As we reflect on our upcoming 25th anniversary year, and celebrate a visit to Pilgrim Center of Hope this week by Archbishop Gustavo, we cannot help but recall the many moments of encouragement and challenge given to Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) by our bishops. We hope the selected memories below inspire you to thank your local Shepherd!
Bishop Joseph Galante – We are infinitely grateful for our friendship with Bishop Galante. Since the beginning of 1993, Bishop Galante worked closely with Tom and Mary Jane to develop Pilgrim Center of Hope as an evangelization center. That summer, he celebrated Mass at PCH. We recalled this momentous occasion in our first newsletter:
During his homily at the Consecration Mass of the Center on June 22, Bishop Joseph Galante described the Church’s term of the laity. He said that the Vatican II Council reminded us again that we are a PILGRIM people and that we really don’t understand fully what it means to be a pilgrim people. He explained that if we think about pilgrims and we talk about ourselves being a pilgrim people, we are going back to the time of the Israelites in the desert. Pilgrims are people who believe God’s promise and set out through the desert depending only on God with no itinerary, trusting that God will fulfill that promise which God has made to them, and following God wherever God is leading them. Bishop Galante blessed and consecrated this new ministry and its new location to Our Lord and Our Lady.
Archbishop Patricio F. Flores – Were it not for our dear Archbishop Flores, PCH would not exist. It was during his service as shepherd of the Archdiocese of San Antonio that we wrote him and asked for permission to follow, what we had discerned to be, God’s call. He never ceased to provide us with paternal guidance and prayerful discernment.
Pray for us, Archbishop Flores… May we be reunited in the Eternal Jerusalem!
Archbishop José H. Gómez – After Pilgrim Center of Hope had completed its first ten years of ministry, San Antonio was blessed with the assignment of Archbishop Gomez. During his over five years as our local shepherd, he provided us with support and encouragement. We especially remember his involvement in the Catholic Men’s Conference and Catholic Women’s Conference, as both a Mass celebrant and a poignant speaker who opened up the Scriptures for hundreds of participants.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS – Archbishop Gustavo has been a “pilgrim bishop” for us. Our relationship began with the privilege of organizing the archdiocesan pilgrimage to accompany him to Rome, where he received the pallium—the official symbol of his authority—from Benedict XVI. Our pilgrimage included many members of his family, as well as members of his previous Chicago flock and new San Antonio family. Our time in Rome was preceded by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, for which then-Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu served as spiritual director. Some pilgrims continued their journey after the pallium ceremony, to include some tranquil time in Assisi.
Inspired by the grace and dignity with which Benedict XVI abdicated the papacy on February 28, 2013, our beloved archbishop issued us a prophetic challenge: begin a Catholic Seniors’ Conference. With a keen eye and heart for his people, Archbishop Gustavo expressed his concern amid a ‘throwaway culture’ that seniors realize their enormous value and personal dignity, and be reminded of their crucial role in the Church family.
Our first conference for seniors was organized over the next year, and was held thirteen months after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s inspiring action: April 5, 2014. Participants expressed great surprise and encouragement upon learning the Church’s message. One wrote: “Definitely I had come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church didn’t care for the elderly who were once young & very active in our Church, but I realized through this conference we are the building blocks of our church.”
Each day as staff, we gather in the Chapel and begin our prayer with the Consecration to the Holy Spirit, which Archbishop Gustavo has asked all the faithful of the local Church to pray. Ven Holy Spirit, ven!
So many other wonderful bishops have walked with us in ministry, including Bishop Patrick Zurek—who has supported many pilgrimages as a spiritual director, Bishop Oscar Cantú—who has encouraged and been involved in a large portion of our work including the Ministry of Pilgrimages and of Conferences, and now-Archbishop Paul Etienne—who, after blogging his Holy Land pilgrimage with us as spiritual director, is spreading the word about our Mother Church there.
Why all this work with bishops? Pilgrim Center of Hope is an answer to the Church’s call for a new evangelization, heavily involving the laity in partnership with clergy. We always consider ourselves at the service of God’s people, and take seriously our Shepherds’ authoritative guidance. Looking forward to our anniversary year, we praise and thank God for these spiritual fathers who have taught, encouraged, and challenged us. Let’s all include our bishops in our daily prayers, and thank God for them!