Mass honors the legacy of Martin Luther King
By Michele Chan Santos
The diocesan Mass honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. featured an emotional and compelling homily from Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.
The service was held Jan. 18 at St. Mary Cathedral in downtown Austin. Although it was the 12th annual celebration of this Mass, the previous ones were held at Holy Cross Parish.
Bishop Murry spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Cathedral.
“We have come so far by faith,” he told the multiracial crowd. “But there is still work to be done to build a society of freedom and equal opportunity.”
“We must look back, remember how we came to this land in slavery, our families dismembered, our backs broken,” Bishop Murry said. “But joyfully we also remember how God gave us the gift of perseverance, how he gave us a man with a dream that included everyone.”
He spoke about the importance of shaking off complacency, of confronting “the evil of racism in all its forms.” The bishop decried the recent violence which has spurred protests nationwide, saying, “All of us cry for the lives lost in Ferguson, in New York, in Chicago.”
Today is a time for moving past self-doubt, he said.
“We must open our eyes and ears to see and hear hope in ourselves. Dr. King opened a door, now is the time for us to walk through those doors.”
Do not give in to despair, despite these troubled times, he urged.
“Death only comes when we walk away from God. God does not walk away from us. God will give us the strength to confront the evils of our day. He will give us the strength to say, ‘In Christ, I am free.’”
The Mass was concelebrated by Father Albert Laforet, rector of the Cathedral, and Missionary of St. Paul Father Basil Aguzie, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Austin. Deacon Frank Ashley of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in College Station and Deacon Guadalupe Rodriguez of the Cathedral assisted with the Mass.
The choir of Holy Cross Parish performed several songs, including “Open Up Your Heart” and “We Shall Overcome.”
The Knights of Peter Claver and the Knights of Columbus formed an honor guard for Bishop Murry and priests entering the Mass. At the end of the Mass, children and teens from Holy Cross Parish and St. Mary Cathedral School spoke about Dr. King and his legacy.
Johnnie Dorsey, diocesan director of the Office of Black Catholics, which planned the Mass, said it was moved to the Cathedral to encourage people from all parishes to attend.
The fact that so many people came to the Mass “showed people were interested in the message the bishop gave,” Dorsey said. “The topics are very relevant, especially the social justice issues.”
“One of my favorite sayings by Dr. King is ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” Dorsey said.
“The civil rights movement affected change, but change is still needed. We need to be aware of injustices to many people that need to be fixed today. The recent shootings of young black men by law enforcement show that there is still a struggle that needs to be won.”