November 16, 2012

Saint is a model of the new evangelization, priest says

Divine Word Father Stephan Brown offers a sign of peace to Rhoda and Thomas Keough during the 10th annual St. Martin de Porres feast day Mass on Nov. 3 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis. (Photos by Mike Krokos)

Divine Word Father Stephan Brown offers a sign of peace to Rhoda and Thomas Keough during the 10th annual St. Martin de Porres feast day Mass on Nov. 3 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis. (Photos by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

The portrait painted during the Mass created a beautiful mosaic of the Church.

Readings proclaimed in English and Spanish. Petitions prayed in those languages as well as in French, Tagalog and Chinese.

African-Americans and Latinos making up the majority of the choir and the nearly 250 people in the congregation during the archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry’s 10th annual St. Martin de Porres feast day Mass on Nov. 3 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis.

“God is great, all the time. All the time, God is great,” said Divine Word Father Stephan Brown, who was the principal celebrant and homilist, at the beginning of the bilingual Mass.

“We are celebrating the greatness of God,” the priest later added.

During his homily, which he shared in both English and Spanish, Father Stephan reflected on St. Martin de Porres as a model for people of faith.

A Dominican brother who lived from 1579 to 1639 in Lima, Peru, Martin was the son of a Spanish nobleman and freed Panamanian slave of African descent. He is also much admired by African-American and Hispanic Catholics.

The priest said the saint, who was “a man of faith, a man of love and man of mission,” lived three characteristics of the new evangelization.

“The first characteristic is that we must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Father Stephan, former pastor of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, who now serves as university minister and assistant to the president at St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla. “You and I must be men and women of prayer.

“Christ is the center of the evangelization,” he said. “Christ is the reason for which we proclaim the message. The Church exists in order to evangelize.”

The second characteristic, the priest said, is a passion for Christ, “a passion to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

The annual St. Martin de Porres celebration, Father Stephan said, is an example of African-Americans and Latinos coming together to live out that faith.

“This is what it looks like to live the [new] evangelization,” he said.

The third characteristic of the new evangelization that St. Martin de Porres lived was having a missionary’s heart, Father Stephan said. A person who has a missionary or servant’s heart loves God “with all their heart, soul and mind,” and their neighbor as themself, he said.

“This is what it means for us as Church. The new evangelization is rooted in that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is rooted in love of God and love of neighbor. It is rooted in service. It is rooted in extending our lives to one another,” the priest said.

The new evangelization, Father Stephan added, calls us to follow St. Martin de Porres’ example, and “model his love, his prayer, his service, his commitment in our love and service to one another.”

Franciscan Brother Moises Gutierrez said the annual feast day Mass was an opportunity to bring together and appreciate the richness of the Church.

“This year’s celebration was more intimate,” said Brother Moises, who serves as coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry.

“The main celebrant [Father Stephan] was so good, the whole message he gave us taking St. Martin de Porres as an example of evangelizing in our time,” Brother Moises said.

Deacon Kerry Blanford, parish life coordinator of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, said the gathering was a unique way to show the local Church’s diversity.

“We don’t do enough of this. This is a much more diverse archdiocese than any of us stop to consider,” Deacon Blanford said.

Franciscan Sister Jannette Pruitt, project coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry, agreed.

“I think that we need to come together as often as possible,” she said, “and to celebrate this oneness that we have in the Church.” †

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