Wise Words from Helen Keller

08-23-2018Pastor's LetterRev. Jerome A. Johnson

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.

Helen Keller

I came upon those words of Helen Keller the other morning. As a priest, they profoundly moved me because I think about various people I know whose worlds have been shattered because of illness, setbacks, tragedies, and sorrow. I think of the worlds that have been shattered because of the fires in California, the ongoing challenge and divisions that exist in our world.

And I think of the Church and how again it is shattered, now by the allegations made regarding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the abuse of minors by clergy detailed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. It is particularly painful to hear this news, as Archbishop McCarrick was the founding bishop of our Diocese. I share your anger and hurt. It is personally disturbing to me since he ordained me a transitional deacon and a priest. But even more, it is disturbing and heartbreaking to think of the many whose worlds have been shattered from abuse by leaders in the Church, and how they have not always found support within the Church to be heard and believed. This moment is a reminder that the Church is still in need of reform. For many, the Church has lost its moral authority, and some believe it does not credibly live the message of Jesus. And this is painful because no program or policy can restore that overnight.

If you are one of those in darkness because of the Church, I am truly sorry. And I hope you will let us accompany you on the journey. In the coming months, there are many opportunities to join us socially, spiritually, prayerfully and in service. For me, even in this dark moment, these opportunities excite, give me hope and help me to experience Church as it is meant to be.

In the midst of these shattered moments and shattered lives, we turn to the Lord for grace. We ask for a faith that shines light in the darkest moments. The credible message of the Church may be obscured by the failure of its leaders. But it is clearly seen in the lives of ordinary people, with their strengths and their sins, who live as the Church in their daily lives giving of themselves in service of God and their brothers and sisters.

May we continue to stand with and listen to those who have been hurt by the Church. May we pray for those who have betrayed them. And may we believe the light of faith will emerge in the lives we lead each day. As Bishop Checchio said in his letter last weekend: “May the Faith be alive in each of us as we continually look to Jesus to guide us, protect us, purify and renew us.”

May our Lord bless you, always,

Fr. Jay