Archbishop celebrates anniversary

The Magnificat is an ecstasy of praise for the inestimable favor bestowed by God on the Virgin, for the mercies shown to Israel, and for the fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham and to the patriarchs, and it is the opening words of the prayer which resonated with Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder as he celebrated Mass in recognition of his 20th anniversary of episcopal ordination and 43rd priestly ordination.

“These opening words of The Magnificat [My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.] resonate with me today as I recall that 20 years ago today [August 15], I was ordained a bishop,” said the archbishop of Nassau.

Pinder, the first Bahamian bishop and first Bahamian archbishop said the events of that day two decades ago remain vivid in his memory. He said as he ponders them, he questions where the time went.

The archbishop’s anniversary was recognized with a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, during which he gave credit to the people that had a hand in who he is today.

Pinder spoke to being “deeply convinced” that there was a direct connection between his maternal grandmother’s embrace of the Roman Catholic faith and his vocation.

“The Catholic faith entered my family through my maternal grandmother – she first encountered the faith by the early Benedictine missionaries at Mangrove Cay, Andros, when she was a young teenager. She had very little, if any, formal education, yet she had an instinctual grasp of the spiritual treasure which is our faith, and she never wavered in that. I am deeply convinced that there is a direct connection between her embrace of the faith, and my vocation. The Lord does work in mysterious ways,” said Pinder.

He also credited Father Elias of the Order of Saint Benedict for taking his vocation seriously and introducing him to Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty, who he described as a “man of enormous grace and generosity”.

Forty-three years ago, he was ordained a priest at Our Lady’s Church.

Twenty years ago on August 15, he was ordained a bishop.

Pinder’s two-decade anniversary took place on the same day as the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which honors the fact that when the Blessed Virgin Mary completed her life on earth, she was taken body and soul into Heaven to be with her resurrected Son so as to adore the Most Holy Trinity forever.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. These words from early in the Gospel of Luke, they are as today as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event describes the visitation – Mary having been informed by the Angel Gabriel that she is to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit; she set out to visit her older cousin Elizabeth who will soon give birth to John the Baptist. The event contains so much for us to take in. It is as it were, the first encounter between Jesus and John the Baptist, though both are still yet to be born. Elizabeth addressing Mary for example, gives us the second line of the Hail Mary Prayer – blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb – and Mary responds with her great prayer, The Magnificat. It is the fixture of our divine office in the evening prayer of the church, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,’ she says.

The archbishop said the church puts these words before Catholics on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to remind them of a belief held by the church from the earliest times.

“The Gospel of John tells us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Mary is the human instrument through whom the word became flesh. Her place in our history, the story of our salvation, is beyond equal. And speaking of her, we speak of her immaculate conception which prepares the way for the virgin birth of the word made flesh. Then we speak of her bodily assumption into heaven and these are all aspects of that central teaching of our church – her incarnation – the word became flesh and dwelt among us. In other words, God who was infinitely distant from us, became intimately close to us, so close as to share our nature, to share our condition, to be like us in all things, but sin.”

He reminded Catholics who celebrated at Mass with him that in the incarnation, the infinite took the form of an infant. And that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary also points them to The Creed where they say that they believe in the resurrection of the body.

“Yes, my friends, this feast contains so much for us to take in. Those opening words of The Magnificat though resonate in so many other ways, too, and for me, they resonate in a special way today,” said Pinder.

During the Mass, the archbishop also remembered with gratitude his immediate predecessor Bishop Leonard Aloysiuis Burke of the Society of Jesus, who he said gave 22 years of excellent leadership and example as a shepherd and leader in the faith. He also recalled with gratitude Monsignor Preston Moss who served as his first vicar general.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, for it is the greatness of the Lord which has done so many marvelous things in the life of our archdiocese, and especially over these past few decades in my life, too. Whenever we gather to celebrate the eucharist, one thing we do is pray for the bishop during the Eucharistic Prayer. And the church insists that we pray for the bishop by name. For the many times you have made that prayer for me, and held my intention in your heart, please know that I am most grateful, most profoundly appreciative.”

As he recognized his 20th year as a bishop, he said the Episcopal Office and the responsibilities attached to it are many and that they can be burdensome. But with the cooperation, support, encouragement, and all the other ways of accompaniment by which the faithful, both lay and clerical, provide, he said they lighten his load considerably.

“What is accomplished, what is achieved, we accomplish and we achieve together. So then, on this great feast of the Blessed Mother, we can all pray her prayer, with hearts full of gratitude, with hearts full of hope. Let it be known, my soul proclaims the greatness to the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant,” said Pinder.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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