Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 20, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Is 56:1, 6-7 / Ps 67 / Rom 11:13-15, 29-32 / Mt 15:21-28
by Rev. Salvador Anonuevo, Pastor
A few years ago, Bishop DiLorenzo visited us here in Holy Name of Mary. After celebrating Mass on this altar and preaching at this ambo, he was at McNally Hall to meet and greet all of us, the Christian family of Holy Name. One of our Faith Formation children asked him, “How long do you think you will be our bishop?”
He showed her his ring and said, “This ring is pretty much like your dad and mom’s wedding rings. Since the day they got married, they have always been and will always be together as husband and wife all the days of their lives.” He added, “I will also be your bishop for as long as I live.”
Bishop DiLorenzo was indeed our bishop here in the Richmond diocese until he gave his last breath three nights ago. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, he always talked about how he enjoyed his visit here in our parish, and he was so grateful for the warm welcome we gave him.
He has a special connection to us here, the clergy and the staff of Holy Name. He ordained Deacon Eddie to the diaconate. He accepted me as one of the incardinated priests here in the Richmond diocese. And he appointed Rita Zimmermann as the chair of the diocesan commission on education for six years.
Just twelve days ago, I had the privilege to be one of the last priests, and perhaps the last one, to have the annual one-on-one colloquium with him before he was born into life eternal. For those who also had the privilege to know him personally (and Deacon Eddie can attest to this), he was such a joy to be around. You simply enjoyed talking to him, because you could feel how interested he was in your life.
Many of us here are aware of the fact that, as our bishop, he prayed for all of us, the faithful in this diocese, every single day, at least seven times a day. Our faith tells us that he continues to pray for us now.
In today’s first reading, which is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord God said, “Observe what is right, and do what is just.” This is what Bishop DiLorenzo has been doing for more than seventy-five years as a Christian, for more than forty-nine years as a priest, and almost thirty years as a bishop. This is also what the Lord God wants each of us to do, as God’s children.
Just six days ago, while he was lying in the hospital bed in St. Mary’s, just three days before he died, he wrote to all of us, the faithful in this diocese, a second statement as a response following the events in Charlottesville. He said he continues to join all of us as we turn to God in prayer and ask for His mercy, pardon, and wisdom as we root out these longstanding evils. Last Sunday, in his homily, Deacon Eddie quoted the bishop’s first statement where he prayed St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer of peace.
Even in the last days and hours of his life here on earth, even when he was in constant pain, he was thinking about all of us, the members of his flock, especially those who are undergoing trials and difficulties in life.
During his first few months as our bishop here in Richmond, someone asked him about his view of the Church and the mystical Body of Christ. To paraphrase his answer, he said: “The Church is like a box of chocolates. There are some with fruits, and some have nuts. It is my ministry to keep everyone inside the box.” Then he added, “I love them all unconditionally, and I will continue to offer my life and ministry for all of them.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the man whom we call Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo. Some address him as “Your Excellency.” Catholics call him “Bishop.” The DiLorenzo family call him “Frank.” He is just a simple man with a loving heart, who always brought his lunchbox to the office. Who tried to observe what is right and do what is just and serve God’s people.
As we pray for the repose of his soul in this Mass, let us also ask for his prayers, that we may also be able to live the teachings of the Gospel, so that one day, together with him and with all the heavenly angels and saints, we may have a happy reunion in the eternal dwelling of our Father in heaven.