Easter Joy Abounds, Assures Bishop Mark at Baccalaureate Mass

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By Tony DeGol
Proclaim!

If you are unable to find joy this Easter, Bishop Mark thinks you could be looking in all the wrong places.

With a pandemic impacting almost every aspect of our lives, many people concede it is challenging to truly immerse themselves in the glory of the Easter season, which ends in just a few days.

Despite our current trials, the risen Christ is very much present in our lives, the Bishop assured.

“I always remind people that the joy that you and I share as believers in Jesus doesn’t come from the things of this world, it comes from the power of the Resurrection,” he said. “So even the cross becomes a symbol of joy for us because we can say with gladness and thanksgiving that God has redeemed the world through such horrible suffering and death.  So it is truly a season of joy even if it is overshadowed by all the circumstances and challenges.”

The Bishop’s remarks came while he celebrated a private Mass for the Seventh Sunday of Easter – a Mass during which he recognized the Class of 2020 from the four Catholic high schools in the diocese.

He pointed to the graduates and their supportive parents and educators as further examples of Easter joy.

“My prayer today for all those who have just graduated or are graduating these days in the unusual way of virtual ceremonies and the like, you should always remember that nothing about your life with God is ever anything less than the real thing,” the Bishop mentioned. “You probably heard all kinds of words of advice and encouragement in graduation speeches, but do not forget what Saint Peter tells us in the Second Reading today. He says even if you experience any kind of suffering and challenge in this life, don’t ever be ashamed to tell others that you are a disciple – a follower – of the Lord Jesus.”

Bishop Mark offered heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2020 for their accomplishments and encouraged them to look to the future with anticipation.

“But don’t ever forget the real glory of your life comes from God alone, who knows the answers to every question, because He is the answer,” he continued. “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

During Mass, the Bishop also shared more encouraging news that highlights the Lord’s presence in our midst. 

Two young women, he announced, recently applied for entrance to a religious community serving in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“It’s huge news,” he stressed. “It’s good news.”

Three young men are also in the process of discerning a vocation to the diocesan priesthood and could be accepted to begin seminary studies in the fall, he added.

“All of that is going on during this pandemic, and so anybody who says, ‘Where’s the joy? Where’s the presence of God? Where’s the grace in all of this?,’ it’s there,” he assured.

“So parents, I encourage all of you to support your children in trying to choose the vocation that is right for them, the one that God has for them,” Bishop Mark pleaded. “Encourage them by your faithfulness, your good example, your prayers.”