By Fr. Salvador Gonzalez, OMI, Director, National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
On February 2, 2024, amidst the solemnity of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the observance of World Day of Consecrated Life, Bishop Michael McGovern, the esteemed leader of the Belleville Diocese, graced the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows with his presence. This marked the third consecutive year that Bishop McGovern chose this sacred venue to honor the consecrated women and men who selflessly serve the Diocese of Belleville.
The occasion, held in Belleville, transcended mere ceremony; it was a profound tribute to the devoted lives of consecrated individuals and a recognition of their indispensable contributions to both the Church and the wider community. With heartfelt gratitude, Bishop McGovern expressed appreciation to the women and men representing various religious orders for their unwavering service. He urged the congregation to continue praying fervently for vocations to the Consecrated life, recognizing its vital role in sustaining the Church’s mission.
In addition to honoring the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and World Day of Consecrated Life, Bishop McGovern blessed the numerous candles brought by the faithful for personal prayer throughout the year, also to be used for the Feast of St. Blaise, the following day, for the traditional blessing of throats. This act of blessing resonated with symbolic significance, symbolizing the light of faith illuminating the path ahead.
The Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows was concelebrated by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and attended by various women religious congregations, highlighting the unity and diversity within the consecrated life community.
Fr. Salvador Gonzalez, OMI, Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, expressed profound gratitude to Bishop McGovern for his steadfast leadership and friendship, acknowledging his role as a guiding light within the diocese. His presence served as a reminder of Christ’s enduring presence among His people.