By LeAnn Lemberger
OTTUMWA — Representatives of the 12 parishes of the Ottumwa Deanery came together at St. Patrick’s Church on Saturday, Oct. 26, to celebrate a Mass for the New Evangelization, part of the ongoing Year of Faith.
Bishop Martin Amos celebrated the Mass, with Father Patrick Hilgendorf, Dean of the Ottumwa Deanery, and Father Bob Striegel, chaplain of the VA Hospital in Iowa City, concelebrating. Deacons Ed Kamerick of St. Patrick Parish, Melrose, and Jim Vonderhaar of St. Mary of the Visitation Parish, Ottumwa, assisted in the Mass.
The Ottumwa Deanery’s observation of the Year of Faith is the fifth to be held in the diocese. “I asked each deanery in the diocese to find some venue during this Year of Faith at which I might be present,” Bishop Amos told the crowd of about 175. Some of the deaneries held evening prayer services or hosted Bishop Amos for a talk, while others celebrated Mass.
“One generation has always opened the door of faith to the next generation,” Bishop Amos said. “We are not born with the faith; it is handed on to us.”
He commented that people participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) nearly always speak of another person who has inspired their choice to join the Church — a spouse, family member, neighbor, or co-worker who “opened the door for them and invited them in.”
As the world has been “tainted by a strong individualism, a strong secularism, a strong materialism,” the bishop went on, the need for a new evangelization — a new sharing of faith — has become increasingly important.
Pope John Paul II was the first to call for a new evangelization; Pope Benedict XVI declared the Year of Faith, and Pope Francis has added a call for simplicity, humility, welcoming and inviting.
The Year of Faith began Oct. 11, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the second Vatican Council (Vatican II) — and will conclude Nov. 24, the Feast of Christ the King. But the formal end of the Year of Faith should not mean the end of efforts to open the door of faith, Bishop Amos added.
Paul Riedel of Ottumwa, a member of St. Patrick’s for 81 years, said that the celebration of the Year of Faith has caused him to pay more attention to what’s going on around the world in the Church. “I’m more cognizant of the fact that you really have to work at it,” he said of his faith. “It’s not ‘I was baptized and it’s done – I can forget about it.’ The Year of Faith made a difference to me.”
“Every year is a year of faith,” said John Hennen of Ottumwa, a member of St. Mary of the Visitation since 1960. The Year of Faith celebration has made him “more aware that faith isn’t just a matter of believing in God, but of believing in the message. Believing requires that we take action.”
Hennen’s wife Jo’an added, “Faith is a continuing thing, not just static.” She sees the Year of Faith as “an opportunity to grow and become aware of faith in new ways.”
By LeAnn Lemberger