By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Catholics in the Davenport Deanery gathered Sept. 22 to celebrate the Year of Faith with Bishop Martin Amos. Around 400 people attended the vespers celebration at Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was the fourth of six diocesan celebrations.
The service began with the gathering rite, followed by the hymn “We Walk by Faith.” The Davenport Deanery Choir led various psalms and songs. Joe Heinrichs read from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and Msgr. James Parizek, dean of the Davenport Deanery and pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, gave a homily reflecting on that Scripture.
He noted that the Year of Faith began Oct. 11, 2012, and was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI, who later retired and was succeeded by Pope Francis. “The Catholic Church has continued its pilgrimage since then and hopefully many of you have learned more about and have deepened your appreciation of the great gift of faith.”
Although the yearlong celebration is almost complete, “we are never through with our journey of faith until we reach the threshold of heaven.”
The journey of faith begins at baptism, during which the newly baptized receives a white garment. Msgr. Parizek held up a baptismal bib. “This is very small, but sometimes so is faith.”
Using the metaphor of being clothed in Christ, Msgr. Parizek noted that we should, in gratitude, be properly clothed: “Paul tells us, ‘Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’”
God has chosen his people to exist within the Christian community, the Church. “Occasionally one of the brothers or sisters might be more like a pebble in the shoe — causing irritation to another part of the Body of Christ.” But Paul urges us to “bear with one another and forgive one another.”
“Forgiveness comes easier from a heart of compassion and kindness. From one who is humble, gentle and patient,” Msgr. Parizek said.
“You love God because God first loved you.… The garment of love is never boring, never goes out of style and sometimes one size fits all, but the garment of love needs freshening up and cleaning to maintain its brilliance.
“The bond of perfection, which love is, creates a unity among us that gives glory to God. We are one body, one spirit. Although diverse in culture and language, we can all speak the language of love.”
After intercessions and prayer, Bishop Amos offered the concluding prayer and blessing.
As the bishop left the sanctuary, he told the crowd, “Don’t leave. I’m coming back.” The crowd laughed and sat down. The bishop returned to give a talk on the Year of Faith.
Bishop Amos said that during Masses celebrating the sacrament of confirmation this past year he has spoken about the door of faith, referring to the opening words of Pope Benedict’s letter announcing the Year of Faith.
Opening of the doors comes from Acts of the Apostles, when St. Paul was in Antioch and told the people the door of faith had been opened to them. “And since that time, each generation has opened the door of faith to the next generation. We are not born with the faith — it is handed on to us,” Bishop Amos said.
When he was a parish priest he was involved in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). “Early on we would ask what brought them to this point. Each person’s journey was very individual, but almost without exception it involved a family member, spouse, friend or neighbor opening the door to them.”
In a research study, adults were asked to define faith by choosing one of the following statements: 1) A set of beliefs, 2) Membership in a church, 3) Finding meaning in life or 4) A relationship with Christ.
Faith is probably more than any one element, the bishop said. But each of the four choices helps define faith.
The bishop identified two traditional terms to define faith in Latin: fides quae (that which is believed — what you believe) and fides qua (the ‘whom’ in which you believe).
Passing on the faith involves lifelong learning and building on a relationship with Christ.
“The Holy Father first wanted our generation to be re-inflamed, re-energized. The fact that you have come today speaks to the faith that is within you,” the bishop told the gathering.
He also addressed the “New Evangelization,” which has three aspects: a mission to those who do not know Jesus Christ, our own growth and continuing need to be evangelized, and outreach to those who have fallen away.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., listed some of the qualities of New Evangelizers: boldness, connectedness with the Church, joy and sharing of our faith.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Bishop Amos said. “I want to commend parents and grandparents for passing on the faith. I want to commend teachers in Catholic schools and the dedicated catechists in our parishes.
“It is our turn to share the gift of faith we have received.”
Following vespers, the Knights of Columbus hosted a cookout on the north lawn of the cathedral.
Janet Kane, a member of Sacred Heart Cathedral, said she attended the event because faith is most important. She thought the service was a wonderful opportunity to hear Bishop Amos speak on the Year of Faith and what the pope wanted people to hear about it.
Rosalie (Melroy) Waight of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf appreciated the service and said she was glad to hear the bishop speak at the end of it.
Julie Kilburg of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport said the service helped her to reconnect and remember the importance of the faith journey.