St. Benedict Cathedral, Evansville
“Come Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love…”
We had reached the end of our journey. As I pushed open the doors of the Cathedral, I could see the final preparations being made for the Mass. Some of our family and friends had already arrived, eventually numbering 79 with many little faces peering all around the majestic interior. The morning had been spent in prep for this joyous event. Seven of us had arrived into church from the reception hall next door, followed shortly by Amy and our youngest, Samuel. Even my grandma and grandpa Schroeder had made the trip. My grandfather had slowed to a feeble shuffle these days; but as he walked through the side door, I couldn’t help but feel that it was complete.
Like so many of our visits before, I found myself at the back of church for much of the Mass. With Bishop Charles C. Thompson, now Archbishop of Indianapolis, presiding in his home on the birthday of the Church, the Spirit was very much alive. Zach and Emma had spent half of their lives in this trek across the diocese; and for the youngest three, they had never known life without these monthly trips. The tour was ending with me and Samuel in the back of the Cathedral; it began with me and Noah in the back of the Basilica.
By the time Mass ended, we were called to the front near the baptismal font for the blessing from Bishop Thompson. As part of the blessing, I was asked to read a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him, you also are being built together into the dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).
Here we were — this ever-changing, ever-growing Body of Christ, being built into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. On Pentecost Sunday, we had come to the sacred temple — the sacred seat — of our diocese to celebrate new life in baptism for our son, Samuel Augustine, and new life in the Church. In the newness of this day, in the Spirit of our lives, we had travelled roughly 4,600 miles only to be reborn in the promises we would profess in remembrance of our own baptism.
Bishop Thompson reflected on the event with three ideas. He noted that, just as his bishopric throne had focused on Christ as the cornerstone, so He would be the capstone for our lives. Second, he recalled that, during the year of Mercy, Pope Francis had said that before people pilgrimaged to faraway sites, they should pilgrimage in their own diocese. So we had done. And finally, as he looked around at all the children in attendance, he made it clear that it came down to the message of the family.
Over five and a half years ago, our family and friends had opened the doors to an unknown adventure; a sacred search to see our diocese as it was and as it is. On certain occasions, we were lucky to get everyone out of bed and in the car for a sunrise drive to a remote destination. It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t always joyful. But together — one visit at a time — our family had travelled together and prayed together. As we left the Cathedral grounds that day, I really didn’t know what our kids would remember; although I hoped their faith had prospered along the way. Still, I knew we had come; and I believed He had, too.
“…send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”
This reflection is from Jim Schroeder’s book “The Evansville Diocese Historical Tour: Footprints of Our Catholic Brethren.” Jim, his wife, Amy, and their kids live in Evansville. They are parishioners at Holy Redeemer Parish. Jim is a pediatric psychologist and Vice President of the psychology department at Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. The full story, including illustrations, is available on Amazon or with his other books and articles at www.james-schroeder.com. A final reflection from Jim will appear in the September 15 issue of The Message.