Bishop celebrates Mass of Atonement at St. Mary’s in Marfa

MARFA – Much needed healing and blessings came upon Marfa this past March 14, as Bishop Mark Seitz chose our town as the site for the offering of a Mass of Healing from the Catholic Church ministering throughout the West Texas region, with the sole purpose of beginning a palpable response of restoration to the crisis of abuse and betrayal in the Catholic Church.

The gathering was graciously organized and hosted by me, the Vicar of St. Mary’s, along with the dedicated parishioners of St. Mary’s who faithfully worked with charity and invaluably gave all their effort in coming together to offer a cordial welcome to Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Priests ministering in the West Texas parishes (Pecos, Van Horn, Alpine, Kermit, Presidio, Monahans), and both local and guest parishioners.

The Catholic gathering highlighted various moments. Starting with an entering procession and the congregation signing themselves with ashes symbolizing: the repentance of all that gathered; the shame the abused have been forced to carry for too long; and the Church’s unity in sorrow and in faith. Followed by the celebration of Mass presided by Bishop Mark Seitz whom – together with all priests in attendance – offered prayers for victims of abuse. The Bishop gave a solemn blessing to the congregation, who later in a candlelight procession, advanced to St. Mary’s Grotto where a rose bush was planted as a sign of healing and rebirth for us all.

The solemn gathering continued with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Fr. John Paul Madanu. The sacrament of reconciliation was also offered to all. Then Bishop Seitz blessed St. Mary’s Hall, and later, a wonderful dinner was served and shared by the entire congregation.

This gathering would not have taken place without the guidance and leadership of Bishop Mark Seitz, the unselfish and dedicated ministry of our Priests from the West Texas region, and the generous and unwavering commitment of our parishioners. To them all, I offer my sincere gratitude.

Also, I wish to reiterate the most important reason for this gathering was: so that the Catholic Church tangibly and sorrowfully face those abused and their families – both present and those not in attendance; to apologize and express our commitment to journey with them through the pain, the anger, and the healing process; and to let those who have been abused know that we truly care for their wellbeing and healing, and that we will continue to pray for restoration and newness of life in us all lived in God’s love.