Celebrating the Parish Bicentennial!

Parish logo for 200 years Celebrating 200 Years of Faith and Freedom!

Sunday, June 21, 2015 ~ The closing Mass for our bicentennial celebration!

Monsignor James Hannon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore was the presider for our 10:30 am Mass. We are grateful to him for his time with us! The text of his homily is below if you would like to enjoy it again, or click here: Msgr-Hannon-homily-at-Mass-celebrating-parish-200th

Also, being Father’s Day, Father Frazier said a blessing for all fathers at the Mass.

Homily of Msgr Jim Hannon on the occasion of the ending of the 200th Anniversary Year at Saint Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor, on Sunday, June 21, 2015

I’d begin my homily by wishing all fathers present a Happy Father’s Day! May all of you dads enjoy the love of family and friends this day!

Number Game ~ Choose a number between 2 and 9. Multiply that number by 9. You now have a 2 digit number. Take those two digits separately and add them together. You now have a one-digit number. Subtract 5 from that one-digit number. That number corresponds to a letter: 1 = A, 2 = B and so on. Think of the name of a country that begins with the letter that corresponds to your number. Now take the last letter in the name of that country and think of the name of an animal…But remember – there are no kangaroos in Denmark.

Numbers are important. For you, as a parish community, the number is, of course – 200. You are nearing the end of your 200th anniversary year. You have had the opportunity to reflect on your past, your heritage, your history, and who you are as a parish in light of these things.

You know your heritage – the land of this parish was a gift of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. He deeded the land so that a Roman Catholic Church could be built here. That gift was given in September of 1814 – the same year our National Anthem was composed.

Your parish has had a rich history here in Frederick County – sharing Jesuit roots with other communities. But now here we are today, with our gaze set not behind us – but before us.

The question that is so important for you as a parish community – where do you go from here? What lay ahead? What is it that God wishes of St. Joseph Parish in this time, this place?

Well – surely there have been calm waters and rough seas in the course of 200 years – so let’s look to the scriptures for guidance. The gospel today is that familiar story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat during a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The difference in attitude between Jesus and his disciples makes for an interesting comparison. The disciples are filled with fear as the storm threatens them. They are paralyzed by their fear.

Jesus, on the other hand, rests within the storm – trusting that God will take care to keep the storm within its limits – as God keeps the ocean within its limits in that first reading from Job. Jesus has that innate trust that the divine presence rules the world and puts all things in their place.

When, in their fear, the disciples reach out to Jesus – when they wake him up they are amazed at his actions – for he calms the raging waters, he quiets the storm – leaving them awestruck. To do such a thing is to do the work of the divine!

It is clear that this experience deepens the insight of the disciples about who Jesus is. The actions and attitude of Jesus in this story point to something larger than what is happening on the surface here. That something larger is about the pattern of how Jesus approaches all things. He had a deep and abiding trust in the presence and the power of the Divine One.

Even when he encountered the raging storms of cruelty, injustice, and oppression – whether in his own life or in the lives of others, he calmed the storm and called people to a new vision of how history was to happen in the unfolding Kingdom of God. Even during the storm of the cruelty and injustice surrounding his own passion and death – he awoke from the sleep of death to calm the storms that had seemingly overcome his life.

I think it is fair to say that the experience of the disciples reflects our own experience in life. Look at the state of our world. The destruction wrought by ISIS – religious zealotry gone terribly awry! The ongoing tensions in the Middle-East, and between Russia and Ukraine. And – of course, our own nation is not exempt from destructive forces. The chaos unleashed in Baltimore in late April points to a deep disruption in relationships that are vital to order and safety for citizens. And of course, this very week, we mourn that racism has once again reared its ugly head in the form of the shooting and killing of nine people gathered for prayer at a Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

We are threatened from every side, we could find ourselves disheartened and living in a state of fear. We are, in short – in the midst of a storm, a tempest is raging around us. We might be led to ask – has God abandoned us?

And of course – the message of the scriptures is clear – NO God has not abandoned us.

Rather – God is with us, in the midst of the storms of life. God calls us to trust that all will be well if we but trust in his abiding presence, in his power over all things and all situations. Yes – it might well be a mystery to us how God is present, how God is active in our world at times – but we are to trust.

And the substance of that trust is what Paul addresses in the passage from Second Corinthians. For Paul – Christ’s crucifixion is the pivotal moment in history when the whole meaning and direction of human history is re-made, re-focused, and re-ordered.

Paul asks us to see that the death of Christ and our own incorporation into that death is the moment out of which a new creation has already begun. And what is the message of that new creation?

Nothing short of this – that Jesus has risen from the sleep of death to conquer and calm the chaos and the storms that threaten our lives, and to reveal a new creation. We are called to rest secure in this truth – and, in the end, to realize that we have no need to fear the inevitable tumult that happens around us, for a new order has already begun and the Kingdom of God is at hand.

And so it is for you who are the parish, the community of Saint Joseph’s – by trusting that God is here in our midst, you are made into a new creation, again and again – emerging from your rich history, to be the community you are today.

You are made into a new creation, again and again, as you gather to be nourished for the work that is ahead of you. You have defined that work yourselves – it is reflected in your beautiful Vision Statement – you form a community of relationships for shared prayer, faith formation, and service – through Word, Worship, and Works that are the heart of being an Evangelizing community of faith.

Again – those beautiful words of Paul . . . So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Paul’s invitation to behold the new things – and the gospel story of the storm bring to mind the refrain of The Quaker HymnNo storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging, since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

And so – we let our hearts sing! Because LOVE – the Lord of heaven and earth will heal all divisions, Love will set all things aright, Love will calm all stormy seas, Love invites us to cross to the other side – where we will behold the new things that have come! (end)

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