Dear friends in the Lord,
This past week I was meeting with a group of bishop friends who meet once a month via skype as a support group, who are known as the “Friends of Focolare.” Focolare (the word means “fireside” or “hearth” in Italian, and refers to an ecclesial movement that was founded by Chiara Lubich (from Trent, in Italy) right after the Second World War to witness to peace, unity and reconciliation. It is primarily a lay-led movement and the current president is Maria Voce, who recently let Pope Francis know she was praying for him. The charisms of Focolare are unity and reconciliation. This past week, as we were praying and reflecting together on a Focolare publication titled the “Word of Life” for this month of September, I found these reflections:
“The Word of God has a creative power that produces fruits of goodness in both the individual and in the community. It builds relationships founded on love between each of us and God and among us all. James says this word has already been ‘planted in us’. In fact, the Word of God can transform our daily life into the story of our liberation from the darkness of personal and social evil. However, we need to accept the word personally and consciously, even if it is an ongoing process and we are imperfect and fragile. Our thoughts and feelings will become more like those of Jesus himself. Our faith and hope in God’s love will grow stronger, and we will notice other people’s needs and help them.”
In fact, it is the sentiments expressed above that originally led me to begin to write in Fort Worth my web log entitled “Shepherd of Fort Worth.” I am very grateful for the Communications Department of the Diocese and priests of the Diocese of Fort Worth who were a great help to me in this endeavor .
Eventually, after coming to Orange County, I also began to use “Twitter.” My Twitter following eventually grew to around 6000 followers. In this past year, I was reflecting on all of the demands that I try to meet with the major Diocesan responsibilities such as the completion of Christ Cathedral, the ongoing work of the Strategic Plan and other pastoral initiatives, not to mention the ongoing life, teaching, worship and governance of the local Church. The work on my web log, which I have enjoyed writing, was not able to be maintained. For all of the above reasons, I decided to take for a while a “Technology Vacation” from Twitter so I can continue the web log and recapture the intent with which I had begun it. I plan someday to return to Twitter.
With this introduction, I will now try to catch up with some of the places and celebrations that I have been involved with in the past weeks!
+Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange
September 8 is the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Traditionally this was also the “entrance day” for many communities of Consecrated Life. This day commemorates the dedication of the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem .
This is the feast day of the Disciples of Mary, a religious institute who have ministered here in our Diocese since 2012. Their ministry, presence and youth ministry and evangelical outreach can be found in parishes, Campus Ministry and high schools here in our Diocese. For several years now I have been blessed to celebrate their diaconate and priesthood ordinations in Antipolo City in the Phillipines.
This year on September 8, at their community house in Anaheim , I celebrated Mass with their priests and a large group of their friends and benefactors. In addition to their community feast day, it was the 28th anniversary of their foundation! This is a day to thank the Lord for their presence and to listen to the Word of God for this day urging us not to be afraid and to be open to the Will of God in all moments.
St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, Illinois
Last week I was invited to return to Springfield, Illinois to be present at a Fall Luncheon at Saint John’s Hospital, sponsored by the College of Nursing. Saint John’s Hospital belongs to the Hospital Sisters Health System. My mother was a maternity nurse and instructor there for over 40 years . When she passed away we established a scholarship in her memory to enable student nurses to complete their nursing education. My mother was always very attentive to the nursing students who wished to obtain their degrees. The illustrations show the history of the Hospital Sisters of Saint Francis and the program for the luncheon. As one of the “Vanns” I was honored to be present at the luncheon to represent my family. My mother would have been very pleased with the honoree. I stayed at what is known as the”Chiara Center” ( St. Clare ) Center . I also was able to visit Calvary Cemetery to visit the family graves. Pictured here are the graves of my great-great grandparents ( from Ireland) and my great grandparents.
My grandparents- Les and Mary Jones – on their wedding day in 1915. These are my mother’s parents.
Our Lady of Fatima by night near the Chiara Center of the Hospital Sisters Motherhouse .
Inscription commemorating the departure of Fr. Junipero Serra from Mallorca ( never to return ) for the New World.
The cloister in St. Francis Church in Mallorca
Fr. Serra outside of St. Francis Church