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Bishop Fisher Catholic Life Features

St. Luke Feast Day celebrated in Eastern Erie Vicariate

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The Church of the Annunciation in Elma hosted guests from neighboring parishes as they celebrated the seventh in a series of 12 vicariate Masses on the Feast Day of St. Luke, a significant date as Bishop Michael W. Fisher asked everyone to be an evangelizer.

It was St. Luke, the faithful apostle, who stood along St. Paul when he felt abandoned.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher delivers his homily at the Church of the Annunciation. The Elma parish hosted the Eastern Erie Vicariate Mass on Oct. 18. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

It was St. Luke, often represented by the ox, who plowed through no matter what hardships came in his way.

“As we look at this feast of St. Luke, I think it’s an appropriate feast as we celebrate what we are as a diocese and what we continue to be and what we hope to be,” Bishop Fisher said in his homily.

“St. Luke the Evangelist, he’s also the evangelist of Christ’s sort of gentleness, his meekness. Here today, the Church proclaims this Gospel where the main traits of Christ’s apostles were established. Christ is letting us know how we are to be as disciples. Sometimes we have to leave things behind to move forward.”

Much like Jesus’ early disciples, all Catholics, even today, are tasked with going out and spreading the Good News.

“What is the mission of the Church?” the bishop asked. “I think sometimes we forget what it is. But the Lord is very clear about what the mission of the Church is. He said, very clearly in His Gospel today, and it’s one you need to always keep in mind.”

The bishop was told in seminary to always mention the mission of the Church and the Eucharist in every homily.

As we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the diocese, we are reminded of our mission and the traits needed to proclaim it.

“We remember those who have gone on before us,” Bishop Fisher said, bringing up St. John Neumann, who came to Buffalo to minister to the German community.

“He gave up everything. He came from Eastern Europe. He came here to a new country, to a new language, and he gave up everything so that he could proclaim the mission that the Kingdom of God is in hand. To bring the Eucharist and the sacraments to the people who were starving for it,” the bishop explained.

Other bright lights who proclaimed the mission of the Church locally include Venerable Nelson H. Baker, the religious orders who established schools and hospitals in Western New York, and the laity who support their parishes.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher leads the Mass with other priests from the Eastern Erie Vicariate concelebrating the Mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Elma on Oct. 18. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“Many of these churches were built with pennies and nickels that added up, so that the mission of God could continue,” the bishop said. “These were people who understood the mission and what it took to build the faith here and in our other communities and homes. They clearly understood the urgency of the Gospel message and needed to evangelize and to bring as many people to Christ as possible.”

Like St. Luke and St. John Neumann, we can accomplish a great deal if we step out of our comfort zone, the bishop pointed out, referring to the Road to Renewal the Diocese of Buffalo has undertaken to strengthen the community.

“While the Road to Renewal is certainly about addressing the realities of our limited resources and financial constraints. We certainly have our challenges – declining church attendance, the challenge of providing for the sacramental needs of our people, and our obligation to provide our faith-inspired education for our young people. It has everything to do, most importantly, with the renewal of our minds and our hearts, such that we act, not only in the interests of our own particular parish family, but the interest of one another,” the bishop said.

The Eastern Erie Vicariate consists of 20 parishes, many of which were represented in the nearly full church on the night of Oct. 18. Along with the choir from St. Mary Parish in Lancaster, the band consisted of piano, organ, guitars, bass and flute, made up from parishioners of Annunciation, St. George in West Falls and St. Gabriel in Elma.

A reception with homemade cookies followed the Mass.

Bill Markowski, from Annunciation, served as lector for the Mass.

“I thought it was wonderful. It was an honor to have Bishop Mike here, the people, the music, everything about it,” he said.

Sharon Walsh agreed. “Mass was beautiful, very touching and everybody came together. It was very touching,” the Annunciation parishioner said, adding that it is commonplace for the neighboring parishes to come together.

The choir and band representing several parishes in the Eastern Erie Vicariate play during the vicariate Mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Elma on Oct. 18. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“This is a very welcoming parish, ” said her husband, Dave. “We’ve hosted all kinds of events for this area. Not just for the churches in the area, but for the entire community. We have choral groups in. This is really lovely when everyone can come in here and worship together. It’s one thing to celebrate together, it’s nice. But worshiping together is special.”

The next Vicariate Mass will be held at Holy Family Parish (St. Joseph worship site) in Niagara Falls for the Niagara Vicariate community.

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