Updated: Nov 15, 2020
What we witnessed in our parish last weekend with the beatification of Blessed Michael McGivney and all of the events surrounding it that we called “McGivney Festival” have been one of the most amazing 72 hours of my life and, I hope, many of your lives as well. Of all the Catholics in our country, 99.999% will never be as close to a beatification or canonization as we were privileged to be. It is not an exaggeration at all to say that history was made in our parish last weekend. There was a palpable spirit of excitement and of devotion in those who came throughout the weekend. Whether it was someone standing out front on the sidewalk as the official banner of Blessed Michael’s image was revealed, or the lone pilgrim who came during one of the wee hours of the overnight just to spend an hour quietly praying in the church, I invite you to join me in continuing to pray for every pilgrim who came at any point throughout the weekend… as well as the countless thousands who participated via TV coverage or internet streaming. We are now, more than ever, a “pilgrim parish” and as part of being so, the Lord is calling us to be prayer warriors on behalf of all those from the outside who have come and will come in the days and months and years ahead to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of our blessed.
The parish was graced to receive a major relic of Fr. McGivney in a beautiful reliquary, and while we cannot simply leave it out all the time (too easy for something like that to be stolen), we will bring it out for special occasions. If you are wondering why we need a major relic when we have his whole body in a tomb, part of my answer would be: But we can’t carry a whole tomb in a procession! J So having something a little more mobile will be of great value. We also received another surprise gift over the weekend… the identity of that, for now, will be revealed down the road.
An event of this magnitude could not be pulled off without the help of so many people. Just from our parish alone, we had over 100 volunteers assisting in some form with the festival. Listing all of their names here would be impossible. I do want to draw attention to a few people, without whom the event could not have happened in the way it did. First on that list is Lori Myers who agreed to be our parish volunteer coordinator who had the nearly impossible job of organizing all of those volunteers and finding ways for everyone to assist according to their abilities and desires. Bob Goossens and Mike Tortora were there nonstop and, in their typical way, filling in doing anything at all that was needed at the moment, and Joe Myers was a constant presence in the same way. Marianne Esposito spearheaded the onsite check in and registration process, much of which involved braving the cold temperatures and sometimes inclement weather outside. Bethany Ippolito spent many hours promoting the events through multiple social media channels. Matt McGrath coordinated the work of the wider Knights of Columbus volunteers from throughout the state, and was heroic in being sure that we had adequate volunteers for those very late night shifts when most people were comfortably sleeping in their own beds. Rose Sullivan and her crew from the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Director provided immense logistical support for the advanced registration process. Tom Perretta was instrumental in helping us to acquire many of the supplies needed for the weekend. Peter Sonski from the Knights of Columbus oversaw all of the planning with the production crew (CMI) that was here and he also coordinated the fabrication of the beautiful outdoor display panels which will remain in the walkway between the church and priory moving forward. Finally, last but not least, I wish to thank all of my brother Dominicans who worked tirelessly on this event, but most of all our Prior, Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, whose experienced expertise, drive, and connections made this event what it was. As Pastor, all of the compliments will fall on my shoulders, but it was really Fr. Kalisch who made this event what it was.
That list only scratches the surface of the many more to whom all of us owe a profound debt of gratitude. May everyone who in any way assisted in these events be rewarded greatly by the Lord for their contributions. Blessed Michael McGivney, pray for us!
Fr. John Paul