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SOUTH END -- Teachers of the faith from across the Archdiocese of Boston came together at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston Sept. 18 to attend a special Mass honoring the work that they do.
Celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, the Jubilee Pilgrimage and Mass for Catechists and Catholic School Teachers was held as a way to allow teachers of faith to connect, as well as to thank them for their work in education.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley noted the important role teachers and catechists play in communicating to new generations the "rich social doctrine of the Catholic Church."
"Extreme individualism and materialism of our culture tries to reduce religion to some inner feeling, a little poetry, a little ritual, but that's a parody of what the Catholic faith is about. We are preparing new generations for a way of life, a life of discipleship," he said.
"We must instill a sense of vocation in all the members of our Church... All of us have a special calling in life, and at the same time as members of Christ's Church, we all share in a common mission that we need to do together -- to transform society by the ideals in the Gospel," the cardinal continued.
He said the work of teaching the faith can be challenging at times, yet noted that youth are drawn to the Gospel.
"I see that our young people are searching for meaning, for a purposeful life, and this is precisely what the Gospel offers you," he said.
"Being Catholic is a way of life, of discipleship and community, where we're called together and take care of each other, Cardinal O'Malley continued.
He concluded his homily with words of thanks.
"Thank you for being here today. Thank you for your commitment to pass on the faith, and may God's merciful love more visible by the witness of your life," he said.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Kathy Mears, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the archdiocese, also offered her thanks to those who help educate the next generation in the faith.
"I just want to say thank you to our catechists (and) our teachers. Your vocation allows you to share your faith, and that is a true gift to the Church, so thank you for doing that," she said.
"Thank you for teaching our children how to genuflect, how to make the sign of the cross, how to pray. Thank you for teaching them about mercy, and the real presence of Jesus... We could not do what we do without you, the Church is dependent on you, and we are very grateful for your gift," she continued.
Father Paul Soper, cabinet secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, also offered remarks.
He thanked the teachers and catechists, and offered them the support of the Church.
"We pledge to support you in the parishes and in the schools, in your own journey of discipleship, so that you can not only be teachers teaching students, but disciples forming disciples," Father Soper said.
After the final blessing, all those in attendance were invited follow Cardinal O'Malley as he lead a procession out through the main doors of the cathedral and then back in through the Holy Door of Mercy.
Mary DiMarzo of St. Margaret of Antioch Parish in Burlington teaches 3rd grade religious education and attended the Mass with her husband, and her young son, Nicholas, who is one of her students.
Standing next to her son, she said the Mass "was pretty exciting. We got to meet Cardinal Seán, and that was beyond awesome."
"He's nice," chimed in Nicholas.
A catechist at St. Monica Parish in Methuen, Annette Karl said the Mass was "wonderful" and "very inspirational."
"I'm going to go back and talk about prayer to my group," she said.
One of her sons, Michael Karl, called the Mass "very, very inspiring." and said he was happy to have seen the cardinal.
"I actually served a Mass with Cardinal Seán in the past. He gave me a special rosary that I hang on my bed every night," he said, smiling.