Diocese Of Brooklyn Comes Together For Annual Mass Of Hope And Healing

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Inspiration, Mass of Hope and Healing, Queens, NY

By Tim Harfmann

The fifth annual Mass of Hope and Healing was a liturgy planned by survivors for survivors. Father Jeffry Dillon – a survivor himself – addressed the gathering as the homilist; “I am here to say, ‘I am Jeffry, and I am a survivor of priest sexual abuse.”

Father Dillon was abused when he was a Catholic school student in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Diocese of Brooklyn’s Survivors Advisory Committee organized the Mass and selected him to speak. Father Dillion, pastor of Our Lady of Light parish in Saint Albans, Queens said the struggle to overcome the evil impact of abuse never ends; “It is not over for the victim-survivors. They have to cope everyday of their lives with the devastation that they have endured.”

Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the Hope and Healing Mass. “It’s always a night that is moving because you know there are victims there, not identified. They come with great faith, looking for support from the community,” said Bishop DiMarzio. The auxiliary bishops of the diocese concelebrated the liturgy, along with dozens of priests and deacons.

The Mass drew people from Brooklyn, Queens and beyond — and those Catholics from elsewhere were impressed with the outreach of the Brooklyn diocese in offering hope and healing. “The ones that were from other dioceses mentioned, ‘you know, I haven’t had a priest that has even reached out to me,’ said Jasmine Salazar, the diocese’s vice chancellor and victims assistance coordinator; “They were moved, like, ‘oh okay, priests do care, the bishops are involved. There is interest in this.”

Deacon Phil Franco, another survivor from Brooklyn, was abused when he was a teenager. He said what the diocese is doing helps survivors overcome a natural fear.

“At one point or another, every victim was afraid to come forward,” said Deacon Franco. “They were afraid who would say what. They were afraid who would believe them. And then, when you see a church filled with hundreds of people: priests, deacons, faithful; It’s an affirmation that you’re not alone and the Church is truly a communion, it’s truly one.”

Father Dillon said that Christ shows the way forward, by listening to Jesus; “He always began by asking, ‘what is it that you would like me to do?’ What the survivors would like is for the leaders to listen to them.”

Before the Mass, survivors lit the Easter Candle and prayed to remember abuse victims who have died.