By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
CLINTON — The church began this Year of Faith with one Holy Father and will end it with another, Bishop Robert W. Finn told Catholics from the southern region of the diocese Sept. 29.
Celebrating Mass for the Year of Faith, Bishop Finn said that the transition from Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis was a sign of the church’s apostolic tradtion of “handing on the faith from one successor of St. Peter to another.”
“In God’s providence, he gives us who we need at our particular moment,” he said.
While popes have changed, the central truths of the Catholic faith have not, Bishop Finn said in his homily at Holy Rosary Parish in Clinton.
“Jesus Christ is true God and true man,” he said. “He suffered, he died and he rose again.”
Catholics also believe in seven sacraments, “beautiful sacraments of salvation through which God continues his work in the midst of our world today.”
“We not only believe in certain truths, but we believe in a person, Jesus Christ,” Bishop Finn said.
“I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior and, dare I say it, my close friend,” he said. “That personal relationship is so important to us.”
Bishop Finn said that same close relationship to Jesus is open to all who believe.
“Even if we have been away, even if we have been unfaithful, the door is open welcoming us into relationship with Jesus Christ,” Bishop Finn said.
Those who believe and enter into that relationship will forever be changed, he said.
Bishop Finn told the story of a young priest he heard in Virginia delivering a homily on a twist of “the truth will make you free” in the Gospel of John.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you odd,” Bishop Finn quoted the young priest.
“We don’t measure ourselves as the world measures us. Our faith tells us that there are things that are so much more important,” Bishop Finn said.
“It doesn’t matter because the truth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, sets us free. That’s what gives us life,” he said.
“If I have come to understand the depth of faith and if I have come to experience the love of Jesus Christ, I have to bring that to others,” Bishop Finn said.
“The church must also bring the message of the Gospel to others,” he said. “We know our faith sends us out. We know that after the Year of Faith, we must continue. We have to live it ever more fully.”
Following the Mass, Bishop Finn climbed into a hydraulic lift provided by B&L Electric and operated by David Lam that took him 50 feet in the air to the hand-carved Italian marble statue of Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary that was the gift to the parish of an anonymous donor.
The statue was installed in a niche, high up in the church steeple, about six weeks after the new Holy Rosary parish church was dedicated in 2010.
From his perch high above the congregation that had gathered outside, Bishop Finn blessed the artwork with holy water, then turned and blessed the crowd.