March 31, 2024

Dear parish family and friends in Christ,

“Christ is Risen! Alleluia!” The Easter message of joy echoes through the whole world proclaiming Our Lord’s ultimate victory of light over darkness, grace over sin, and life over death. It is the message upon which our faith rests and to which we anchor our own hope of victory with him.

There is something quite unique about the Easter liturgies, namely, the reality of movement—the joyful movement of going forth—that shows the Church at her best: when she goes forth! We see this in the Gospel for Easter Sunday with Peter and John running towards the empty tomb, after Mary Magdalene had run to them with the news that the Lord’s body was no longer there! We read again, in the same Gospel, that Mary Magdalene encounters the Risen Lord outside the tomb after Peter and John had hurried off and she, in turn, runs to tell the other disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” Mary Magdalene was not only the first disciple to see the Risen Lord; she was also a missionary disciple—a running disciple—who could not contain within herself the Good News.  She portrays, in a real way, the missionary image of the Church that goes forth with a joyful message to share!

One of the most hopeful and meaningful rituals of our faith occurs during the Easter Vigil Mass when the new Paschal Candle is brought into the darkened church. The simple light is held high and shines brightly in the darkness as a reminder that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. As people in the assembly light their small candles from the Easter Candle, one by one, the whole church becomes radiant with light, and a visible sign of hope begins radiating from each person holding his or her lighted candles. The movement of the Paschal Candle up the aisle amidst the exultant proclamations “Christ our Light” echoing through the gradually brightened church is a uniquely powerful visual experience of hope.   

In these challenging times, marked by global unrest and division, the message of Easter becomes even more pertinent. We are beckoned to be beacons of hope, to carry the light of Christ into the world’s darkness. The ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world, societal divisions at all levels in our own nation, and threats of violence everywhere underscore the urgency of our mission to share the Gospel’s hope. Our task, as Christians, to go forth and to proclaim Christ, the reasons for our hope symbolized by that light at the Easter Vigil—becomes even more imperative in this holy season.

St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless, and our faith too is in vain” (Cf. 1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection is thus the foundation and cornerstone of our faith. On Easter we are called to live as people deeply touched by the Lord’s Resurrection, those who cannot contain the Good News within themselves, and those who must run out to proclaim it.  Like Mary Magdalene, Peter, John and all the disciples of Christ, may our encounter with the Risen Lord on our journey of faith touch us deeply and transform us into eager witnesses as well. May we become what St. Augustine referred to as an “Easter People”, a people changed into “running disciples”.

I extend heartfelt thanks to our priests, deacons, staff, volunteers, and all parish members for your dedication and spirit of service throughout Lent and the Holy Week. Your “going forth” has certainly borne much fruit in the spiritual renewal of countless people who came through our doors.  I also want to welcome and congratulate all the newly baptized and confirmed members of our parish. I pray that your zeal and enthusiastic commitment to faith will inspire us to be “running disciples” as well.

May the joy of the Resurrection fill your hearts and homes this Easter and always.

With warmest Easter wishes,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham