Sat, Feb 2nd 2019 02:00 pm
Framed by a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., guest homilist Reverend James Loiacono, OMI, spoke at a service honoring Dr. King at Blessed Trinity Church. about the legacy of faith and love that Dr. King spoke of. Loiacono, was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Buffalo int he 1960's, about the legacy of faith and love that Dr. King preached in the 1950's and 60's.
(Dan Cappellazzo/Staff photographer)
Living in the spirit of God was the key message at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mass celebrated at Blessed Trinity Church in Buffalo on Sunday, Jan, 20.
Father Victor Ibhawa, pastor, expressed a warm welcome to all the parishes in Central City Vicariate, thanked concelebrants Father James Loiacono, OMI, from Holy Cross, Buffalo, who served as homilist; Father Daniel Ogbeifun from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Harris Hill; Father Peter Ekanem from St. Martin de Porres, Buffalo; and Deacon Miguel Santos, also from Holy Cross. Father Ibhawa most importantly expressed appreciation to the people of God for traveling through a winter snow storm with wind chills below zero to attend.
Once Mass started, you could sense the increased warmth, inspiration, welcoming embrace of community, and movement of the Holy Spirit in song, psalm, liturgy and ministry.
The homily was candid and had a realistic, timely, authentic delivery. Father Loiacono said, "Dr. King not only spoke for his people but for all people who were struggling under discrimination and exploitation." He also mentioned that "Dr. King inspired one of the most righteous movements in that era" and "to really be people of the Kingdom of God, and to really understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, look at Dr. King's life. He did it in the flesh by what he said and by what he did, up to the moment he gave the full measure of what he was, and what he stood for; up until he was assassinated in April 1968."
Again the homilist reiterated, "It was not only for his people but for all people in the United States of America. ... We should listen, see, and imitate if we are truly children of God." Father Loiacono reminded everyone that we should be focused on God and His kingdom and not the values of this world. Furthermore, he clarified how Dr. King lived in the Spirit of God, His grace, and being keenly focused on the kingdom of God.
Father Loiacono mentioned social justice teaching is not to reach out to just one group of people, or one ideology. He mentioned, as stated by St. John Paul II, "The interest of the church is in the interest of every human being across the planet." In addition, Pope Francis tells us "to smell like your sheep and be interested in their concerns and needs." Father Loiacono clearly communicated that to be concerned of the needs of the people, dignity, worth, justice and the voiceless, the Church must be there."
Moreover, social justice comes from our Gospels and evident throughout the Sacred Scriptures by telling us how to treat the worker, new comer, poor, migrant and neighbors overall.
Social concerns and social justices are the basis of Catholic Social Teaching. Father Loiacono also states "social justice is the very fabric of what it means to be a Christian." Spirit of God, love, the dignity of all people and justice was the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. until his death.
After the special Eucharistic Celebration, the program concluded with awards to scholarship recipients and a reception. Thirty-three years ago, the Central City Vicariate established the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship committee. In 1985, the Albert Lenhard, St. Matthew's, St. Martin de Porres Scholarship Fund Award was established. Arsema Tedros and Osaigbokan Paul Aihie were awarded these scholarships, respectively.
Milagros Ramos, director of the Office of Cultural Diversity, the Diocesan African-American Commission, St. Martin de Porres Choir, SS. Columba-Brigid Choir and Blessed Trinity Choir presented a celebration to remember. The diversity of the attendees, award recipients and their families, displayed the commitment, love and support necessary for continued success in living in the Spirit of God.
Before departing Father Ibhawa was asked his view on the importance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in today's chaos and culture? He replied, "Looking at the theme of today's celebration displayed living in the Spirit. What is that Spirit? The Spirit of God's love that inspired Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to fight for equality, to fight against discrimination, to fight against AIDS, and to fight for justice and peace. After celebrating today, we are called to live in that Spirit, so we can be united. We can be one. Where there is unity there is good. I think Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was really inspired by the words of Jesus from John 15:13-14 which states: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.' And, he did that in his struggle for life, peace and justice. Seeing everyone come from different parts of the world today, to celebrate a great day of joy, was inspiring, and I am thankful for all he did. For all of us, he left a good example."