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Assembly 2020: ​‘Christianity spreads through the joy of disciples’

November 18, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News


Assembly 2020: ‘Christianity spreads through the joy of disciples’

The Archdiocese of San Antonio said yes! On November 7, more than 2,000 participants of Assembly 2020 reaffirmed their commitment to foster a Catholic Culture of Discipleship.

As they went forth from an unprecedented “virtual” Assembly, their work as missionary disciples is just beginning.

Having heard inspiring Assembly speakers, the archdiocese invited participants to then take part at one or more post-Assemblyevents to delve into discussion and dialogue about the topics and issues surfaced by the speakers.

The mid-November online offerings included discussions on: “The Call to Discipleship in Education and Formation,” “God in Hardships: Relationships, Marriage and Family;” “Empowering Youth and Young Adults;” and “Radical Hospitality and a New Order in Ministry.”

Assembly presentations and a recap of the day can be found on the archdiocesan website at: www.archsa.org/assembly

The opening Mass was broadcast live on Catholic Television of San Antonio and streamed on the various archdiocesan social media outlets, as Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, presided at a liturgy before seminarians in Our Lady’s Chapel at Assumption Seminary.

He told attendees and viewers that, “As we come together in Assembly, we do so in some of the most unusual circumstances we have ever encountered. It is a time of pandemic. A time of election. A time of uncertainty. We face economic challenges, health challenges, racial and ethnic tensions, political tribalism, social distancing, wearing masks -- even shortages of toilet paper! Yet, in all of this ‘we have strength for everything through Him who empowers [us]!’”

The archbishop discussed his recently released pastoral letter, Transformed by Hope, Let Us Rebuild Our Tomorrow!” Hiscentral point is the exercise of the virtue of Christian hope as we face all of these challenges.

“First, we must reflect on what we have been experiencing so that we may hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us. The Second Vatican Council referred to this as seeing the signs of the time. This requires of us the need to quiet our anxious hearts and minds and to listen deeply,” Archbishop Gustavo explained. “As we listen we may encounter much pain, much fear, and the sense that we have lost many things. Among our losses include our normal way of life, some have lost loved ones to the pandemic, and some have lost income and jobs because of this situation.”

He added that must also be listening socially, that is, to see and hear what is happening in society. “So many live in isolation. There are those who take advantage of all this very cynically. Promoting a culture of life has become even more difficult. Political tribalism has made problems related to immigration and refugees all the more complicated,” the archbishop lamented.

The San Antonio prelate relayed that 20 percent of the population of Bexar County alone is food insecure. Just at the St. Stephen’s Catholic Charities site as many as 6800 families are coming for food each week. He acknowledged that children are struggling to be educated in these difficult times.

“And yet, in all this, we also see our Catholic communities coming together, utilizing social media to reach out, and people contributing to the needs of the poor and sustaining their parishes with heroic generosity!” Archbishop Gustavo exclaimed. “These too, are signs of the times!”

Pope Francis has sent a letter to the universal Church titled Fratelli Tutti, Italian for “We are all brothers.” What the Holy Father is asking us to do, the archbishop said, is to read the signs of the times and to recognize a common humanity. “It is not only the Church and people of this archdiocese who suffer, but also people throughout the world! Our sufferings are the same as the people who live in India or Africa!” the Missionary of the Holy Spirit stressed. “Our challenges are the challenges of moms and dads in Brazil or Vietnam! And so, the Holy Spirit is speaking not only to us, but to the whole world!”

He pointed out that, as we listen to the Holy Spirit and see the sufferings and challenges around us, we also see that the Spirit is offering to us an opportunity -- the opportunity to build an even better future renewed in grace and united as the human race. The archbishop continued, “Hope, as Christian virtue, is not wishful thinking. It is grounded in reality. This reality acknowledges and takes account of the sufferings and challenges before us, yet is confident in the grace of God to renew the face of the earth!”

And so, Archbishop Gustavo called on listeners to be sustained in hope. “Let us listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the signs of our time. Let us commit ourselves to building a better tomorrow in the grace of God! Let us trust that ‘we have the strength for everything through him who empowers [us]!’ he concluded. “May Our Lady of Guadalupe bring the Prince of Peace into our midst.”

Following the Mass, the archbishop served as host for the day, along with emcee Amy Ann Davila, director of Religious Education at St. Helena Church in San Antonio.

Assembly 2021 will be held on November 6 with the theme, “Call and Chosen: Embracing Our Vocation as God’s People.”