Bishop welcomes people back to in-person events and Mass

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Bishop J. Mark Spalding talks with Catholic Business League board members Deb Varallo and Frederick Strobel at the group’s first in-person meeting in over a year on May 13 at the Fleming Center at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Bishop J. Mark Spalding was the keynote speaker for the Catholic Business League’s first in-person meeting in over a year on Thursday, May 13. Photo by Theresa Laurence

At the Catholic Business League’s first in-person meeting in more than a year, President Margaret Smith and Bishop J. Mark Spalding happily welcomed everyone back.

“It is truly such a privilege to be here with you this morning,” said Smith as she opened the meeting in the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s Fleming Center on Thursday, May 13.

The Catholic Business League was founded in 2007 “to connect, develop, and inspire Catholic professionals to live their faith at work, at home, and in their community.”

Since April 2020, CBL members have been meeting virtually over Zoom, but the group felt ready to return in person for the May 2021 meeting.

“Now it is right and good for us to return,” Bishop Spalding said in his keynote address to the group. He thanked CBL members for their presence and encouraged them to invite others back to Mass.

“It’s your mission to go into the world and take the faith with you,” Bishop Spalding said, referring to the words of Pope Benedict XVI. “All baptized people are co-responsible for the mission of the Church.”

Living the Catholic faith is important in all areas of life, and the nourishment to do that is drawn from participation in the Mass, Bishop Spalding said. “The touchstone of who we are as Roman Catholics happens at the altar,” he said.  “It’s where we will find identity and nourishment and strength.”

In his talk, Bishop Spalding pointed to the successes the Diocese of Nashville has had during the pandemic, including fully opening Catholic schools for the 2020-2021 school year. “The children were having a tough time,” when schools were closed last spring, he said.

“We’re not made to be separated,” Bishop Spalding told Catholic Business League members. “We are social beings. We’re on this earth with and for others, to make sure others get to heaven.”

In addition to offering his continued support to Catholic schools, in his talk Bishop Spalding also touched on the importance of supporting vocations and Catholic Charities and emphasized the integral role all members of the diocese play in its success.  

Serra Club

Bishop Spalding also attended the Serra Club of Williamson County meeting on Tuesday, May 11, at St. Philip Church in Franklin. It was the group’s largest turnout for in-person meetings since the start of the pandemic, with about 70 people present.

“It just felt really good to be back,” said Carole Guthrie, president of the Serra Club of Williamson County. “There was a lot of joy in the meeting.”

Speaking to the group, Bishop Spalding emphasized “how important the Serra Club is in praying for and supporting vocations,” Guthrie said.

The mission of the Serra Club  — an international organization of lay Catholics — is to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Locally, the Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville co-sponsor the annual Seminarian Education Event and Auction, which raises vital funds for the Diocese of Nashville to cover the cost of educating its 20 seminarians. The virtual event is coming up on Tuesday, May 25.

Serra members regularly pray for all those called to religious life, including seminarians, priests, deacons and religious sisters. They send prayer cards and notes to the seminarians during the year. “The seminarians always tell us how the cards come at the most important times for them,” and they provide hope and encouragement, said Guthrie.

“We’re very blessed in the Diocese of Nashville” with a strong culture of vocations and prayer, Guthrie said. “The Club did not flounder during COVID,” she said, adding new members over the past year and remaining steadfast in their support for vocations.  

As the Serra Club prepares for another virtual Seminarian Education Event and Auction later this month, “I’m looking so forward to 2022 when we can do it in person again,” Guthrie said.

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