The New Evangelization is Christo-centric: Jesus leads us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and makes us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.
In preparation for the episcopal ordinations of Bishop Mark O'Connell and Bishop Robert Reed, this past Friday, last week's Pilot included an extensive supplement filled with photos, well wishes, and information about both bishops and about the traditions surrounding the appointment and ordination of bishops in the Church. Of special interest were stories about how each bishop selected the components in his coat of arms and his episcopal motto.
Heraldic terminology is definitely a language unto itself. What is interesting, however, is the thought and prayer that is involved in the design. Personality, faith, and family history all come in to play, but there are guidelines that must be followed. Heraldry dates back to the Middle Ages and shuns modern images. James-Charles Noonan Jr. worked with the bishops to incorporate their ideas and preferences into their coats of arms. The Pilot describes him as "the leading Catholic heraldist of our time." Mr. Noonan notes, "Catholic heraldry, specifically, does not embrace any modern devices." How then to design the coat of arms for Bishop Reed, Cabinet Secretary for Catholic Media and president and CEO of iCatholic Media, Inc.? Putting modern means of communication at the service of the Gospel has been his work and his joy for years.
The new evangelization is described as being new in its ardor, new in its presentation, and new in its methods. Under Bishop Reed's leadership, the Good News of Jesus Christ has been broadcast on television, live-streamed, and made available in apps -- new ardor, new presentation and new methods. A lightning bolt is an appropriate acknowledgement of this work. His devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux -- who just happens to be a patron saint of the missions -- is displayed in the roses on his crest. The New Evangelization is Christo-centric: Jesus leads us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and makes us share in the life of the Holy Trinity. In comments at the press conference announcing his appointment, Bishop Reed spoke about building up the Church of Boston. He referred to himself as a "radical optimist." And this brings us to Bishop Reed's motto: "Jesus Sola Nobis Spes" ("Jesus is our only hope"). This is a favorite theme of Bishop Reed's and has been the source of many homilies and reflections throughout the years of his priesthood. All of this reflects the New Evangelization.
At that same press conference, Bishop Mark O'Connell revealed his episcopal motto, "Invenimus Messiam" ("We have found the Messiah") and explained its significance, detailing St. Andrew's work as an evangelizer in the Gospel of John. In chapter 1, Andrew goes to his brother, Simon (Peter) and, bringing him to Jesus, tells Peter, "We have found the Messiah." In chapter 6, Jesus and the disciples are on the mountain with a large crowd and no food to feed them. Andrew brings to Jesus a young boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, which, when blessed by Jesus, fed the crowd. Lastly, in chapter 12, Andrew and Philip, met some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus, and they bring them to Jesus.
Bishop O'Connell says that he, "Purposely picked an evangelization motto.... Andrew is an evangelizer." He "wants to follow Andrew's example" and hopes to "be an evangelist first to family, then to the next generation, and then to those who don't know Christ." Pope Francis' call to evangelize has been a great inspiration to him, especially going out to the margins, but, says Bishop O'Connell, we have to start at home. "To me, the New Evangelization has a lot to do with going to our own people, it's not just about bringing in new people." In his statement at the press conference in June, then-Bishop-Elect O'Connell said, "Please God, I will bring people to meet the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and to whom I owe everything in my life." He echoed this in a passionate way in his remarks at the ordination on Wednesday, "There are so many people I want desperately to meet and show them their Messiah."
The Archdiocese of Boston is greatly blessed and enriched by these two new Auxiliary Bishops who are clearly and intentionally messengers of the New Evangelization.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.
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