Pastor’s Easter Message 2019
The events of Holy Week are always a time of reflection and memory for me. I suspect that is true also for many of you. I mark the passing of years by Holy Weeks.
Some of my most vivid memories are connected to the years I was a student in Rome, Italy. I completed my graduate studies in preparation for ordination in 1975-1979, graduating from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
During those years, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in events at the Vatican. The altar servers and ministers you see on television assisting the pope are generally seminarians from the many different countries studying at the many Roman universities.
I was able to help Pope John Paul II on Holy Thursday of 1979. The recent popes have visited Santo Spirito Hospital on that day to pray with the patients. Many poor and indigent patients in Rome are sent to that hospital not far from the Basilica of St. Peter and the Pope’s residence.
As part of the service, the Pope washes the feet of some of the patients. The patients were in wheel chairs or in beds that had been brought into a common gathering space. After each washing, the Pope kissed the foot of the patient. This humble act moved me profoundly. With great kindness and compassion the Pope kissed the gnarled and twisted feet of the poor and infirmed of his own neighborhood.
Because of this experience, I model Pope John Paul’s actions here at our parish. Those attending the services of Holy Thursday saw me wash the feet of twelve parishioners. They represent the diversity of our parish and serve as representatives of all of you. Each year, a different twelve persons are chosen. The rite does not call for the kiss, but it reminds me of my call to humbly serve those around me. It is a memorable and powerful gesture.
The events of Holy Week and the joyous proclamation of Easter call all people of faith to this same kind of service and care for others.
I hope that each of you has a meaningful and faith-filled Easter Season. Alleluia!
The Rev. John E. Norman
Pastor, Saint Vincent DePaul Parish