By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
The Catholic Diocese of Evansville gathered recently to invoke our blessed mother’s name in a special way, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel said, as he consecrated the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Sept. 12.
On Sept. 12, Bishop Siegel celebrated Mass, followed by the Consecration, at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. Six priests of the diocese concelebrated with the bishop. On the Church’s liturgical calendar, Sept. 12 is the memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary.
The Mass was open to everyone, but seating in the cathedral was limited by social-distancing guidelines related to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The Mass and Consecration was live-streamed on the St. Benedict Cathedral Facebook page.
Bishop Siegel also asked priests in the diocese to consecrate their parishes to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that same weekend, and he invited the faithful to consecrate their families and themselves.
The consecration was part of the Diocese of Evansville’s 75th Anniversary celebration.
For 75 years, Bishop Siegel said, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been our special advocate, intercessor and inspiration throughout all the joys and sorrows that the people in the 12 counties of the Diocese of Evansville have experienced. The Blessed Virgin, under her title, Mary Mother of God, was declared our patroness when the diocese was founded in 1944.
Originally, the bishop said in his homily, the consecration was intended simply to renew our patronage to Mary, our Lady. Today, as we face the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest in our nation, he said it seems even more urgent to turn to our Lady for her prayers and protection.
In his homily, Bishop Siegel asked God that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession bring the diocese protection from danger and free us from sin. Through Marian Consecration, Bishop Siegel said we give and entrust ourselves to Mary, to be formed into the image of her son, Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the conclusion of Mass, Bishop Siegel stepped in front of the statue of Mary, to the left of St. Benedict Cathedral’s altar. During the Litany of Loreto, the bishop censed the statue of Mary at the front of St. Benedict Cathedral.
As Bishop Siegel recited the Prayer of Consecration, he knelt in front of Mary.
Through Consecration to Mary, the bishop said the faithful deepened our love of Christ, our brother, and our love for our family in Christ, the mystical body of Christ, the church.
Bishop Siegel said it is his hope and prayer the consecration will open hearts more profoundly to Mary’s powerful intercession, so that she may lead the faithful ever deeper into the love of her Son, Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Diocesan Director of Vocations Father Tyler Tenbarge created a section on the diocesan website to help the faithful prepare for the Consecration (http://www.evdio.org/consecration.html).
He reported that 59 different people from 21 parishes submitted 35 videos to the "Evansville Vocations" YouTube channel with a total of 13,000 video views during the 33 Day Consecration Preparation – about 250 average daily views.To watch or rewatch the Mass and Consecration, visit the St. Benedict Cathedral Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/saintbenedictcathedral.