In a homily at the opening Mass in Lourdes, France, for the annual pilgrimage of the Order of Malta on May 2nd, celebrant Archbishop Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit asked us why our Lady appeared to Bernadette in 1848 in Lourdes. His answer was simple: “Our Lady appeared to Bernadette because she came to evangelize; she is the greatest evangelizer in the Church.” Like her son, Mary, too, is an instrument of physical and spiritual healing. As a mother, she chose to appear to a poor, illiterate young woman of 13 or 14 much like herself. Bernadette, who witnessed 18 apparitions, became a saint in 1933, and today the site of the apparitions is a place of pilgrimage for six million people each year. As Archbishop Vigneron reminded us, a few will receive a miracle at Lourdes, but everyone will be healed.
My week in Lourdes was the perfect setting for my trip to the Diocese of Brooklyn on May 16th to celebrate the accomplishments of the first graduates of the Holy Spirit Institute for Leadership and Service in Brooklyn, which partners with CDU to provide certificates and degrees in Religious Education and Theology. The Holy Spirit Institute for Leadership and Service, which was formed to develop diocesan leadership, is sponsored by Bishop DiMarzio and the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, Mr. Ted Musco. At the graduation Mass, CDU was presented with a Collaboration Award from the Diocese.
As I met graduates and their families after the Mass, I was so inspired by their stories and excitement about how their CDU education has transformed them in their parish work. One woman who runs an RCIA program explained that while she has always loved her faith, she did not have the understanding or vocabulary to explain and defend it until she completed her certificate from CDU. In addition to the RCIA program, she has started a new program with Hispanic couples who live together to help them understand the importance of the Church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Marriage. She is grateful to be able to communicate the beauty of the Church’s teachings to those in her community who have not yet encountered the “Good News.”
Another graduate, a Peruvian doctor who emigrated to Brooklyn, is very active in her parish. She is considering the MA Degree Program in Theology as her children and grandchildren are grown, and she liked the flexibility of studying online at CDU.
As we approach CDU’s 36th anniversary on August 22, 2019, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, we marvel at the presence of Our Lady, who is the Queen of CDU and the greatest evangelizer in the Church!