The opening Mass of the Archdiocesan Synod also served as a celebration of the church’s newest saints – St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, who were canonized April 27.
During his homily, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki told the more than 300 people present, including more than 40 priests, that both popes “were gifts of the Spirit.”
“The lesson they offer to us is that we ourselves have to open ourselves up to the Spirit that is among us,” the archbishop said.
He noted that John XXIII “did what he did with confidence,” calling, at age 77, for an ecumenical council, knowing that he probably would not see the end of it, let alone its implementation.
“What drove him is what drives us today – a confidence in the Spirit to do the work of the Spirit and to be open to the work of the Spirit,” Archbishop Listecki said.
He noted that John Paul II’s mantra – “Be not afraid” – must be embraced by all disciples who undertake “this daunting task to proclaim this Jesus … and to proclaim the power of Christ among us and boldly offer that this is the answer to today’s problems.”
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“Be not afraid. Strengthen yourself by that Spirit, that same Spirit which the rock is built upon, that same Spirit which Peter responded to immediately and moved him to say, ‘You are the Son of God, the Son of the living God, the Anointed, the Messiah, the one we’ve waited for,’” the archbishop said, referring to Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”
The archbishop noted that the answer to that question helped build the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and “it continues to reverberate in every spirit of every believer. “
“We have to call forth the power within us – the power we have to transform our churches, our communities, our own lives,” he said.
“It is the power of the Gospel, it is the power of Jesus himself, it is the power of the Spirit that’s invested in those he calls the church.”
WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
In introducing Bishop Donald J. Hying to the delegates at the Archdiocesan Synod Saturday morning, co-emcee Fr. John Burns referred to the auxiliary bishop as “Archbishop Hying,” which drew laughter from the crowd.
Archbishop Listecki noted that someone asked him, “Wasn’t one Pentecost enough? You have to have a new one?”
“That new one is a revitalization of the same Pentecost and the same Spirit that’s vitalized the church in every way, shape and form for centuries. We are the beneficiaries of that Spirit,” the archbishop said. “One thing that unites all of us tonight – and I can say this boldly – is that you love and believe in Jesus and his church. That’s our strength. That is our power.”
He said the synod begins with trust and confidence in the Lord.
“We begin our synod by not being afraid to challenge ourselves to live fully the faith and the power that has been given to us,” Archbishop Listecki said. “We begin our synod by calling down the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and fill us with his love.”