UPDATED: Hundreds attend annual Pink Mass and Celebration of Hope Dinner
Story and photos by Rebecca Drake
SPRINGFIELD -- St. Michael's Cathedral, here, was filled with pink -- and prayers -- as more than 500 worshippers attended the Third Annual Pink Mass, held this afternoon for cancer survivors, those still struggling with the disease and those who have died after battling the disease.
The Mass was taped by the Catholic Communications ministry of the Springfield Diocese and will be broadcast at 10 a.m. Sunday morning on the "Chalice of Salvation" on WWLP-22NEWS.
As he welcomed those present, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell asked them to also pray for all those who work in the fields of diagnosing, treating and researching cancer.
During his homily, Bishop McDonnell, referring to the Gospel reading (Luke 15:1-32), which included the parable of the prodigal son, said, "There is no question that Christ is with us, God is with us ... and that God is a loving father."
The bishop reminded the congregation that "the age-old question of why people suffer is not yet answered," but "Christ showed us the proper approach to suffering."
"We are provided with God's grace to carry whatever crosses we have," Bishop McDonnell said. A cancer survivor himself, he said that survivors of the disease "should let God's grace shine through us and reach out to give others hope."
Among the cancer survivors present, were Jim Armstrong, of St. Joseph Parish, Pittsfield, who did the First Reading, and Jennifer Rossmiller, of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Springfield, who did the Second Reading.
Speaking to iobserve, Armstrong said the prayers and support of many people in Pittsfield helped him endure surgery and treatments for esophageal cancer. He is now cancer-free.
Eugene Murphy, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Holyoke whose wife, Kay, has had three bouts with cancer, said he appreciated the Mass and the Celebration of Hope Dinner that followed at the Elks Lodge in Springfield. "The Mass was very reverent and very moving. It was sorrowful, but also joyful," he said.
Speaking at the dinner, Rossmiller said that the goal of the Celebration of Hope Committee, which plans the Mass and dinner, is "to raise awareness and make sure you're doing things to keep yourself healthy."
She thanked those present, saying, "We're all here because we want to make a difference."
Other highlights of the evening included the release of dozens of white balloons filled with prayer intentions and the presentation of the first Celebration of Hope Award to Rosa Dell'Aera-Smith (pictured at left), whose personal struggles with the disease helped to inspire the first Pink Mass and Celebration of Hope Dinner three years ago.
"She has hope and she inspires it in others," said Celebration of Hope Committee member Terence Hegarty as he presented the award to Dell'Aera-Smith.
Proceeds from the dinner will go to four local cancer support organizations.
Click here for a gallery of photos from the Pink Mass and Celebration of Hope Dinner:
Watch for more on the Third Annual Pink Mass and Celebration of Hope Dinner on an upcoming edition of the Springfield Diocese's weekly newsmagazine "Real to Reel," which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.