In celebration of the Diocese of St. Augustine’s 150th anniversary, Bishop Felipe Estévez celebrated a special Mass for the Hispanic community Feb. 27, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.
The Mass began with a procession of Marian banners representing the various Marian devotions of Latin America and the Caribbean. And youth groups also processed in holding a white cross they made, each part of which represents a different aspect of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Alongside the cross, two more young people processed with Cross & Crozier and The Cornerstone, two books that detail the history of the diocese.
Father John Gillespie, the pastor of San Sebastian Parish, gave the homily. He began with a tribute to the late Father John Phillips, who, before his unexpected passing last year, was heading up the planning efforts for the 150th anniversary.
Father Gillespie compared the challenges that Bishop Augustin Verot, the first bishop of this diocese, and his fellow priests faced 150 years ago to the challenges they face today.
“We need to realize this is a moment of grace,” he said. “Look at the courage they had then – we should have the courage for today’s issues.”
He concluded his homily with a quote from Jewish author and Rabbi, Chaim Potok in his book, The Gift of Asher Lev: “Man sees only between the blinks of his eyes. He does not know what the world is like during the blinks. He sees the world in pieces, in fragments.”
God sees the world between blinks, said Father Gillespie. We see only part of it, but God sees the world for what it truly is – good.
The Diocese of St. Augustine has a rich Hispanic history, especially with the Martyrs of La Florida, who died for their faith in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
“When Pope Pius IX founded the Diocese of St. Augustine on March 11, 1870, Bishop Verot could look back to a glorious evangelization outreach done by missionaries from Spain, Cuba and Mexico,” said Bishop Estévez. “Among the many martyrs of La Florida, many Hispanics gave their lives witnessing their Catholic faith.”
To learn more about the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of St. Augustine, visit 150years.dosafl.com.