From staff reports
In the Great Upper Church at the noon hour, faithful took their places in the pews and a prayerful silence prevailed as Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., led the Angelus. The traditional devotion recalls when the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she was to become the mother of Christ.
It is in this prayer when Mary gives her “fiat,” her yes to follow God’s will, “be it done unto me according to your Word.”
In a welcome that preceded the recitation of the Angelus, Msgr. Vito Buonanno, director of pilgrimages for the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., spoke of the pilgrim’s road, explaining that though it affords “you many opportunities of faith,” it is also often fraught with unexpected twists and turns. Self-sacrifice, he said, may be involved before and after the destination is reached, in a manner that reflects faithful discipleship.
“Sacrifice, care of others and true charity is what a pilgrimage represents,” he said.
No matter how bumpy the road – such as buses breaking down en route – he exhorted the pilgrims to engage fully in the moment, whether in public witness or private prayer.
“Today is a special time for the Church of Trenton in that it affords you many graces to grow even deeper in service to the Gospel,” he said. “You will take those graces back to your families, to your parish, to your Diocese, to your community to bear witness to who we are – a people of faith committed to Christ.”
The day was also a pilgrimage of a different sort for Bishop O’Connell, who introduced Msgr. Buonanno.
“One of the best things about coming to the shrine in Washington is the opportunity it gives me to return to the place where I spent so many happy years,” said the Bishop, who served for 12 years as president of The Catholic University of America, which is located adjacent to the Basilica.
Msgr. Buonanno also discussed the Basilica’s renovated Trinity Dome, which will be dedicated Dec. 8. Speaking of the new mosaic that depicts the Holy Trinity, Immaculate Conception and a procession of saints, he said, “This truly brings to completion the understanding of what this church, what this shrine, what this Basilica is all about.”
“As beautiful as this is,” he said, pointing up at the dome, “you and I are the living stones that make this church.”
As proof, the Diocese’s shepherd then took to the altar to lead his flock in the Angelus. He was assisted by Benita Gonzalez of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, who recited the Angelus in Spanish, and Mary Walton of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, who recited it in English.