Followers of Jesus are called to a higher love, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre said during a regional welcoming Mass May 16 at St. Rita Church.
There will “certainly be times when we disagree,” he said. “May they be few, but may we always seek to love one another as Jesus calls us to, despite our disagreements.”
The liturgy, celebrated in region three, was the third of 11 regional Masses planned throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville, stretching from Derby week to the end of June.
Alongside St. Rita, region three includes St. Aloysius in Shepherdsville, St. Benedict in Lebanon Junction, St. Athanasius, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Guardian Angels, St. Ignatius Martyr, St. Luke and St. Teresa of Calcutta churches.
The new archbishop expressed appreciation to the congregation for welcoming him to the parish and to the archdiocese.
“Thank you sincerely for your enthusiasm and for your warm welcome,” Archbishop Fabre said during the evening Mass. “I’ve told my family that I’m beginning to feel very much at home here and that you’ve welcomed me warmly.”
He explained that the welcoming Masses serve as an opportunity to “encounter each other so we could see who we pray for.”
His homily was translated by St. Rita’s pastor, Father Michael Tobin, who also serves as the archdiocese’s vicar for Hispanic ministry. St. Rita has both an English-speaking membership and a large community of Catholics who worship in Spanish.
The archbishop emphasized times of transition as he preached to the congregation, saying all of us have faced a transition in our lives and that “we have been called to embark together on this journey.”
“Times have changed and transition can be stressful to all,” he said. But it’s helpful to remember that “it’s not about me, but about we, altogether.”
Some transitions are challenging, he said, but we’re called by the Holy Spirit to remember the good and to lift each other up in those times.
“Some transitions are very difficult, such as transitioning to the new reality after the death of a loved one, from youth to the wisdom of old age … to caring for aging parents,” Archbishop Fabre said. “Isaiah provides good advice when life transition is difficult. He reminds us to remember the favors of the Lord.”
Even when the challenges we face tempt us, he said, we must allow love to overwhelm trials.
“Always we must remember favors of the Lord. We must intentionally remember the good he’s done for us.”
He said Isaiah reminds us whose we are and who we are. “We are God’s people. We must always remember who we are. We are God’s people.”
Archbishop Fabre warned against cancel culture, which says “those with whom I disagree are not worthy of my attention or effort,” he explained. “We’re encouraged to vilify them because of our differences.
“Cancel culture is not a ‘we’ way of thinking. It’s a secular way of thinking. It’s not a way of thinking of faithful followers of Christ.”
In times of transition when we may face opposition or when people want us to do things differently from the way we’re used to doing them, the archbishop calls the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville to “be those who seek and give mercy and forgiveness as we journey together.”
“Love is the perspective from which we deal with one another. … It’s easy to love others as I want to love them. But dear friends, Jesus calls us to a higher love. Jesus is the standard and measure of that love, not me.”
He noted that “sometimes we must correct one another, but even in such circumstances we are called to do so with love,” as is the way of Jesus.
Archbishop Fabre concluded his homily with a prayerful call to action.
“We have begun our journey together in the Archdiocese of Louisville,” he said. “May our prayers for one another always be authentic prayers. I know if we strive to do these things that we will accomplish wonderful things in the kingdom of God here in the Archdiocese of Louisville.”
Following Mass, a receiving line formed for those who attended to meet the new archbishop.
Lois Turner, a member of St. Teresa of Calcutta Church, said she “absolutely loved” attending the Mass and appreciated that it was bilingual.
“I felt like I was his friend,” she said. “He was very calming and his emotions showed. I felt like he was truly concerned about his people. He made me feel totally at ease.”
Members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bill and Mary Edelen, said they enjoyed Mass and thought it was a good welcome.
Bill Edelen said his favorite message was that “we’re all in it together.”
“That’s what I was going to say, too,” said his wife. “I really did enjoy it.”
Bill Edelen also appreciated that Mass was celebrated in both English and Spanish. Not only was the homily translated, but the archbishop said the Eucharistic Prayer in Spanish and several songs were in Spanish, as well.
For St. Rita member Rosa Luna, a lector who offered the second reading in Spanish, the opportunity for the Hispanic community to meet the archbishop was priceless.
“We are one of the largest Hispanic communities (in the archdiocese) and part of the Hispanic community is not aware of the archbishop, so it was good for him to introduce himself here,” she said.
“I also liked that he said it’s starting to feel like home here, ‘I’m at home now,’ ” Luna said, quoting the archbishop. “He’s not the bishop of somewhere else anymore.”