March 29, 2017
By Darcy Fargo
Norfolk - “Thermometers passively reflect what’s around them; thermostats actively affect what’s around them,” Bishop Terry LaValley told the crowd gathered for North Country Cursillo’s Day of Recollection held at Our Lady of Visitation Church, March 4.
“If our hearts are truly mission-oriented as Catholic Christians, if they are filled with knowledge of God and with His grace and mercy, then we will be like thermostats, making a real difference in the environment in which we live, whether at home, in the workplace or in community,” the bishop said.
Bishop LaValley, as well as a handful of lay and ordained speakers, encouraged the crowd of 75 from around the diocese to grow in piety, study and apostolic action.
The bishop urged attendees to be like the Samaritan woman from John's Gospel, who opened her heart to Jesus and then proclaimed her experience of Him to others.
“You and I are called to do no less,” he said. “First, we must do all we can every day to be aware of the fact that Jesus desires to encounter us like He did the woman. We must tend to that personal relationship, which is precisely what you are doing here today. We must live and share the truth of Jesus to a world that sometimes doesn’t seem particularly interested or even hostile to it.”
Sessions concluded with Adoration and Reconciliation, with five priests – including Bishop LaValley – offering participants the opportunity to confess their sins and receive God's mercy.
In the first session, Father Albert Hauser, pastor of the Catholic Community of Moriah, gave the witness talk, recounting his Cursillo, attended in the Fall of 2016, referring to it as an opportunity to renew his experience of the love of God.
Father Timothy Canaan, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church and Blessed John XXIII Newman Center in Plattsburgh, gave the first spiritual talk, encouraging attendees to cultivate relationships with the Lord through private fasting, almsgiving and prayer.
The second session featured a witness talk by Kathy Racette, a member of St. John's Parish in Plattsburgh who spoke on commitment – her mother's commitment to Catholic education for her and her siblings, her and her husband's commitment to each other and homeschooling their children, the commitment of a beloved priest, who helped their homeschooling community grow in faith, the commitment of the priests at St. John's in fostering faith and community, and her commitment to grow in love of God through prayer, and participation in Cursillo, faith sharing groups and service.
“Cursillo, over the past three years, has helped me to take risks and come out of my comfort zone,’ she said, and has helped me to remember that Christ is the center of my life.”
“Small group sharing with ladies from my parish has helped me to think about my relationship with God and others,” Mrs. Racette said, “and share God's love with them and learn what God is doing in their lives.”
“Luke's Gospel tells us of the presentation in the temple and how Christ grew in age, wisdom and grace before God and men,” Father Downs said. “We also grow in age, and we should grow in wisdom and grace.”
Father Downs said God reveals himself through creation, scripture, the teachings of the Church and Catholic social teachings, and should be studied through those means.
“If we soak a stone and a sponge in water, both will get wet,” he said. “While the stone will get wet on the outside, the sponge gets soaked on the inside, as well.
“The same happens to us when we study,” Father Downs said. “Study will not only soak us externally, but internally, as well. Like sponges, we are able to pour out the waters of our Catholic faith to soak all those surrounding us with the living waters of Jesus Christ.”
Brent Davison, a Cursillo leader from St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh, gave the final witness talk. He recounted how he experienced God at his Cursillo, which he attended following a conversion experience.
Davison said his conversion and Cursillo inspired him to action for the Lord.
“He asks us to live as a witness to Him and His gospel,” Davison said. “He has asked us to serve Him actively. Do you think the evil one is being passive? No, he is attacking our church, our families, and our souls actively and aggressively. Jesus wants us to stand up and be active for him. Be a disciple!”
The event concluded with Bishop LaValley celebrating Mass at St. Andrew's Church, Norwood, with Msgr. John Murphy and Father Andrew Amyot concelebrating. The Fourth Degree K of C provided an Honor Guard.