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Bishop Burbidge joins the Diocese of Richmond as it celebrates its bicentennial year

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As part of the Diocese of Richmond’s bicentennial year, it celebrated its first Eucharistic Congress Nov. 6-7. While much of the event was virtual due to COVID-19, a Mass was concelebrated by seven bishops, including Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, and three archbishops, including Cardinal-designate Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, William E. Lori of Baltimore and Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, Nov. 7 at St. Peter Pro-Cathedral, the diocese’s first cathedral, which still serves as a parish in downtown Richmond.

In his homily, Richmond Bishop Barry C. Knestout, reflecting on Mark 16:15-20, said that the people of the diocese have been carrying out the great mission on which Jesus sent the apostles.

“The people of the Diocese of Richmond have done this for 200 years — taught the faith, brought unity to a broken world, ministered to the weak, vulnerable and sick, and have gathered to carry out the faith, hope and charity to which we are called.”

The bishop emphasized that the Eucharist is a “blessing” and a “gift from God.”

“We are nourished in the presence and glory of God,” he said. “By our reception of the Eucharist and by our adoration of the Lord present in his body and blood, we taste the first fruits of heaven.”

Bishop Knestout expressed gratitude for what the diocese has accomplished in its history.

“We are deeply, profoundly grateful as we celebrate 200 years of faith and charity in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that in communion with God and with one another and in fulfilling the church’s mission we have assisted in the work of the church to transform our culture and Commonwealth to image more beautifully, more fully, the Gospel and the love of Christ,” he said.

Representing the Diocese of Arlington, which was a part of the Diocese of Richmond until its establishment in 1974, were Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde and Bishop Burbidge, the homilist for the holy hour at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond.

Noting the challenge the pandemic had presented for the faithful in being able to receive the Eucharist, Bishop Burbidge said, “Perhaps these months have reminded us of how easy it is to take the precious gift of the Holy Eucharist for granted and to lose what St. John Paul II referred to as ‘eucharistic wonder and awe.’ We will always have that wonder and awe when we receive the gift with devotion.”

In anticipation of the eucharistic procession that was about to take place outside around the block on which the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is located, the bishop told those in attendance and those viewing via livestream, “We also acknowledge that the celebration occurs at a time when our nation is experiencing so much turmoil and unrest and witnessing many evils and injustices. Now, more than ever, it is Jesus we must bring into our streets and communities in the sure and certain hope that he will heal, renew and unite us. That is what we will actually do today: carry Jesus in a procession on to our streets and into a world desperately in need of his great presence and saving work.”

In his virtual keynote address, “A Eucharistic Vision for Today’s World” the previous evening, Cardinal-designate Gregory spoke about a resurgence in eucharistic devotion among Catholics, and noted the responsibility that comes with it — a commitment to justice and charity, including “the still unfinished work of eradicating racism in our society — a topic that has come to the fore in recent months perhaps as never before.”

“One cannot pray before the Blessed Sacrament — the Bread of Life — and not eventually also recall that all those who dine on the Lord’s generosity have a responsibility in justice and in charity to respond to the needs of those who hunger for ordinary bread each day,” he said.  “The true evidence of a proper eucharistic devotional life is a deeper commitment to the needs of the poor, the forgotten, the ones whom Christ identified as the least of His sisters and brothers.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020