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Diocese of Metuchen kicks off “Year of Awakening”

December 12, 2018

METUCHEN – Hundreds of worshipers filled the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi Dec. 12 for the official launch of a “Year of Awakening” for Catholics in the Diocese of Metuchen.

Bishop James F. Checchio presided at the evening liturgy, which marked the start of a yearlong intentional preparation that will lead to a consecration of the Diocese of Metuchen to Jesus through Our Lady of Guadalupe on the same date next year, in 2019.

The chosen date for the diocesan-wide observance marks the traditional Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is known as the Patroness of the Americas and the Star of the New Evangelization. For more information, visit www.lightingheartsonfire.org.

In explaining the initiative, Bishop Checchio spoke of the importance of a unified effort among Catholics of the four-county diocese to embark on a journey of spiritual renewal.

“It’s been a joy to get to know the people of the diocese since I first arrived here; and what I picked up during my pastoral visits over the past two-and-a-half years is the need for a renewal of our commitment to God and to our Church. While we have been planning this consecration for over a year, recent events have made this need for renewal more urgent in my mind. This is a perfect time to begin.”

The bishop explained, “The term ‘consecration’ basically is a ‘setting apart’ of people or an object – in this case, our diocese – to make something sacred or holy, usually for a particular purpose, in order to deepen our relationship with God.”

“The purpose of the consecration is to be reinvigorated in our relationship with Jesus, and to see that we are part of God’s purposes,” Checchio said. “What the world needs most is love – God is love – and He chooses to love the world through us.”

In that light, he said, “I pledge to you to do my part, to renew my commitment to Christ, to use this time to deepen my own fervor for Him and His Gospel message, and to try to be an even better servant for you, the people of God of this diocese.”

Bishop Checchio expressed his overwhelming desire is to renew and awaken the faith in each and every heart and, in doing so, to begin a new great wave of evangelization in parishes and institutions.

“As I shared with you in my first pastoral letter, Lighting a fire in the heart of our world, my desire is that we become kindling so that the Holy Spirit could set us on fire and enable us to go out and be His disciples in the world, as He asks us to do. It’s a hard challenge but it’s God’s call to us. I know I can count on you.”

Brother Patrick Reilly, BH, director of the Catholic Center at Rutgers University, who has been involved in the planning of the consecration since the beginning said, “This is a privileged time for us. I believe the Lord wants to do something for the Diocese of Metuchen that helps to rebuild our church in a real way.” 

“Despite difficult times in the church, past and present, we look to the saints to help us rebuild our Church. For Catholics, Mary is the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Saints. By consecrating the diocese to Jesus through Mary, she will allow us to understand how to receive God’s grace and how to evangelize and be missionary disciples,” Reilly said.

“I think it was truly inspired that Bishop Checchio has chosen to place this renewal initiative under the patronage and protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Father Timothy Christy, vicar general of the diocese. “By placing our need – in an intentional way before Mother Mary of Guadalupe – we are making clear that we are not about business as usual, but recognize God’s grace as the source of all conversion. God has acted in the past through Mary’s intercession, and we have expectant faith He will act in our plea for her help now.”  

All people of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties are invited and encouraged to participate in some way, including those who regularly attend Mass, those who no longer come to church and those who have not yet made the personal decision to follow Jesus Christ, said Jodie D’Angiolillo, diocesan director of Evangelization, who is leading the planning and implementation efforts. 

Throughout the year, there will be various opportunities for people to get together to prepare for the consecration next December. These events will include Eucharistic Holy Hours that will provide kerygmatic preaching, teaching and witness along with opportunity for confession. Other events include pilgrimages, movie nights, bible studies and youth-centered rallies. These events will be promoted in Catholic parishes and schools as well as via the diocese’s print, online and social media platforms. The diocese’s Evangelization Office has established a website to share information, updates and resources related to the initiative: www.lightingheartsonfire.org.

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