I can remember my first experience attending an event like this back in 2005 when I went to World Youth Day in Germany. The World Youth Day events themselves are really large with millions of people so they really don’t compare, but this was the week before all of that craziness when we were staying in a small village of Kunzell. That day, the local diocese hosted an event for all of the people in the area to come as a sort of send off for all of us that were going to the World Youth Day event. I’ll never forget joining a group of people from the village and walking in the rain for probably a half hour to the city of Fulda. As the group of maybe 50 people walked together along the road, we sang songs and prayed the rosary together. There was even a group of parishioners who brought their musical instruments along to play as we made our way. I remember thinking that what was such a new experience for me seemed so normal to all of them, like it was something that they did somewhat regularly. It was just such a cool atmosphere to see so many people showing their faith in such a public way!
That type of atmosphere is what I envision when I think about “Made for Happiness” on September 22nd. It’s really an event that’s difficult to describe because I don’t think we’ve had anything like this in our area in a long time. Similar to last year when we were advertising the beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey, we knew it was going to be a huge event with a lot of people coming together to celebrate a very holy man. But we didn’t anticipate how powerful the atmosphere was. That was probably the biggest comment afterwards for people was how incredible it was to be at a Mass with that big of a crowd. One person even mentioned that it took like 20 minutes for everyone to go to Communion since we all had to process to the concourse to receive and then make our way back to our seats. Many commented that this event really opened their eyes to see how big the church really is.
I really hope that this event can have the same type of effect on people that the above two trips had for me and many others. There are a lot of times where we hear about declining numbers of people who practice the faith and can feel discouraged. Or you can watch the news or hear a conversation somewhere and feel alone in valuing our Catholic faith. Events like these can really help move us out of our current situation to see the bigger picture of what the Lord is doing. That even though there are things happening in the world that disappoint us, the Lord is still bringing people to Him and there are still people who are trying to live holy lives.
I get excited to think about what sort of impact this could have on our parish, as people from here get an opportunity to experience the church in a way that’s different from what they have previously seen. So if you haven’t already signed up for the “Made for Happiness” Diocesan Assembly on September 22nd at the Breslin Center, please consider doing so by going to our parish website at www.mhtparish.com. Let’s pray that this event will be an opportunity for many people to encounter the Lord in a new way and a witness to the beauty of our Catholic church!