As you scan the pages of this year's Jubiliarian section (special report begins on page 11), you may see many well-known and well-loved men and women who have been integral to your own journey of faith as a Catholic in the Archdiocese of Newark and, like me, it is easy to acknowledge that we have been truly blessed by their presence among us all of these years.
In particular, I wish to acknowledge in a very special way the jubilees of Archbishop Emeritus Peter L. Gerety, who is ordained 70 years this year, and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Charles J. McDonnell, who celebrates 55 years of priestly ordination.
To the priests of this archdiocese who are celebrating jubilees, I offer congratulations on this significant milestone on your journey with the Lord as His priests. I thank the Lord for the honor of your pastoring His people and the grace of your preaching and teaching His Gospel. I give thanks for the many thousands you have baptized; for the marriages you have witnessed; for the healing and consolation you have given to the sick and dying; for the eucharistic miracle you pronounce: "This is my Body." I give thanks for the wonder of the words you have uttered: "I absolve you from your sins."
To the men and women who left secular life for the life of a Religious, who taught us in our schools, ministered to us in parishes, shelters, hospitals, social service agencies, I offer our sincerest thanks and our love. All too often, you have been the face of Jesus to the unfortunate, the hurting, the least of our brothers. You have represented us, the people this local Church of Newark, when we could not be there ourselves. The fullness of our gratitude for such unselfish and Christ-centered actions can never be expressed.
In our society, we make a very big fuss over numbers. Media talk daily about polls, dollar amounts, odds of success and thousands of other comparisons. While they sometimes can be overused or manipulated to unsavory ends, comparisons are valid teaching tools because they show in a very concrete way the impact of an event, person or situation on us and our world.
Right now, I would like to provide a comparison about our jubilarians that is as old and as solid as the comparison of the importance of our Catholic faith itself. Add together the anniversary of every jubiliarian featured in this issue, and you will find that the depth of their combined faith and service stretches back more than 2,000 years. The Catholic Church itself is two millennia young and just as strong as it was when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and taught the Truth to the earliest followers of the Faith.
There is very little, my brother priests and dear Religious Sisters and Brothers, that we can do to demonstrate the love and respect that you deserve as we commemorate the day each of you said "Yes" to the call to serve Jesus Christ, His Church and her people, except to ask Our Lord to continue to bless you, as He has blessed us with your presence among us.
(Editor's note: If you wish to write to any jubilarian to express thanks for the way he or she has influenced your life and faith, please call The Catholic Advocate at 973-497-4200, or e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will provide you with an address).