By Bishop Robert J. Cunningham

As much as I enjoy writing my weekly column for the Catholic Sun there are times when it is difficult to get started. This is one of those times. When I think of celebrations and festivals, the theme for this week’s edition, the first thoughts that come to mind are the fall festivals that will be held throughout our diocese. As we transition from summer to fall, these annual gatherings are often an occasion to celebrate the fall season with its brilliant colors and sunny, brisk days.

Then my mind went back to Friday, September 8, and the rededication of our beautiful Mother Church. Every day when I walk to and from my office, my eyes naturally turn toward our Cathedral. Much has been written about the restoration and the rededication so there is no need to repeat it in this week’s column. However, I invite you to make a visit to the Cathedral and see for yourself the fruit of our generosity and sacrifice. It is your Mother Church and you helped to make the restoration a reality.

Last Sunday, I celebrated the 100th Anniversary of St. Helena’s Church in Sherrill. It is always a pleasure and a joy for me to participate in anniversary celebrations in our parishes. A centennial celebration of a parish is a moment of grace during which we gratefully remember the past, celebrate the present and, with renewed faith and love, look forward to the future with hope.

Later this fall, I will join the parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua in Endicott for their 100th Anniversary and St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners in Binghamton for their 90th Anniversary. This week I will join the parishioners of St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse for the 100th Anniversary of their rebuilt church and travel to Rochester for the 150th Anniversary celebration Mass for the Diocese of Rochester. Wonderful celebrations yet to come! I look forward to each one.

Another fall gathering of a different nature will occur this week, the Clergy Convocation in Alexandria Bay. This annual assembly gives me and our priests and deacons the opportunity for ongoing formation, some recreation and sharing on the challenges and joys of ministry, and the gift of fraternal support and camaraderie. The lovely St. Lawrence River (with a golf course not too far away for our golfers) is a lovely spot to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, the joy of friendship, the grace of our vocation, and our commitment to the Church and its mission.

As always, my fall calendar has a number of Confirmations. Each of them is a joyous occasion for me. The conferral of a sacrament should always be cause for celebration. Christ comes to meet us where we are and gives us the grace we need for the journey of life and faith. Specifically, the grace of Confirmation for our young people gives them the strength they need to live their faith. The gifts bestowed on them will, if they choose, be operative throughout their lives.

The Confirmation schedule brings me to many parishes and provides an encounter not only with the young people but also their families. How important these families are in the passing on of our faith to their children! It is a joy to meet them and assure them of my gratitude and ongoing support.

In closing, let’s not forget the celebration to which we are called weekly and even daily if we so choose. The regular participation in Sunday Mass is the celebration above all others. At the Eucharist we are nourished by God’s word and sacrament. I encourage you to take the obligation of Sunday Mass seriously. It is a celebration like no other and we need the grace flowing from it in order to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.

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