To be chosen by the Bishop as a host parish is a prestigious honor any church would love to have bestowed upon it.
That was the good fortune Sacred Heart Parish in Palmerton experienced when it recently hosted the Carbon County Deanery Holy Hour.
Conducted earlier this month by Bishop John O. Barres, Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, the event was the fist diocesan Holy Hour for the priests of the Allentown Diocese with Bishop Barres.
Father William Campion, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, said the church was honored to host the event. Campion noted that each of the five deaneries will have special Holy Hour with the Bishop throughout the year.
This first gathering was held for all priests of the Carbon County Deanery. Bishop Barres was the celebrant and was assisted by Monsignor Gerald Gobitas, who was Master of Ceremonies for the event, Campion said.
Campion said the Holy Hour began with solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours evening prayer, including a homily by the Bishop.
A period of quite meditation followed and solemn Benediction concluded the evening service, Campion said.
In his remarks to his priests, the Bishop used the "Our Father" of St. Matthew's gospel to reflect on the need for all priests to root themselves in prayer and to lead their parishioners to a deepening of their spiritual lives by encouraging frequent and devout prayer among their local churches, Campion said.
The Bishop then reflected on the importance of "Catechesis", which is the education in the faith of children, adolescents and adults, he said. The Bishop referred to the importance of faithfully proclaiming the scripture, and helping the people understand the doctrinal teachings of the church so they can seek to be nurtured by the sacraments and be living witnesses of the faith that Jesus has entrusted to the church, Campion said.
The Bishop referenced Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body", and the teachings of the recently beatified John Henry Neuman as good resources for the priests to consult in their catchesis on marriage and the family, Campion said.
He said the Bishop concluded his homily by expressing his gratitude to the priests of Carbon County for their dedicated priestly service and the important work they are doing for the good of the church.
Following the Holy Hour, the parish of Sacred Heart hosted an evening supper for the Bishop and gathered clergy, Campion said.
"The parishioners felt honored by their Bishop's fourth visit to their parish since his installation just over a year ago, and also wanted to express their heartfelt gratitude to Bishop Barres and his priests for shepherding the flock of the Diocese of Allentown," Campion said.