Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Last Saturday, I met with almost 300 Hispanic Youth for Mass and a conference at St. Adalbert Parish in Milwaukee. The proud pastor is Fr. Mauricio Fernandez, who devotes a good deal of his time evangelizing the community and supporting the formation of our youth. This was a normal yearly meeting that had been interrupted by the pandemic. It always gave me an opportunity to connect with the Hispanic Youth and hear their concerns about the Church and the difficulties they face. The Mass was a joyous occasion that was assisted by the lively music of “Apostles in Action,” a youth group that helped to organize the day. The teens, as well as their youth groups, were from various parishes in the Milwaukee area.
After the Mass, we gathered in a conference area, and I prepared to receive the questions given by the youth. I usually expected the questions to be directed toward a defense of the Church’s teachings or positions, but much to my surprise, the questions centered on living one’s faith. I am going to present the questions to you, my LOA community, and ask you how you would answer these questions.
- There was a moment that God spoke to St. Francis of Assisi, saying: “Rebuild my Church.” Those words pierce our hearts today within these pandemic times. What would your advice be for us that may help us to rebuild our parish communities, and our hurt families, from this pandemic crisis?
- Most of us are experiencing a faith crisis from this pandemic. Many people have died and yes, we are mourning the dead of our beloved ones. What would you say to help us understand this great moment of suffering?
- Many of our friends challenge us about our faith and ask about our devotional practices as Catholics. In your opinion, what is the most amazing thing about being Catholic?
- How can we help other teenagers to experience a meaningful experience of the sacramental life of the Church?
- A group of us are getting ready to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. How would you encourage us to keep growing in our faith after this formation program ends?
Imagine these questions being posed to you by your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or even by an interested young teen of a close friend. It certainly challenges us to think about how we live our faith, integrate it into our daily lives and examine how our faith effects our culture. Not a bad practice to pray and reflect upon these questions for ourselves.
Probably for me, the most intriguing question was, “What is the most amazing thing about being a Catholic?” There were many things that ran through my mind. The Trinity, the Incarnation, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, Mary, the Church, the Saints. But in the end, the most amazing thing came down to a very simple expression: God loves you. Everything that is expressed in our faith is a constant statement that God loves us. This is amazing that the all-powerful God, the very ground of our being, should care about you and me.
Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It can motivate individuals to sacrifice their lives or to transform their lives. God’s love for us affirms that whatever we encounter in this life, His plan is a loving response for all eternity. We were made by Him, to live for Him and to embrace Him forever. Let us appreciate this gift of God’s love by following the Son’s command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 12, 2021 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.