PROVIDENCE — On Sunday, January 1, the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, marking the beginning of the diocesan Year with Mary our Mother — a special opportunity to renew personal devotion to the Blessed Mother.
“As we begin a new year, we begin writing a new chapter of our life,” the bishop said. “We continue our pilgrimage, our journey of life. On this journey like many journeys, we need a tour guide. We need someone to show us the way, otherwise it’s very easy to get lost. Our Blessed Mother Mary is the perfect tour guide. If you follow Mary you will never ever get lost on your pilgrimage of life.”
Knights of Columbus from around the state, religious and many faithful gathered at the cathedral to begin the Marian year with the celebration of Mass, focusing on Mary’s unique role in the history of salvation.
“The Year with Mary our Mother is an opportunity for us as Catholics to renew our blessed devotion to our mother Mary,” said Bishop Tobin. “We strive to follow her example and all of her many, many virtues that are so important for the Christian life. We ask for Mary’s protection, her intercession and her assistance in our lives. Mary can certainly bless our world, our nation, our church and each of us individually if we ask for her help. So we pray that this Year with Mary our Mother will be a time of abundant grace and blessings for all of the members of our church, our diocese, our parishes, our schools, our organizations and for our families and each and every person.”
Following the Mass, holy cards with the image of Our Lady of Divine Providence were distributed. Bishop Tobin also invited anyone visiting the cathedral to pray before the new devotional area dedicated to the Blessed Mother, in which flowers and candles surround a statue of Mary.
In October, Bishop Tobin announced that the 2017 calendar year would be celebrated as a Marian Year in the Diocese of Providence following the close of the Year of Mercy in November. Like the Year of Mercy, the Marian Year will provide special opportunities for Catholics in the diocese to increase their devotion to a particular aspect of the Catholic faith.
Ann Heath, who attended the Mass for Mary, said the Blessed Mother is a great example of love, and that she feels inspired to take that beautiful witness with her into the New Year.
“Prayers going through the Virgin Mary purify our prayers to Jesus,” she said. “He loves his mother so much he would honor those prayers. We don’t always know God’s will, but the mother teaches us to accept and through her instruction we get acceptance from God. She loves so deeply.”
Bishop Tobin told the congregation that they cannot know what this year will hold for them, for the world, nation or church, but that they must not worry. He encouraged them to trust in God’s love and protection — no matter what comes their way in the New Year.
“Learn the value of prayer,” said Bishop Tobin. “It is only in our prayer that we can keep God centered in our life. God will be good to you in this New Year. Let’s resolve to continue this life’s journey with much faith trust and prayer. If we follow the example of our Blessed Mother we will never get lost. If we follow her example she will lead us safely home to her son Jesus.”