We are familiar with the Gospel account in which Jesus withdrew from the town after learning the devastating news of the beheading of his cousin John the Baptist. Despite Jesus’ attempts to withdraw from the crowds so that he could mourn, thousands followed him. The evangelist Mark then describes that Jesus had compassion upon seeing the crowds, started to teach them, and then fed them all in a miracle that would become known as the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
Some of the most profound encounters with our risen Lord happen in large crowds. It was true in Jesus time, in the time of the Apostles, and true today.
There are many priests and religious who tell me that their call was made known or cemented during a large papal event. Those who are in their 30s recall the power of the papal Mass in Denver in 1993 or at one of the many other World Youth Day gatherings. Many in their 40s and 50s describe one of the papal Masses in the late 1970s or early 1980s as an important moment for their vocation. Locally, many of our current seminarians and deacon candidates mention the Boston Catholic Men’s Conferences as a key milestone in their discernment.
In this bicentennial year of the archdiocese, we are blessed that in mid-April there are three large events for Catholics that God can use to feed us individually and nourish our Catholic community.
The fourth Boston Catholic Men’s Conference and third Boston Catholic Women’s Conference will be held on April 18 and 19. If past years are any indication, more than 4,000 Catholics will gather and listen to moving speakers, experience the forgiving love of Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, adore Christ during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and most of all, be fed as a group in a way that attendees can leave the conferences and help strengthen all of our parishes, schools and ministries. We invite and encourage you to attend. For more information, please see the Web site of the conferences at www.CatholicBoston.org.
On Sunday April 20, 3,000 Catholics from Boston will get an opportunity to join 60,000 Catholics from throughout the U.S. to attend the papal Mass in Yankee Stadium. This Mass will be the culmination of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic journey to the United States, which is entitled “Christ Our Hope.” The Holy Father will recognize in the Mass the bicentennials of the dioceses of Boston, Louisville, New York and Philadelphia and pray with us that the Catholic Church in all of these foundational dioceses will grow in faith, love and dedication.
As noted in last week’s Pilot, requests for tickets for this Mass must be made by Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. Bus transportation has been organized and will be provided for this one-day bicentennial pilgrimage. For more information and to request tickets, please go to the archdiocese’s bicentennial Web site www.Boston200.org.
Let us all pray that Christ will use these large gatherings as times to teach and feed us and our Church so that, united with Christ, we can transform our world.
Scot Landry is secretary for advancement and chief development officer of the Archdiocese of Boston.