A HOMILY FOR THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEDICATION OF ST. MARIA GORETTI…
Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to all of you on this happy day!
Happy Anniversary to all of you! One of the most noticeable features of this church building is the huge brick wall that stands behind the main sanctuary. Acting as an arrow that points to Heaven, the wall contains within it the amazing five grey brick arches representing the prayer of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “The fruit of Silence is prayer. The fruit of Prayer is faith. The fruit of Faith is love. The fruit of Love is service. The fruit of service is peace.” The huge wall also contains at the top of the arrow, the unforgettable stained-glass window of St. Michael the Archangel, an image that has come to represent our Parish family. In 2005, I received a call from our builder informing me that that big, brick wall right behind me now, won a national masonry award for outstanding craftsmanship. At the time, I joked, “What is the award called? The Golden Trowel Award? And guess what? That was exactly what the award was called! The Golden Trowel Award! It ended up being the only award for design and construction that we won. Who knew? They would really like our bricks!
I want to talk a little bit about that brick wall tonight, on this the 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of this church building. Our Gospel tonight says that “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” I guess since bricks are also sturdy, we can interchange the use of bricks for rocks. Jesus, of course, was speaking to St. Peter. Tonight, Jesus speaks to all of us. And tonight we are reminded that the church really is NOT build of rocks, or bricks, or concrete, or wood, or glass. The real church, the people of God, is made up of you, each one of you, and me. We are the church. Perhaps, though, there is no better symbol in this entire building of who we are, than our awarding-winning brick wall. You see, it takes all of us to make the Church. Just like it took many different bricks to make up this wall. No two bricks are the same. But each brick fills its spot and takes its role, of making the Church strong, and sound, and secure. We know, that if a few of the bricks decide they don’t want to be part of the wall anymore, and pull themselves out. We’d have a holey wall. And I don’t mean holy in a good a way. I mean that the wall would look like swiss cheese. And that’s not a good thing for a brick wall to look like. Because when it comes to brick walls, the more bricks that are missing, the more bricks that are absent, make the wall weak. You take out enough bricks, and the wall will collapse. It will fall over. And that’s what Jesus promises us tonight, that He will never let happen.
And yet, how important it is for all of us to put ourselves into the Church, as living stones, as living bricks we would say here, and make the Church strong! The Church needs each and every one of us! We are not the same. We don’t all have to be the same. Wouldn’t it be a terribly boring church if we were all the same! We need to believe the same things. But we don’t all have to be the same. The Church was always, from the very beginning, made of up of very different people. But when they came together, when they worked together, that is exactly when God did the greatest things with all of them. Where two or three or more are gathered together, there great things happen! The bricks support one another. They all do their part. They all do their job. Together they make something much bigger than themselves!
And isn’t that exactly what we’ve seen here these last ten years? Ten years ago tonight, who would ever have dreamed that St. Maria Goretti Parish would be where we are today? How many souls have been changed? How many people have been brought to the Church? How many of our young people have we sent out into the world with radically different values? How many weddings, and baptisms, and funerals, and first Masses can one parish have? If the past ten years are any indication, there are no limits with our God. We can’t imagine the extraordinary things that God is going to do in our next ten years. But I can promise you, if we work together, if we support and take care of one another, just like that brick wall, that the possibilities are endless!
And who is our best example for doing this? It’s Mary! There’s very specific, very good reasons why on this day when the rest of the Church is celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we are also celebrating the Dedication of our Church and the First Mass ever held here at St. Maria Goretti. Mary is our role model. Nobody knows how to do Church better than Mary. May Mary continue to pray for us, and guide us, and help us to be God’s holy people, the Church.
Solid brick walls can be pretty awesome. Just look at that one. Someone once told me that when they get bored during my homilies that they count those bricks. I said “Really!”. You can count those bricks all you want, just don’t take your brick out of the Church. We need you. You have a job to do.
+ May God bless us all on our 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of our Church building, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!