Our Youth & Young Adults Evangelize in Their Actions

I recently had a pleasant surprise when a dozen or so youth of the St. Agnes Cathedral’s Vietnamese community helped serve a Friday evening meal under the leadership of Sr. Grace Nguyen, CMR, from Springfield Catholic High School. I try to participate as often as possible in the meal program for local homeless, hosted on Friday evenings by neighboring Grace United Methodist Church, of Springfield. As I saw the students interacting with the guests who came for a meal, I was mindful of the recent words of our Holy Father as he spoke to a group from Florence, Italy. He encouraged us that while giving to others in need we must look at those we help in the eye and touch their poverty with our hands and hearts. He went on to say, “Be close to the people you help.” These youth did just that.
When hearing confessions, the Holy Father will often ask people if they help the poor, and when they say yes, the Pope will respond, “And tell me, when you give to the poor, do you look in the eyes of the person, touch their hand or just throw the money there?” He challenged the group to “touch, touch, TOUCH poverty”… and develop “a heart that touches, to look and to understand the other.” This is similar to his message when he visited South America on his first visit after his election to the papacy, when he encouraged people to look at the poor and talk to them.
What happens when you look at the poor and talk to them? I think you discover our common humanity. I have often walked away from serving a Friday evening meal thinking that I have more in common with them than I first realized! Mother Teresa came to that insight when she wrote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Saint Vincent De Paul referred to the poor as our patrons and that it is a privilege to serve them. As we continue in our Lenten journey, may our works of charity—in whatever form they take— help us to encounter Christ in the poor and help alleviate suffering in His name.

I was recently notified that Jeffrey Roxas, part of the Catholic Campus Ministry on the campus of Missouri State University, Springfield, has been named the 2024 Rising Star in campus ministry. He is one of five national recipients identified for his outstanding work, and we are so proud that he is part of our team at CCM. He will be honored on April 11, 2024, in Dallas, TX, at the Newman Ministry Awards Banquet. Congratulations Jeffrey!

At the same time, Dr. Andrew Mercer, PhD, Director of Religious Education for CCM, also in Springfield, has been invited to deliver a paper at the Oxford Patristics Conference, Aug. 5-9, in Oxford, England. His paper will explore the topic of the early Christian view of peace as a necessary component of human flourishing. In the midst of so many international conflicts, the topic of peace and human flourishing is quite timely. Congratulations Dr. Mercer!

By now, I hope you have heard of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage, “Anima Christi ’24,” sponsored by the College Council Knights of Columbus at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau. These college Knights and others will spend their spring break accompanying the Blessed Sacrament as they go on a caravan pilgrimage throughout the diocese, March 10 – 17. The trek will begin in Joplin and will be completed in Cape Girardeau, for a total of 21 stops. At each parish, there will be time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or depending on the location and time of day, Holy Mass as well. Please find the graphic in this issue of The Mirror on p. 11, scan the QR code using your smartphone, consult the route, and make plans to participate in our local, historical, and solemn pilgrimage during this celebration of the national Eucharistic Revival.

As you can see, there are wonderful things occurring on our college campuses and I’m so grateful for the leadership of our campus staff members. Our annual Bishop’s Collection, the Diocesan Development Fund, offers annual grants to help meet their budgets and I could not be more pleased. Thank you! It is truly money well spent, investing in the Church’s energetic campus disciples!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Published in the March 01, 2024 issue of The Mirror.