Diocese’s bicentennial celebration begins in Norfolk

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the seventh oldest diocese in the United States, began its bicentennial celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 with Mass at Sacred Heart Parish, Norfolk. More than 600 people from the Eastern Vicariate participated in the celebration.

Concelebrated by Bishop Barry C. Knestout and 42 priests, the Mass commemorated the arrival of Bishop Patrick Kelly, the first bishop of the diocese, in Virginia.

In his homily, Bishop Knestout focused on the jubilee theme “Shine like stars in the world as you hold fast to the word of life” from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2:15-16).

Noting that the prophets of the Old Testament were like stars who guided people toward God and pointed them to his son — “the greater light to come,” the bishop continued, “So, it was with the Catholic faith in this diocese, beginning small with a few shining stars, and soon gathering into greater constellations of communities, bringing the light of our Catholic faith to the Commonwealth and the people we encountered.”

The bishop said the “manifestation of faith” was accompanied by awe, wonder and acts of charity.

“Given the smallness of the Catholic community in Virginia, how few Catholics there were and still are in comparison to the rest of the population,” he said. “I have seen how ‘holding fast to the word’ results in a devotion and generous engagement of the faithful in parish life, where works of charity and justice grow and thrive.”

The diversity of the Eastern Vicariate was expressed in the proclamation of Scripture readings in English, Spanish and Tagalog and in music provided by choirs from the Norfolk parishes of Sacred Heart and the Basilica of St. Mary, and from St. Gregory the Great, Virginia Beach.

The celebration concluded with the singing of the diocese’s bicentennial hymn, “We Shine Like Stars in the World.”

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