Celebrating the monthly Young Adult Mass Aug. 4 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco shared a cherished childhood memory about coming to understand his love of God.
While visiting his grandparents’ house around the corner from his family’s home one afternoon, he was chatting with his grandmother when the doorbell rang. He dutifully answered the door and recognized the two women standing there as women who attended the church up the street.
One of the women asked him, “‘Child, do you love Jesus?’” he recalled, conceding, “I was kind of startled by the question.”
He replied to her, “Yes, M’am, I love Jesus.’”
The woman who had broached the question then placed her hand under his chin and directed the other woman to “look at his face; I knew that he loved Jesus.” The other woman replied in agreement, “Oh, yes...I see it in his face.”
After the exchange, “the two of them turned around, walked off the porch and seemingly out of my life,” Bishop Colacicco said.
“I don’t know their names. If I get to heaven, I’m going to look for them,” he said, “because they set me on a path at that young age” with that question which “enables me to stand in front of you today.”
Bishop Colacicco explained that in all the time he attended his religion classes and studied his catechism—“I knew Jesus; I knew who He was, I knew what He said, I knew what my Church taught—but in all those years, no one ever asked me if I loved Him.”
“Hearing that question,” he said, “hearing the answer to that question, set me on a path that I thank God for each and every day.”
The purpose and meaning “for each and every one of us walking this earth,” Bishop Colacicco continued, is “to know, love and serve Jesus.”
“And the saints, particularly today as we honor and remember St. John Vianney” on his feast day, “teach us that even in the midst of whenever we live on this earth it is possible to grow in holiness. They remind us, generation after generation, age to age, that the Gospel is true and the Gospel speaks to each and every age. And to know Jesus is to love Him. And to love Him is to share His heart so that we can be of service to each other.”
In his homily, Bishop Colacicco also quoted St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, about the patron saint of parish priests’ love of God.
“...I would rather die out of love for you than live for one single moment without loving you. I love you...And the only reason why I wish to go to heaven is because there I will be able to love you perfectly. I love you...And the only reason why I fear hell is because there I will never have the joy of loving you.”
What resonated from the bishop’s homily for Ross Gilliland, 24, of St. Rita of Cascia, the Bronx, is “a relationship with Christ is the only important thing,” he told CNY after the Mass.
Given the uncertainty this past year amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Gilliland added, “That truth is something I just have to keep myself grounded in if I want to thrive this year.”
Courtney Taylor, 27, also a member of St. Rita of Cascia parish in the Bronx, reflected on the “beautiful” Mass in an interview with CNY after the liturgy.
“The Young Adult Mass is a very special moment for young adults,” she said, “particuarly because we are all just striving to get closer to God.”
The gathering, Ms. Taylor added, “unites us” and serves as a reminder “that we’re not alone.”
The liturgy is sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult Outreach. Before the 7:30 p.m. Mass, Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is offered, as is the sacrament of reconciliation.