Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

06 September 2018

An Annual Labor of Love

It is hard for me to imagine that the former Saint Kieran Parish in Heckscherville actually had two auxiliary chapels in nearby patches: one in Buck Run and the other in Greenbury. The latter, dedicated to Saint John (the Baptist? the Evangelist/Teacher/Divine?), collapsed some years ago, leaving miraculously untouched a lovely grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The territories of New Castle Township and the patch of Greenbury came together in the name "Castle Green Grotto." At this lovely edifice, locals still convene to pray the Rosary and otherwise enjoy a lovely slice of Paradise.

For about a decade, several dedicated folks have organized an annual Mass on Labor Day. About 100 citizens attend, many of them former St. Kieran parishioners. The local Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies' AOH form an honor guard. Several area clergy have been the celebrants of the Mass over the years. As the local pastor, it has been my honor to join them. This year I was privileged to preach the occasion. Storied reporter John E. Usalis of the Pottsville Republican-Herald aptly summarized my words, which, lacking a written text, I certainly could not have done:

"We’re grateful to God and so the greatest act of gratitude to almighty God that we can offer is this sacrifice of the Mass. We do it specifically on Labor Day mindful of how God has labored on our behalf and how we labor for God. [...]

"So this day is dedicated to the honor of working. And not just the burden of it, but the honor and privilege of expending ourselves for the glory of God and for the betterment of man,” Zelonis said. “What a day to be able to do that with the liturgy, which is Greek and means ‘our work for God’ or ‘God’s work for us.’ It actually can be translated either way. The sacred liturgy is God’s work on our behalf, which I would say primarily because God is always the first agent, but then it is our work for God, our return to him as we hear in the Psalms. "What can I do for the Lord for all that he has done for me. I will take up the cup of salvation" (Ps 116:12-13). The bread of life and the cup of salvation will be offered, the bread and wine will become the body and blood of Christ, and we join to the bread and wine our prayers, our works, our joys and our sufferings.

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