BRIDGEPORT– “We inherited their foundational work and we should remember the shoulders we stand on,” said Fr. Frank Hoffmann at the annual Mass for Deceased Clergy at St. Augustine Cathedral.
“Because of their faithfulness, those men who came before us in life and death themselves now share in the life of Christ that they preached to us,” said Fr. Hoffmann, Pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk and former Vicar for Clergy of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the Principal Celebrant of the Mass, which is observed on the first Sunday in November each year in memory of deceased bishops, priests and deacons in the Diocese. It is the bishop’s tradition to ask a priest from the diocese to deliver the homily.
In his homily Fr. Hoffman reflected on the reading from 1 Thessalonians, “We do not want you to be unaware brothers and sisters about those wo have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Fr. Hoffmann noted that as he gets closer to joining the ranks of senior priests, he finds himself thinking of the many priests and deacons who were part of his priestly life when he was a younger man. While many have since passed away, he said that although we mourn the loss of a loved one, “the spiritual relationship never ends. Death has no power for those who have been transformed in faith.”
He said that all clergy share a special bond by virtue of ordination. “Those ties of affection don’t end with death. Because of Jesus Christ, the bonds will never end and cant’ be broken. The bond of love is stronger than death,” he said.
Fr. Hoffmann said to all those in attendance that it’s very unlikely that in a hundred years anyone will have known them or even recognize their name, and that our faith goes beyond memory of the loved ones we have lost.
“We have Jesus Christ and His promise of life. Our faith rests on that promise of life forever in Him,” he said, noting that it is important to remember the dead in our prayers.
In the Universal Prayer, all those in attendance prayed, “Holy Father, we have been buried with your son in baptism to rise with Him in glory; may we always live in Christ and not see death forever.”
The prayer concluded with these words, “God of the living and the dead, you brought Jesus back to life; raise up the faithful departed, especially those of the presbyterate and the diaconate of the Diocese of Bridgeport, and let us come with them into your heavenly glory.
In brief remarks after Holy Communion, the bishop thanked Fr. Hoffmann for his heartfelt homily and thanked all priests and deacons in attendance to pray for their deceased brothers.
Liturgical music for the Mass was provided by cantor Karolina Wojteczko, Laura Intravia choir director and assisting organist and Dr. William Atwood diocesan director of Music Ministry.