To all our parishioners and dear friends of our parish community…Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
This weekend in July brings many great celebrations for our parish community. July 25th is the Feast of St. James, Apostle. St. James is the brother of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. St. James was present at many of the important events in the life and ministry of Our Lord, and brought the faith all the way to what is now Spain, where his relics are honored each July 25th at the Shrine Basilica in Compostella.
St. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred and shed his blood for Christ and the spreading of the Gospel. St. James is my patron saint, so I am happy to share my name’s day with you.
July 26th is the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although their names do not appear in Scripture, they are greatly mentioned directly or indirectly in the Protoevangelium of St. James. The Portoevangelium gives the following accounts: that in Jerusalem there lived a rich and pious couple, Joachim and Anne, who were childless. Through many years they prayed and fasted for a child in the solitude of the desert, and Anne cried to the Lord to take away the curse of her sterility, promising to dedicate her child to the service of God.
Their prayers were heard; an angel came to Anne and said, “The Lord has looked upon thy tears; thou shalt conceive and give birth and the fruit of thy womb shall be blessed by all the world.” Anne gave birth to a daughter whom she named Mary.
Devotion to St. Anne began early in the life of the Church, prospered, and grew stronger throughout the centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches. The relics of St. Anne were brought particularly for veneration to France by St. Lazarus, the friend of Christ. Magnificent chapels and churches were constructed to her honor so the faithful could seek her powerful intercession in all their difficulties.
Devotion continued to North America, where St. Anne is the patroness of the Province of Quebec. In the 1960’s, Most Reverend Vincent J. Hines, D.D., second Bishop of Norwich, petitioned the Holy See to name St. Anne the Patroness of the Diocese of Norwich. Each July 26th is forever celebrated in our Diocese as the Feast of St. Anne, Patroness, along with March 17th, the Feast of St. Patrick, our Principal Patron Saint, Titular of our Cathedral in Norwich.
The Statue of St. Anne adorned in St. John Church comes from the former parish Convent and was restored and given a special place of honor when I became Pastor in 2006. May she bring us maternal love as the Heavenly Patroness of our Diocese.
Let us all extend our prayerful wishes and congratulations to Sr. Mary Ancillita Lengyel, RSM, former teacher and principal of St. John School, who celebrates her 75th Anniversary and Diamond Jubilee as a consecrated religious in the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. May the Lord God give Sr. Ancillita abundant blessings for these years of faithfulness to religious life and service of the Lord!
Blessings this Summertime!