moment of grace and commitment for a conversion to God to strengthen our faith in Him,'" he said.
"This Year of Faith has given us in our archdiocese and the Church in the whole world an opportunity to reinforce and deepen our faith both personally and as a community."
Turning to the Gospel, Archbishop Miller asked why Mary is blessed. He explained she is blessed because she believed; she trusted because she accepted the Word of the Lord, and the Son of God was conceived in her.
"Mary is the believer; she believed, she trusted."
During this Year of Faith, therefore, we should take Mary as our teacher of faith.
Archbishop Miller talked about an assignment for everyone present. "This year we should open wide the door of faith to members of our families and our communities who have run away from the practice of the faith," he said. "By your kindly invitation you stand at that door of faith."
He asked everyone to stand by the door of faith to pray, and to remember Pope Benedict's words. "There is nothing more beautiful than to know God and to speak to others of our friendship," he said. "You are gatekeepers at the door inviting Catholics to come home."
At the end of Mass the presentation of stewardship awards acknowledged 27 men and women from parishes throughout the archdiocese. "These men and women deserve recognition," said Archbishop Miller.
"I know that they are not alone in deserving this honour. I hope they are proud to represent thousands of faithful stewards day in and day out, year after year giving of their time, talent, and treasure to our church."
Ann McCaffrey, of St. Joachim and Ann Parish in Aldergrove, was one of the recipients of the stewardship award. "It's a great honour and it's just overwhelming," she said.
She explained that it was something unexpected: "It's very difficult getting an award like that because it really should be the whole parish."
"For next year I will try to do the best I can" to invite people to the faith, said Lucilia Dionisio of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Vancouver, another recipient.
"This award was very special and it was a complete surprise. I just do what the Lord wants me to do," said award recipient Irene Sviatko of All Saints Parish in Coquitlam.
Towards the end of his homily Archbishop Miller said, "Our recipients of the stewardship award have given life to their faith by acts of love. Lives of stewardship are filled with gratitude in thanksgiving."