By Jennifer Mauro | Associate Editor
During the Mass of the Holy Spirit that he celebrated Jan. 31 in the Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel of Georgian Court University, Lakewood, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., shared a pointed message on how faith and conviction can make a difference in real life.
Reminding the gathering of some 150 students, faculty members and staff in attendance of how it is his mission as the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese to encourage faith in others, the Bishop emphasized how important it is to not only hear the Gospel message but to remember it as well.
Photo Gallery: Bishop visits GCU
“When we hear the Scripture readings at Mass, especially the Gospel, something should stick, something should touch us to the point where we remember the message, a message. After all, as Christians and Catholics, we believe it is the Word of God – and that is certainly something worth remembering,” the Bishop said as he went on to discuss the day's Gospel reading, Mark 5:21-43, in which Jesus heals a sick woman who simply reached out to touch his cloak as he was on his way to raise a young girl from the dead.
“…There is a ‘story within the story’ in Mark’s Gospel today that, hopefully, will stick – that will be the ‘takeaway’ from the passage, namely [that] faith in the Lord Jesus makes a difference in real life; it’s all that Jesus asks for prior to performing a miracle in the Gospels,” Bishop O’Connell said.
"Faith is the transforming miracle of the story," he added. "Approach [Jesus] with faith, and that faith, that belief, that conviction, that Jesus will make all the difference – guaranteed."
Bishop O’Connell was the principal celebrant of the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, a 20-plus year tradition typically held at the start of the second semester that recognizes Catholic faith in higher education. Concelebrants included Father Michael Wallack, episcopal secretary to the Bishop, and university chaplain Father Anthony DiPalma, who proclaimed the Gospel.
Toward the end of Mass, Bishop O’Connell prayed for all those at Georgian Court University and then spoke to the students directly.
"I invite you to be happy in your life, to seek and find peace in your life, which only comes when you seek and find God in your life,” he said. “Only you can make yourself happy. At the risk of breaking into Pharrell Williams' song, ‘Come on, get happy!’”
University president Dr. Joseph R. Marbach, who thanked the Bishop for taking time during Catholic Schools Week to visit the university, said that message of happiness was important for young adults in today’s society.
"It’s a whole new level of stress that today’s students face,” Dr. Marbach said referencing, among others, the current political climate. “That message that you find happiness in yourself is extra important, especially in a generation that looks a lot for external validation.”
Daniel Ginchereau was all smiles as he shook the Bishop’s hand after Mass. The Georgian Court University freshman was confirmed by Bishop O’Connell about five years ago.
“I think Bishop O’Connell is a natural. His time at Catholic University [of America] shows his ability to relate to students,” Ginchereau, a member of the Mercy Collegiate Society, said as he looked around to his peers, some in sports uniforms, others in collegiate sweaters. “It was great that we could all come together as a campus.”
Senior Karissa Santiago said one of the aspects she enjoyed was seeing non-Catholics go up for a blessing as Catholics received Holy Communion. “It was very inclusive, and that makes you feel welcomed.”
Ginchereau said it was that sense of unity that led him to Georgian Court University when he was considering what university to attend.
“Out of every single school I went to, GCU was the one school that hammered in the point of community, and I felt that if I was going to be away from my family, I wanted a community,” said Ginchereau, who grew up in St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton.
Of the Bishop’s homily, Ginchereau was inspired by that, too. “It was a reminder of how often Jesus talks about having faith and asking nothing in return.”