Steven Travale, Youth Speak News

The heart of the Hamilton diocese

By  Steven Travale, Youth Speak News
  • October 9, 2015

When I was first accepted as a member of Youth Speak News, I knew my first task was to visit the Hamilton diocesan headquarters and introduce myself. It was important for me to do as an involved, young Catholic.

Making the two-hour trip would show my willingness and dedication as a writer for The Catholic Register to learn about the Church. I would be able to have a reliable source for stories and information on important events.

Not many people get the chance to really get to know their diocesan office and all the work done there, so I took that opportunity. When I pulled up to the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King, my stomach was in knots. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Arriving at the office, it dawned on me how different this was from any parish rectory. The colossal building housed offices for directors, meeting rooms, shipping and receiving rooms and even a chapel. There were so many people coming in and out — collared priests, custodians, construction workers and, of course, office staff.

Little did I realize how much really goes on behind the scenes at the Diocese of Hamilton, or any Catholic diocese for that matter. Every day, hundreds of phone calls are received, e-mails sent and discussions held. This was the heart of the diocese, more than 120 parishes. It handled finances, legal matters, documentation and communication with, and for all of the parishes.

The first leg of my visit was to the Bishop Farrell Library and Archives, a huge room in the basement filled wall to wall with rolling shelves. I was fascinated with all the historical documents and items kept there. While the Chancery Office was the heart of the diocese, this was the mind. All the records of our history, carefully organized into dossiers and boxes. It was a step back in time.

The library section houses an extensive collection of texts and resources available to practically anyone within the diocese and I was able to peruse some material for historical reference, spiritual guidance and Church law.

Leaving the building, adjacent to the Chancery Office, Aleman and I were stopped and greeted by Bishop Douglas Crosby. He gave me a blessing for my writing and took a moment for a photo with me. I was touched by his kindness and sincerity. Bishop Crosby struck me as a man devoted to his diocese and its people. He spoke with such grace and interest, and it left an indelible mark on me. There is no doubt in my mind he will serve his new position as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops with passion and dedication.

Next, was a look inside the “finest church in Canada” as former Bishop McNally called it during its construction. This majestic, Gothic-style cathedral was the first in the world to be named “Christ the King.” From the Italian marble to the German-made stained glass, I was amazed at the beauty of this church, built for His greater glory. The colossal building is a reminder to those all over Hamilton and beyond that a strong sense of faith and community is ever-present, and the cathedral is a physical symbol of the accomplishments of Catholics to unite, serve and welcome all.

When my day came to a close, one thing struck me about this visit. The tour reminded me that we are all part of one family — unpretentious, loving and created in God’s image.

The bishop, the chancellor and the directors are not distant figures in the Catholic Church. They, like our Universal Church, exist to serve, tend and love its sons and daughters. The nervousness I felt when I approached what seemed like a formal occasion had all but vanished, quite simply because I was made to feel welcome and at home — something that each and every person, Catholic or not, should feel.

(Travale, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Sacred Heart High School in Walkerton, Ont.)

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