Day of Prayer featured Mass, Stations for atonement, healing

Students at Regis Academy joined in praying a Rosary in the parish Mary garden for healing of victims of abuse on April 26; other diocesan schools held similar prayer and memorial events during the Day of Prayer. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley

In 2016, Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. made five commitments to support the healing of abuse victims and to advance education and prevention efforts in making safer environments for our children. One of those commitments, the annual Day of Prayer held April 26, includes prayer at parishes and diocesan schools, Eucharistic Adoration at the Catholic Center, a special noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by the Bishop and, this year, special Stations of the Cross for atonement and healing to be used in parishes, schools and at home.

The scripture-based Stations are designed for a group, with four leadership roles: a cantor for a chanted verse at the beginning and end of each station, a reader for the pertinent scripture passage, an Abuse Victim’s Voice to read actual quotes from those who have suffered abuse and an ordained cleric to lead the Confessional Prayer of the Hierarchy, to which all respond with a station-specific prayer for reconciliation and healing.

“O God, your Son Jesus spoke the truth to those with power over him, but they could not accept it. We confess that in our pride we were deaf to the words of those we hurt.”—Confessional Prayer of the Hierarchy

“Lord Jesus Christ, innocent but accused, make us always eager to speak the truth, to hear the truth, to live by the truth. Help us to judge right from wrong, to defend those who suffer though they have not sinned, and to listen to those who summon the courage to speak. When we feel disappointment in your church, remind us of this truth: You are the Son of God.”—All respond

Fr. Paul Turner, pastor of the Cathedral and principal author of the ‘Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All’, gave the homily at the Day of Prayer Mass offered by Bishop Johnston at the Cathedral April 26.

In his homily, Turner spoke of atonement and its role in healing.

“If somebody we love and respect hurts us, it changes our view of them; it challenges our assumptions about the society that put them in their position; and it makes us question our own abilities to judge wisely. The consequences of abuse can be especially severe,” he said. “If after the injury we want to heal, the person who committed the offense has a sure way to assist the process. They can say, ‘I’m sorry’. The atonement of one is a path toward the healing of another.”

“Christianity has attracted some outstanding leaders, yet the misbehavior of some of them has surfaced in every generation of Church history. Even the gospels are not shy about admitting the disturbing actions of some of the men Jesus chose to spread his word. They quarreled among themselves, they misunderstood his teachings, they fled when he was arrested; Judas betrayed him, and Peter, warming himself at a charcoal fire, denied he even knew Jesus.”

He tied in the reading of Peter and the disciples going fishing and catching nothing, even after the resurrected Jesus had appeared to them in the upper room and sent them out to the world, saying ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you’.

“These are the very disciples Jesus said would become fishers of people. In this passage, they can’t even fish fish. Reading their futile attempt resonates with us who have watched church leaders in our generation walk away from their responsibilities to protect children in order to pursue more pleasant activities that ultimately bear no fruit. In this gospel, the disciples find no food until they do what Jesus commands,” Turner said.

At a charcoal fire on the shore, Jesus offers Peter and the disciples bread and fish, but also an opportunity for atonement and taking on again the role of tending Christ’s sheep.

“When you’re hungry, and there is no food; when you’re lost because someone crucified your messiah; when your leaders don’t lead where they should – you may be tempted to despair. But there is plenty of food; the crucified messiah lives again; and our leaders are finally listening to his voice. Now at the command of Christ when they lower their nets into the sea of humanity, they may catch the fish Christ has summoned, even those who once swam away.”

“Atonement and healing will take a long time, but it begins when people admit the mistakes of the past and place their hope in the risen Jesus – when we set aside more pleasant activities to obey what he commands,” Turner concluded.

Over 100 persons attended the bishop’s Mass, including a contingency of Borromeo Academy students, St. Michael the Archangel high schoolers from Lee’s Summit serving and St. Therese North school children who sang as a choir for Mass.

To view the ‘Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All’, visit kcsjcatholic.org/atonement-healing-stations, and to read more about ongoing efforts in healing and preventing abuse, visit the Office of Child and Youth Protection webpages on the diocesan website.

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Monday
May 20, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph