Exciting things are happening at the UNM Aquinas Newman Center!
We just had our first young adult Bible study, which was a blast and a lot of fun. Fifty-one young people were here, and that during the summer “dead times!” By comparison, last year the average attendance was about five people. The Bible study is now at 6:30 p.m. Mondays.
The number of Masses here being offered has now almost tripled! We now have Mass at 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. every Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sundays – and, once school starts, a 5 p.m. Sunday student Mass with dinner afterward.
The amount of time for the Sacrament of Confession has not doubled, or tripled, or even quadrupled. It has increased 18 times as much so that this incredible encounter with the mercy of God can be as available as possible. It’s twice a day, every day – 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays.
We will start our youth group for pre-college age students on Aug 16. Classes, Catecheses, adult faith formation, mission and service trips – all coming soon! The normal parish services are resuming strong as well, CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine), RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), marriage prep, etc.
The response to everything has been overwhelmingly positive, most especially among young people and the college students of UNM. The Sunday Masses are packed, and there has been an amazing outpouring of support.
Many longtime parishioners are excited and overjoyed as well, even despite the natural sadness that comes from changing priests. One couple came up to me after Mass crying for joy over the beautiful arrangement of the church, (commenting) “It’s just like we remember it when we were married here, before they changed everything in the mid-1990s.”
Others have not ceased to amaze me with a remarkable spiritual maturity. They have welcomed myself and Fr. Michael DePalma, the pastor, with outstretched arms. They understand perfectly well that our faith is not in or about the priest, whomever he may be, but our faith is in Jesus Christ, who works through the priest no matter who the priest is.
I have also heard beautiful reflections from parishioners about our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – that anywhere you go, it is always the same Catholic Church and that we are all one Catholic family.
At the same time too there has been a very small number of people – which to my knowledge does not include a single college student – who have sadly decided to leave without even wanting to give things a chance.
I understand that some might not agree that the sacred liturgy should be celebrated with reverence, devotion, joy and beauty.
I understand that some might not be concerned for faithful and orthodox Catholic teaching.
I understand that some might not want to be immersed and steeped in the actual documents of Vatican II, but instead want to create a “spirit of Vatican II” according to their own wishes.
But we are proud to stand fully in line with our unbroken and incredible 2,000-year tradition in order to bring the fullness of Catholic faith, charity and life to the whole UNM community and beyond. We are proud to stand fully in line with our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis, whose programmatic document, Evangelii Gaudium, in a particular way, we take as our mission statement.
In short, I’m sure you’ve heard about the “changes” here because it has been all over the news, mainly in a sensationalist light. But I hope this gives you a better picture of the reality, which has been extremely uplifting and positive. If you are curious, or if you want to talk about anything, we would love to meet you and talk with you.
Most of all, in the words of Jesus himself, and on behalf of our whole community here, I just invite you for yourself to “come and see.”