Text of Homily by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, In Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of His Consecration as a Bishop September 22, 2012 Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart Newark, New Jersey
Your Eminences, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Rigali, Cardinal McCarrick, Governor Christie, Bishops, Monsignor Doran, Diocesan Officials, Brother priests and seminarians, all in consecrated life, distinguished public officials, friends who are here and those unable to attend.
What a joy and honor it is personally to be with you and to celebrate this occasion. In my own mind it is more about you and your goodness and faithfulness than it is about me. My years of service here with you and among you have been very happy and very fulfilling. For you and for our years together which continue I offer thanks to our good God. With you, I commend to the Loving Lord, the priests, religious and laity who are now deceased.
Para todos mis amigos de habla hispana. Es para mí un gran honor y una gran alegría estar aquí junto a ustedes celebrando esta ocasión. En mi mente, esta celebración es más sobre su bondad y fidelidad que sobre mi persona. Mis años de servicio aquí entre ustedes han sido muy felices y profundamente satisfactorios. Doy sinceras gracias a nuestro buen Dios por ustedes y por todos estos años. Con ustedes, me encomiendo al mismo buen Dios como lo han hecho los sacerdotes difuntos, aquellos en la vida consagrada y los laicos que nos han honrado con su servicio y amistad durante estos años.
Isaiah prophetically proclaims that:
"the spirit of the Lord is upon him anointing him to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners, to comfort all who mourn and to announce a year of favor from the Lord."
This Word is addressed to our hearts. We are to accept and live these gifts from the Lord.
We share our culture as Blessed Pope John Paul II stated with those who would "suppress ultimate mystery and transcendent truth" and leave our lives impoverished and vulnerable to "reductionism and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society."
This can lead, as Pope Benedict XVI, in one of his ad limina addresses to the Bishops of the United States, pointed out to "quiet attrition of Church members." Only interior renewal - by the grace of God – can bring such renewal about. We must embrace the faith as Jesus and His Church offers it to us and live in God's world. Not simply our own. It is these gifts which the prophet Isaiah proclaims to us.
Here in the Archdiocese of Newark we have many reasons to be aware of both challenges and opportunities. We are happy to welcome our brothers and sisters from other countries and cultures. So many have suffered in so many ways. By our words and especially by our actions we need to help the word of our loving God touch and sustain them.
How proud and grateful I am for all of you as we face the challenges of our day. Many parishes and schools are stressed. Working together patiently – listening to one another and seeking wisdom – we are dealing with our many challenges. I will not enumerate them, but I want to mention one issue: the fundamental mistakes that have been made in catechesis which flow over into liturgical and pastoral aberrations. Some misunderstand the Second Vatican Council, which we happily support and embrace, to seek a Church which never was and never will be rather than joyfully to join the communion of the Church as it is. For almost two generations catechetics moved from presenting clearly the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been entrusted to and reflected on by the Church. The emphasis so often was on "feeling good." The parameters were set by the current understanding and feelings of the teachers and the students. They imposed these limits on the Gospel. Some have called it the "balloons and bubble-gum" period of catechetics. This is why the recent popes and the bishops are calling for a New Evangelization in order to call all of us to turn to Jesus, to His Gospel, and to the Church which is His Body. We may have lost or at least left at a distance two generations of Catholics. They do not know even where to begin in sharing the faith with their own children and with others.
My experience as I arrived in the Archdiocese almost eleven years ago impressed me with the lively faith, the generosity and the strength of the members of this great Archdiocese and of people of the Metropolitan area of which we are a part. Families cared for one another as did neighbors and parishes. People generously cared and shared. Having arrived on October 1, 2001, I traveled to "ground zero" with Bishop Bootkoski to visit the towers. Some smoke still rose from parts of the rubble. We were told that the temperature below ground was still over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To my surprise I saw an immediate link to the City of Peoria which I had just left for my new home. From the ground level to the highest piles of rubble was a line of Caterpillar Tractors, the higher picking up a load and passing it down to the next machine, and so on. You see, Peoria is the world headquarters of the Caterpillar Corporation. This burned into my awareness the unity of our country and the continuity of our life and institutions and I understood that even someone from Peoria could belong here and serve here.
After that we visited a building which temporarily housed some of the offices of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. As I visited with people there, a woman came up to me and said, "Archbishop, I can't pray I am so numb." I pointed out that such a trauma could cause that, but that even the desire to pray is a prayer. Then I took the Rosary from my pocket and put it in her hand saying "Try this simple prayer. It will help now and into the future." Subsequently, I received a note from her saying how much she appreciated our visit.
A couple of weeks later I received a surprise which I have told only a few people about. Some of the dioceses in the country, without any announced national collection, sent significant funds to augment those we had made available. This helped us to assist families of victims with house payments, insurance payments, tuition payments and other pressing needs. This also enabled me to set aside some funds to help with counseling when it was needed. I knew that such needs might be present for some years. And the funds did last for some years although they have now all been utilized. God is good. He leads us through dark valleys. Saint Paul reminds us that God said, "Let light shine out of darkness." We must bring to light the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ!
Saint Luke recounts the call of the first apostles as they were fishing on Lake Gennesaret. At Jesus' word they had a miraculous catch of fish, filling two boats. Peter is featured because of his humility and faith and, as we would discover, because of his future role in God's saving plan.
Jesus utters those words which He would often repeat and which Blessed Pope John Paul II echoed from the beginning of his teaching: "Be not afraid." Then Jesus added to Peter, "from now on you will be catching men."
These words are directed to our hearts, to our lives. We must not be controlled by fear, but rather trust in the Lord. We must set out into the deep, braving whatever obstacles and opportunities we encounter. Together we are to live and to proclaim the saving message; in season and out of season. The world is desperate for a new evangelization, a fresh and vibrant proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such is Jesus' call to the Church as it is renewed in the teaching of our great popes as with the Lord they urge us, "Be not afraid."
Our history continues to unfold. Together we are a part of that history. I offer you heartfelt thanks for welcoming me, for serving with me, for overlooking my faults and failures, and for facing past years and future years unafraid, for we follow the Crucified and Risen One.