Hamilton Pastoral Letter

14th June 2009
The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

As summer approaches, I want to share a few thoughts with you on two important topics in the pastoral life in our Diocese: The conclusion of the Year of St. Paul and the Inauguration of the Year of Priest.

Before I begin, I want to extend congratulations to all the children who have made their First Communion this year; the young people who were recently confirmed; and our young adult graduates of Mt. St. Agnes Academy and the other high schools on the Island. Special
congratulations to our college graduates. Best wishes and prayers for God’s continued blessings for you, your parents, family and friends.

1.     Year of St. Paul the Apostle. We will solemnly close the Year of St. Paul with a concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Theresa’s Cathedral on Sunday, 28th June, at 3:00pm with the participation of the Diocesan Choir. All of the parishes will be featured in the Liturgy and in the short celebration that will follow the Mass at the MSA field. Come and celebrate the life and work of St. Paul the Apostle as well as the 400th Anniversary of Bermuda and its people. I believe our local Church has been blessed in many ways during
this Year of St. Paul:

          Renewed love and appreciation for the Apostle, Paul, as a preacher of God’s word and a self-sacrificing missionary.
          Renewed interest in Bible Study and the practice of prayerful reading of Holy Scripture (Lectio Divina).
          Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood from the families of our Diocese with the travelling Chalice of Pope Paul VI.
          A year of Pilgrimage to each of the Parishes of our Diocese. The short history of each Parish that was read during the Pilgrimage Prayer Service will soon be available in a small booklet edited by Sr. Judith Rollo.
     In the Year of St. Paul, the Diocesan Office for Youth Ministry was re-established with Brother Edward Benson, CR as the new Director. May the spirit of St. Paul animate and inspire the
Youth Ministry Coordinators who are now serving in each of our Parishes.

We have much to be thankful for and I invite you once again to express your gratitude to God by participating in the Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, 28th June.

2.     Year of the Priest. Even before we complete the Paschal Year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict has called upon the whole Church to celebrate the Year of the Priest beginning on 19th June, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast has been dedicated traditionally to a World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of
Priests. The year of 2009 was chosen to inaugurate the Year of the Priest because it marks the 150th Anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Parish Priest of Ars, France who is the Patron Saint of Priests and Pastors.

Our Diocese will inaugurate the Year of the Priest with a Concelebrated Mass with all the priests in Bermuda present at St. Theresa’s Cathedral on Friday, 19th June at 7:30pm. The Mass will be followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a half-hour of prayer and silent Adoration. The evening will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

As the Year of the Priest progresses there will be more information shared concerning the importance and need for this Year of the Priest. From my perspective I see two special blessings that can come to us
through this special year:

          Fervent prayer for vocations to the priesthood here in Bermuda and throughout the world in accord with the words of Jesus: “The harvest is abundant, but the labourers are few; so ask the Master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:38)

          Prayer and spiritual discernment of the Church in Bermuda regarding vocations to the Permanent Diaconate – the first level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In
September we will begin the formal process of instruction in all the Parishes of the Diocese regarding the Permanent Diaconate. The entire Church of Bermuda will be called upon to pray and to judge whether or not God is calling men, married or single, to serve the Catholic Church in Bermuda as Permanent Deacons. If suitable candidates arise, the formation programme will begin in January 2010.

Let me conclude with a few thoughts on the Year of the Priest with one paragraph from the letter of Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Vatican Office for Clergy, that was sent to all Priests:

It must be a year that is both positive and forward looking in which the Church says to her priests above all, but also to all
the Faithful and to the wider society by means of the mass media, that she is proud of her Priests, loves them, honours them, admires them and that she recognizes with gratitude their pastoral work and the witness of their life. Truthfully priests are important, not only for what they do, but also for who they are. Sadly, it is true that at the present time some priests have been shown to have been involved in gravely problematic and unfortunate situations. It is necessary to investigate these matters, pursue judicial processes and impose penalties accordingly. However, it is also important to keep in mind that these pertain to a very small portion of the clergy. The overwhelming majority of priests are people of great personal integrity, dedicated to the sacred ministry; men
of prayer and of pastoral charity who invest their entire existence in the fulfillment of their vocation and mission, often through great personal
sacrifice but always with an authentic love towards Jesus Christ, the Church and the People in solidarity with the poor and the suffering. It is for this reason that the Church is proud of her priests wherever they may be found.

May God bless, with great love, this spiritual effort on the part of the Church universal to promote the Year of the Priest. Again, I invite you to join me and all our Priests for the Concelebrated Mass of Inauguration on Friday, 19th June at 7:30pm at St. Theresa’s Cathedral.

Fraternally in Christ Risen,

Robert Joseph Kurtz, CR
Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton in
Bermuda