Rediscovering 'joy of believing' aim of Magnificat event, says founder
By Elisabeth Deffner
Catholic News Service
(CNS photo/Dean Machin, courtesy Westbound Communications Inc.)
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (CNS) -- Father Robert Reed, director of the CatholicTV Network, said with a smile: "There is great power in this hour."
The priest addressed 2,800 Catholics who filled the Diocese of Orange's new cathedral in Garden Grove for the Magnificat Day of Faith. As master of ceremonies, he was making a play on the Rev. Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" nationally broadcast television show.
The daylong event was held in Rev. Schuller's famed Crystal Cathedral, the future Christ Cathedral for the Diocese of Orange. The almost all-glass cathedral was purchased by the diocese almost exactly a year before.
The church was an ideal location for the first Southern California Magnificat event, according to Magnificat Foundation president Pierre-Marie Dumont, both because of its size and because of people's interest in seeing the property that has been a hot topic in news stories both local and national.
It was put up for auction in early 2011 as part of bankruptcy proceedings for the financially struggling Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
Previous events hosted by the foundation have been in New York City, in 2002, and Boston, in 2008, and all have the same goal: to be a sort of spiritual booster shot that will impact parishes across the diocese where they take place -- and beyond.
"We don't come into a diocese to replace Catholic life in parishes or to be competitive," said Dumont told the Orange County Catholic diocesan newspaper in an interview prior to Nov. 3 event. "We're here to add a supplement -- an experience that will return the people to their parishes with joy."
Held in association with the Orange Diocese, the event was two years in the making.
Dumont is executive publisher of the monthly magazine Magnificat, a pocket-size publication produced in several languages that includes prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, the readings for daily Mass, and meditations and spiritual writings. Magnificat also has a publication for children and other resources.
The nine-hour event in Garden Grove included morning prayer, evening prayer, and a pause for the Angelus at noon. Norbertine priests from St. Michael's Abbey in the Orange Diocese led the chant, and other local Catholics participated in the event by presenting the intercessions and acting as lectors.
Speakers came from across the U.S. and other countries, and a highlight was keynoter Clara Gaymard, daughter of Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the late pro-life French Catholic geneticist.
Sometimes called the founding father of genetics, Lejeune discovered the cause of Down syndrome and dreamed of one day finding the cure for it. The great tragedy of his life, his daughter said, was that his discovery -- in tandem with the use of amniocentesis -- often resulted in the abortion of unborn children found to have the condition.
Lejeune's focus on pro-life work damaged his reputation in the scientific community, she added, and he believed it lost him his chance at the Nobel Prize. "He was alone," she said simply. "No one wanted to follow him."
A member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as the first president of the Academy of Life. And despite the challenges Lejeune faced in his career, he said on his deathbed, "I never betrayed my faith." He died in April 1994.
The cause for his canonization was opened in 2007; Lejeune was declared a "servant of God."
For Gaymard, who is CEO of General Electric in France and the mother of nine children, as well as her four siblings and the rest of the family, it was the simple way he lived his faith that made him an example to follow.
"We are the children of God," Gaymard explained, "and because we know it, we can do everything."
Her personal testimony was bookended by presentations on sacred art by Dominican Father Michael Morris and song as prayer, presented by Chris Vath and Ken Genuard. Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, the publisher of Magnificat magazine in the United States, rounded out the day with a presentation called "Your Faith Has Saved You," immediately before Evening Prayer concluded the event.
The point of the Magnificat Day of Faith -- purposely scheduled as soon after the Oct. 11 launch Year of Faith as possible -- was to help attendees "rediscover the joy of believing," Father Reed said, quoting Pope Benedict XVI.
"This is what the church is supposed to be: deeply joyful," he told the crowd.
The Year of Faith, proclaimed by the pope, will close Nov. 24, 2013.
The daylong event at the cathedral also was meant, several speakers noted, to be a sort of mutual support system.
"We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are encouraging us and praying for us and supporting us," said Jesuit Father James Kubicki in his homily during the morning prayer. "We are stronger in the faith by knowing we are not in this alone."
- Deffner is editor of the Orange County Catholic, newspaper of the Orange Diocese.