GREEN BAY — The Diocese of Green Bay celebrated the closing of its 150th anniversary on Dec. 9 with a Jubilee Vespers at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. It was the last of 12 jubilee year celebrations held this year at the cathedral.
Bishop David Ricken welcomed men and women religious serving in the Diocese of Green Bay to the diocese’s mother church for the Advent vespers service. He was joined in the cathedral sanctuary by Norbertine Abbot Dane Radecki and Deacon Peter Gard.
Among the religious communities represented at the vespers were the Franciscans of the Assumption BVM Province; the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey; the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, A New Genesis and the Missionaries of the Word.
Michael Poradek, director of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Green Bay, coordinated the Jubilee 150 celebrations for the diocese.
“Over the past few months, we have highlighted numerous members, groups and ministries in our diocese, especially those we may not directly recognize often enough throughout the year,” he said. “We end the Jubilee Year with our religious communities, who make a tremendous impact day in and day out in prayer and outreach. They have served in a tremendous role in our diocese throughout the past 150 years and we look forward to their continued witness and ministry as we move to the next 150 years of faith and discipleship.”
According to Poradek, concluding the jubilee year with Advent vespers was fitting, since similar Advent evening prayer services have been held in recent years.
“It allowed us the great opportunity to end (the jubilee) with this celebration, as we begin our new liturgical year and recognize that, while the Jubilee Year of 2018 is over, we now look to the future of our local church in anticipation for where the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us, rooted in prayer and unity,” he said.
Bishop Ricken also gave the assembly a brief background on the monthly jubilee celebrations.
“They have been very joyful Masses and occasions of celebration,” he said, “especially in that we were able to reach out to people who are often not recognized, and to tell them how grateful we are and to thank God for their ministries, their presence in the diocese.”
“This is our 12th and last jubilee celebration today and it’s a joy to be with all of the religious and to pray vespers this evening in gratitude for your presence and your witness,” Bishop Ricken told the assembly. “Thank you so much to every one of you and we remember at this vespers all of those who have gone before you and have made such a vast contribution to the life and joy of the Gospel here in northeast Wisconsin.”
He said that one reason he enjoys solemn vespers on Sundays during Advent “is that they remind me of the most important elements of our Advent journey.”
“Silence is one of the features of this season, especially when winter is alive and brings a hushed stillness and silence that reminds us of the transitions and yearning for the birth of our savior,” he said.
In quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Bishop Ricken said, “If we do not understand the place of silence, we run the risk of bypassing the word of God itself.”
“So during these days before Christmas, we can spend some time in praise and worship in honor of God and in quiet simplicity, thanking him for our 150 years of the blessing of consecrated and religious life here in our diocese,” said Bishop Ricken. “We are his servants, and sometimes in silence, in the empty spaces between the notes of activity in our lives, that’s where we truly discover God walking with us.”
Following vespers, religious community members were invited to a reception in the Bishop Wycislo Center. Tours of the cathedral were also available for guests.
VIEW MORE PHOTOS: To view additional photos from the Jubilee Vespers, visit our Flickr photo album.