Whatever our ethnic background, mother tongue or country of origin, as members of the Body of Christ,
we all share in His Cross — and in the redemption purchased by His Blood.
That was the message offered by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki on Saturday, Sept. 14, as he celebrated Mass in the Mater Christi Chapel at the Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center, beginning a day of events to mark the unveiling of Phase II of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
The homily was delivered in English and translated simultaneously into Spanish by Fr. Javier Bustos, Vicar for Hispanic Ministry.
Archbishop Listecki opened his homily by asking the congregation: “What do we see when we look upon the cross?”
“Do we see a man who was good, helped people to live rightly, but was crucified?” he asked. “Do we see a prophet on that Cross?”
Christ is more than that, he said. “We as believers look upon that Cross and we see the Son of God. This is a God who knows no bounds, who empties himself totally and completely for us. This is a God who has become one with us, and offered his life in sacrifice for us. This is a God who transforms our lives and offers us life to come through his love.”
Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is proof of the unfathomable love God the Father holds for all of his children, wherever they are from. It is that love that binds us as one human family.
“Our brothers and sisters in the evangelical societies grab onto one statement that was proclaimed in today’s Gospel. As you travel to the south and southwest, you can see on billboards all over this country — John 3:16. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, not that the world would be condemned, but that the world would be saved through him,’” said Archbishop Listecki. “We are believers, and the Cross is the sign of our victory — a victory of His Son’s life over sin and death. As the family of the Church, we gather together to celebrate the Cross, because in the Cross is the statement of God’s unconditional love for us.”
He continued by saying that “from that Cross, the Church comes about.”
“It is so important that we mark today as a community gathered together to celebrate the movement of the Church among the Hispanic community of today,” he said, urging the faithful to “move forward as a Church, together, arm in arm, with all our brothers and sisters who are believers, knowing that the love of Christ can transform our world.”
Archbishop Listecki elaborated on his own relationship with the Hispanic community, which began in his childhood in Chicago. “It was Polish and Mexican, together,” he said of the area where he grew up. The two communities shared a common faith, a devotion to the Blessed Mother, and strong ties to the family unit. “Side by side, there would be the Black Madonna and Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he said.
When he attended the minor seminary, his best friend was named Jesus Manuel Sosa. “When I would get on the bus, Sosa would yell to the back of the bus: ‘Polaco bruto!’”
“There was no need for translation for that,” said Fr. Bustos as the congregation laughed.
The Mass was well-attended by young families, and priests and deacons who are actively engaged in Hispanic Ministry concelebrated. A large icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was placed at the foot of the sanctuary.
“We go forward in hope. We have the examples of those who have served the church so well in the communities that I have encountered,” said Archbishop Listecki. “We have the pastoral plan to help us, to guide us. And we have the Cross — which is the hope of God’s love and the continuation of our Church into the future.”
He implored the faithful to “remain strong in the faith, and love the Church and the Cross.”
Immediately prior to the homily, Fr. Bustos officially presented the Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry to Archbishop Listecki. The plan, said Fr. Bustos, “promotes collaboration among institutions, parishes, Catholic schools and other organizations” and is “a great instrument for evangelization.” Archbishop Listecki acknowledged the efforts of the Archdiocesan Advisory Board for Hispanic Ministry, who produced the plan.
“The fruit of this will be seen in this archdiocese,” he said.
The day’s theme was “We Are a Pilgrim Church,” and accordingly, much attention was given to the issue of immigration. The keynote presentation was given by Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. A Marian prayer with Bishop James T. Schuermann concluded the day.