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Prayers go out to Our Lady Undoer of Knots at Renewal Mass

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher prepares for Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown, with Deacon Greg Moran, Deacon Timothy Chriswell, and Father Bryan Zielenieski. The Aug. 29 Mass was for the diocesan Road to Renewal. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

The faithful of the Diocese of Buffalo have begun a journey to reinvigorate the Catholic faith throughout Western New York. There is also a desire to better optimize parish resources and increase the impact of parish ministries. Just as Jesus’ disciples traveled with Him on the road to Emmaus, the local disciples are traveling on their own Road to Renewal.

A statue of Mary is carried throughout the grounds of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown. The procession was followed by a Mass for the Renewal of the Buffalo Diocese. (Photo By Patrick J. Buechi)

This road took them to Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown on Aug. 29, where a special Mass for parish representatives took place. The Mass served as a request to Our Lady Undoer of Knots to help renew the local Church.

“The need for renewal means that we must acknowledge the challenges and knots of imperfection that plague our diocese,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher. “As we admit our most grievous faults, we ask the Blessed Mary ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, our brothers and sisters throughout our diocese, to pray for us to the Lord our God.”

Parish representatives offered reflections on the knot of abuse, the knot of indifference, the knot of mistrust, the knot of faithlessness, and the knot of isolation. The reps in attendance were asked to bring a length of rope and tie a knot for each of the reflections.

“The knotted rope symbolizes the struggles our diocese is enduring,” explained Father Bryan Zielenieski, vicar for Renewal and Development. “As representatives, you are being asked to take this knotted rope back to your parish, explain it, and place it in an area of significance for your parish. As we move through the renewal, at various points you will be asked to undo a knot to symbolize the renewed life and hope of our diocesan renewal.”

During his homily, Father Zielenieski offered two definitions of renewal – resuming an activity and the repair of something that is worn out or broken.

“I think the definitions of renewal fit perfectly with what we need to do as a diocese,” he said. “It’s an acknowledgement that we need to resume our mission and ministry to the Gospel. And the time is now. It is not about being scared or afraid of the Gospel message or the mission that Jesus has placed each of us on no matter our state in life. But now is the time. Today is the day.”

Just as the Gospel reading for that day spoke of hypocrites, Father Bryan Zielenieski admitted that the Diocese of Buffalo has sometimes participated in hypocrisy rather than humility. As advocates for renewal, we must serve what God teaches.

Rose Marie Castner knots a rope during the Renewal Mass. The rope will be taken back to her parish and undone throughout the year to mark milestones in the Road to Renewal. The diocesan Road to Renewal program is under the patronage of Our Lady Undoer of Knots. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“We are called not just to listen to the renewal, but to become advocates, to proclaim the religion that is pure and wholesome in our world and in our diocese,” he said. “As we focus on the renewal, all of us in the Diocese of Buffalo, those present here today, and those back in our parishes need to know what our ideal is. That ideal church is an authentic right relationship with God that is lived out among all people, particularly the most vulnerable. That, number two, the truth of Fatima, the truth of our faith focusing on conversion, penance, Eucharist, the rosary will lead renewal if we are authentic in practicing those. And that we need to, number three, acknowledge hope. … True hope is in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The paschal mystery gives us all the hope we need to be successful in God’s mission for us.”

At the end of Mass, Bishop Fisher commissioned parish representatives, laying out their four-point mission of teaching, sanctifying, serving and unifying. The reps agreed to participate in the renewal work to serve the mission of Jesus, to pray and participate in the Sunday Eucharist, and to discern, promote and support the changes that are needed to bring the diocese to a more effective implementation of the mission of the Church.

Elizabeth Hoffman was honored to be asked to represent Epiphany of Our Lord Parish in Langford.

“It’s important because I think there has been a lot of mistakes that have happened in the past and it’s important for us to get a fresh start and focus on what’s ahead,” she said.

As a trustee of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Cheektowaga, Rose Marie Castner, believes it is her duty to be involved.

“I believe that it is important to have the laity involved in this and not just a clergy mission. That’s why I believe the laity has to take their role in this.”

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