US bishops offer prayers for workers, families on May 1 holiday

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Bishops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming arrive to concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome May 1. From left are: Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator of Denver, Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M., Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) — A group of U.S. bishops began their “ad limina” visits to Rome praying for workers and for families.

The bishops of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming concelebrated Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major May 1, marking the beginning of the month traditionally devoted to Mary, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and the Worker’s Day public holiday in Italy and many other countries.

Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix concelebrate Mass with bishops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome May 1. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass, said that on the holiday, “our thoughts turn to workers everywhere. We should pray for workers today, especially those who are having a difficult time in their job, for those who are not paid a just wage or a living wage, for those single moms who try to raise their children” by working both outside and inside the home.

The bishop also prayed for those who work “in sweatshops, who are paid just a pittance, who may be working standing, maybe for 18 hours a day.”

In many parts of the world, he said, it is a terrible time when “people work so hard for so little and they suffer so many injustices. So we pray for them and their families.”

Focusing first on Mary and Joseph, Bishop Ramirez praised their role as parents “who welcomed Jesus into the world and taught him good manners and taught him how to be a good Jewish boy.”

The bishop said the virtue he admired most in Mary and Joseph is meekness.

“Meekness is not a weakness,” he said. Rather, “it connotes strength and courage because it has to do with surrendering to the will of God.”

Bishop Ramirez said he’s sure there never has been a household as peaceful as the Holy Family’s because “there is a serenity connected to surrendering to God’s will.”

The 10 bishops at the Mass were the 13th group of U.S. bishops to come to Rome since November to make their “ad limina” visits, which the heads of dioceses are required to make periodically to report on the status of their dioceses. The visits include celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s and the major basilicas of Rome, meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and holding discussions with officials from Vatican congregations and councils.

— By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service 

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