Last evening, my wife and I attended the first session of this year’s Triduum in honor of St Joseph the Worker which the Oblates of St Joseph sponsor every year at their seminary chapel in Laflin/Pittston. The 4-day celebration consists of three days of evening devotions and concludes with a mid-morning Mass on Labor Day.
Prior to the start of yesterday’s service, both Fr Paul McDonnell OSJ (rector of the seminary) and Fr Leo McKernan administered the Sacrament of Penance in the confessionals. [very Vianney-like in this Year for Priests!] The chapel was filled by the time the service began. After graciously welcoming everyone, Fr McDonnell led us in the various prayers used for the Triduum. Fr McDonnell, himself a very gifted preacher and public speaker, introduced Fr Leo McKernan (our Diocesan Preacher for “Called to Holiness and Mission”), who will be preaching at each of the evening services. The mutual respect and fraternal bond between these two men was evident in Fr McDonnell’s introduction, which was not brief and cursory, but in which I sensed honor and tribute as Fr McDonnell shared with us some of his knowledge of Fr Leo. Also present was Patrick McLaughlin, an OSJ seminarian. Fr McDonnell joked that the Italian OSJ priests who started the ministry in Pittston must be rolling over in their graves seeing three Mc’s leading the service!
Fr Leo took the pulpit and began by reading Matthew 1:18-25. After some general comments on work and St Joseph, he advised us that his topic for the evening would be “St Joseph: A Man of Silence.” Beginning with an excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Angelus message on 12/18/2005 that highlighted the silent life of St Joseph, Fr Leo taught the importance of silence in our life, and, in contrast, noted the dearth of silence in our culture today. Using Sacred Scripture, an excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos, quotes from Blaise Pascal and Bd Teresa of Calcutta, and personal memories from his childhood, he clearly made the point that, if we don’t build into our lives quiet and silence, it will be difficult for us to hear the call of God and the Word of the Lord.
After Fr Leo’s homily, we received Holy Communion, then took time to adore our Savior in Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. We were blessed with beautiful organ-accompanied songs throughout the service. The evening concluded with each of us receiving an individual blessing with a relic of St Joseph Marello, founder of the Oblates of St Joseph.
Tonight Fr Leo will be preaching on “St Joseph: A Man on a Journey.” I’m sure you would be blessed by attending!