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St. Anthony of Padua Church sets dates for ‘Via Crucis’

January 30th, 2018 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: ,

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St. Anthony of Padua Church invites people to participate in its 2018 presentation of the Via Crucis, a live re-enactment of the last days of Christ by area schoolchildren.

The one-hour performance, blending traditional music, pantomime, and the words of the Gospel is staged at 7:30 pm at St. Anthony’s Church, 905 North DuPont Street in Wilmington. Performances are Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, Friday, Feb. 23, Friday, March 2, Friday, March 9, Friday, March 16, Friday, March 23 and ending on Good Friday, March 30.
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City deanery to host Penance Service

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The City Deanery will hold a Penance Service on Sunday, March 13, at 3 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 9th and Dupont Streets, Wilmington.

Additional priests will be on hand to hear individual confessions.

All are welcome.

For more information, (302) 421-3700.

 

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Biden recalled as devoted husband, father, patriotic public servant during funeral at St. Anthony’s

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The Dialog

WILMINGTON, Del. — Jesuit Father Leo J. O’Donovan recalled former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden as a devoted husband and father, splendid son, true brother and patriotic public servant at a June 6 funeral Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington.

Father O’Donovan, retired president of Georgetown University, was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass. Other Catholic Church leaders in attendance included Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly; Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States; and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.

The casket with the body of Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is carried into St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., for his June 6 funeral Mass. Beau Biden, 46, died May 30 after a battle with brain cancer. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, pool via Reuters)

The casket with the body of Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is carried into St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., for his June 6 funeral Mass. Beau Biden, 46, died May 30 after a battle with brain cancer. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, pool via Reuters)

In his homily, Father O’Donovan spoke to the family and friends of the Biden family in the packed church of more than 1,000 people, as well as to the national audience watching the final rites for Vice President Joe Biden’s oldest son.

“As surely as Beau Biden knelt at night to pray with his wife and children,” Father O’Donovan said, he knew he “was given life and a world to fulfill it in by a loving Lord.”

After the gift of what Father O’Donovan called Beau Biden’s “dazzling” life, his death “calls us to hear the promise” of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though the person dies, yet shall that person live.”

In heartbreaking eulogies before the end of Mass, Beau Biden was recalled by his sister, Ashley, and his brother, Hunter.

President Barack Obama also spoke at St. Anthony’s in tribute to his vice president’s son.

He called Beau Biden a consummate public servant who “did in 46 years what most of us couldn’t do in 146. He left nothing in the tank. He was a man who led a life where the means were as important as the ends. And the example he set made you want to be a better dad, or a better son, or a better brother or sister, better at your job, the better soldier. He made you want to be a better person.

“Isn’t that finally the measure of a man,” Obama asked, “the way he lives, how he treats others, no matter what life may throw at him?”

Representatives of other faith groups at the June 6 funeral included: Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Episcopal Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware; Rabbi Michael Beals, Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington; the Rev. Silvester Beaman, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington; and the Rev. Gregory Jones, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington.

The funeral came after two days of public mourning in the state.

On June 4, mourners filed past Beau Biden’s casket in Legislative Hall in Dover. On June 5, thousands in Wilmington stood in line at St. Anthony for hours to pay their respects to Biden’s widow, Hallie, and the members of the Biden family, who received people in church for 10 hours.

Beau Biden died May 30 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, of brain cancer. He was 46.

In a statement posted on the Bidens’ website, the family said: “It is with broken hearts that (we) announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life.”

“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us — especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.”

“I pray that Our Lord will give (the Bidens) strength during this time of sadness and that they find consolation and hope in the knowledge that Beau is in the presence of a merciful God,” Bishop Malooly said in a June 1 statement. “Beau Biden was an outstanding husband and father and a hard-working public servant who left his mark on Delaware and our nation. … He was truly a real gentleman in every way possible. May the Lord now provide him eternal life.”

Biden was a parishioner of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville.

Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III was born Feb. 3, 1969, in Wilmington to Joe Biden and Neilia Hunter Biden. In 1972, his mother and infant sister, Naomi, were killed in a car accident, and he and his brother, Hunter, were seriously injured.

While he was a U.S. senator, Joe Biden would commute from Wilmington to Washington and back by train each day so he could serve in Congress and be home as much as he could to spend time with his children. Joe Biden married Jill, an educator, in 1977.

In May 2010, Beau Biden suffered a mild stroke. In August 2013, he was admitted to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and diagnosed with brain cancer. A lesion was removed at that time; Biden had radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and the cancer was in remission.

On May 20 of this year, he was admitted to Walter Reed when doctors found his brain cancer had returned; he died there 10 days later.

A graduate of Archmere Academy in Claymont, the University of Pennsylvania and Syracuse University College of Law, he worked at the U.S. Justice Department in Philadelphia from 1995 to 2004. He was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office when in 2004 he became a partner in a Wilmington law firm. He worked there for two years before being elected Delaware attorney general.

He won on a campaign that outlined his plans to deal with sex offenders, Internet predators, senior abuse and domestic abuse.

Biden had joined the military in 2003 as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and was a major in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps. His unit was activated to deploy to Iraq in October 2008, and he spent a year on active duty there. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

The family said that more than his professional accomplishments, “Beau measured himself as a husband, father, son and brother. His absolute honor made him a role model for our family. … Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”

Contributing to this story was Catholic News Service in Washington.

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Homily at Beau Biden funeral: A life of love, commitment, friendship

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The following is the prepared text of Jesuit Father Leo J. O’Donovan’s homily at the June 6 funeral Mass of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington. Father O’Donovan, president emeritus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., was the main celebrant.

Dear friends: The reaction has been universal, whether you were a friend of Beau Biden’s or knew him only from the press. “How sad.” “How very, very sad.” “It’s heartbreaking.” “When I heard the news I wept.”

This great young man, this splendid son, this devoted, deeply loving husband and father, as true a brother as anyone could ever have, this peerlessly patriotic public servant — gone. Gone. Gone. It was, is, like the night of Good Friday. The one we hoped in, counted on, thought our future, has been taken from us.

The casket with the body of Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is carried into St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., for his June 6 funeral Mass. Beau Biden, 46, died May 30 after a battle with brain cancer. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, pool via Reuters)

The casket with the body of Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is carried into St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., for his June 6 funeral Mass. Beau Biden, 46, died May 30 after a battle with brain cancer. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, pool via Reuters)

How do you say goodbye to “the finest man any of us have ever known”?

First, I think, we face the loss. The fact that we have lost the handsome, winning, humble presence of an incomparable gift. The richness of that gift is the measure of our grief. The nobler a man is the more he is praised and even revered. But the truly noble man, the “righteous man” of the Book of Wisdom, knows that the one to be praised and indeed worshiped is not himself but his Creator, the ground and goal of his life. For all his sense of responsibility and commitment, he knows that he did not invent himself but was given life and a world to fulfill it in by a loving Lord. Only at the end of that life can he or his Lord or indeed any of us make a full accounting of its achievement.

Whether young or old at our dying, it is only then that we can say of the life we have been given, and of all those we have loved within the gift: Take it now, Lord; it was your gift, all my family and friends and public service were your gift as well. Take them now, enfold them in your mercy, lead us home. You alone know fully the grace that accompanied your gift.

As surely as Beau Biden knelt at night to pray with his wife and children, he knew this truth, whether in these words or some like them. For he knew the words of Jesus on the cross — “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” — that are offered to all of us to share on the Good Fridays of our lives.

Whether in prolonged suffering, like Beau’s, or in the gradual diminishments of age, our mortal lives are gifts that must pass through the darkness of death if they are to know the splendor of eternity. In this sense, “death is not extinguishing the light,” as the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote; “it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” Or in the words of Paul: our hope is that even “if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands” (2 Cor 5.1).

Beau’s life of giving, to his fellow citizens and above all to his family, was dazzling. As a young lawyer working for the Justice Department in Philadelphia and also in war-torn Kosovo, as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and a major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, as Attorney General of Delaware forgoing a run for the United States Senate because he felt it his duty to continue his mission to protect children from abuse — the watchwords were honor, courage, integrity.

My own favorite picture shows him standing before his father at an American base near Baghdad on July 4, 2009, mid-way through his deployment to Iraq. The two men known for the warmth of their smiles are close to grim. A sense of danger and possibly worse hangs over the crew-cut son in fatigues looking into the eyes of the earnest father. There is no limit to what the protection of life may entail.

Nor was there for Jesus. If all of life is ultimately gift, how was he the gift that would redeem and fulfill the gift of our creation? How did God give us this Son to reveal God’s vision of the world and lead it to God? I would prefer not to say that God gave us the Son to die for us. (What father could imaginably envisage that?) Rather, God gave us the Son, God’s own Word in our flesh, to live with and for us. God gave us Jesus to preach the Kingdom among us, a reign of reciprocity, forgiveness, healing and fulfillment.

If that mission led to violent rejection by authorities, civil and religious, that it threatened, then so be it. Jesus would not turn back. He remained true to his word in the very deepest sense, even to the cross, which made it possible for God once and forever to reveal the power of his forgiving love over even the cruelest death.

Death is always cruel. We feel that today, moving from Good Friday into Holy Saturday, when all is silence, feelings are muted, grief and mourning overtake everything. Beau is gone.

But from our immediate vision only. For we live now not only after Good Friday and through Holy Saturday, but in Easter.

And here is Beau’s great final gift to us. Promising as he most assuredly was, his death calls us to hear again the promise, the promise that the gift of life entails. It is the promise first given to the Jewish people that their God would never fail them but would be faithful to them forever. It is the promise spoken by Jesus to Martha of Bethany, after the death of her brother Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though the person dies, yet shall that person live.”

In Jesus Christ, writes St. Paul, “it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1.19-20) .

In a few moments, in our Eucharistic Prayer, we will recall this mystery of our redemption, the fulfillment of the promise that attended creation from its beginning and courses through it still in the Holy Spirit. And for us, in a special way, it becomes the promise of union with Beau in the Communion of Saints — now, and one day forever. We pray to be united now, and one day forever, with a remarkable man for whom belief was not simply a view of life but engaged love, not merely confession but commitment, not only a generous life but a discipline of justice meant ultimately for friendship.

For many of its saints, the Catholic Church celebrates their feast on the day of the saint’s death — the day of final union with God through Christ and in the Holy Spirit. I have little doubt that in this sense May 30, 2015, is a feast day for everyone here. We may be weeping still, and may weep more. But thanks to Beau this is also a time of almost unlimited grace. I pray, for all of us, that the gift and promise of his life may deepen our love and faith and hope in God — and in one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Via Crucis invites youth to participate in 2012 pageant

December 9th, 2011 Posted in Our Diocese, Youth Tags: , ,

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WILMINGTON — Children from New Castle County and nearby locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland are invited to participate in the 2012 version of the Via Crucis, the annual presentation of Jesus’ passion and death at St. Anthony of Padua Church.
The tradition of Via Crucis (“Way of the Cross”) goes back more than 50 years. It is done in pantomime, accompanied by narration and choir music. The cast is composed entirely of high school and elementary school children.
Those who would like to participate should sign up on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. at St. Anthony’s, located at Ninth and Dupont streets. Elementary school children must be accompanied by a parent or other adult. It is open to students in any public, private or parochial school, and they need not be Catholic “because Via Crucis is relative to all Christians,” according to St. Anthony’s.
There are no lines to memorize, and everyone is assured a role. Rehearsals will be held on Sunday afternoons until the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Via Crucis is presented at 7:30 on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent, including Good Friday. The presentation lasts an hour.
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