(courtesy photo)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, joined by priests from throughout the Diocese of Phoenix, prepares the altar during a Mass of Healing and Reconciliation at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Dec. 1. (courtesy photo)

Christ brings beauty out of brokenness. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted emphasized this during a Mass he celebrated for survivors of abuse and their families Dec. 1.

“As followers of Christ, we know that only in Him is it possible to find true peace,” Bishop Olmsted said. “Only Christ can mend broken hearts. Only Christ can renew hope. In this Mass we ask the Lord to heal all those who are suffering from abuse in the Church.”

The Mass of Healing and Reconciliation was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Phoenix. Throughout the liturgy, Bishop Olmsted pointed out that those who have suffered occupy a special place in the Heart of Christ.

“Jesus found that those who listened and received the Good News were the poor, the persons without guile, those who knew that they needed healing and mercy, and often those who had been mistreated and overlooked in society.”

Bishop Olmsted also explained during his homily that Christ suffered extensively for the human race, in order to relieve our pain.

“Our God is so rich in mercy, He greatly desires that no one should feel trapped in sadness, isolation, feeling alone or abandoned. And so He sent His beloved Son into the world, entering so fully into the human condition, that He took upon Himself every suffering that we could suffer.”

Anne Vargas-Leveriza, director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Phoenix, works closely with victims of abuse and noted how the Healing Mass assists them.

“The journey of healing is a process but I’ve been working with the survivors of abuse for awhile now and the Healing Mass is very impactful, in a lot of ways,” Vargas-Leveriza said. “One of those ways is that everybody is there — the Mass is dedicated solely for all the survivors. Second, the presence of all the clergy at the Mass is very impactful for all the survivors as well.”

The Healing Mass has been celebrated at different parishes in the Diocese of Phoenix since 2006. Bishop Olmsted intends for it to be held twice a year, once during Advent and once during Lent, the two penitential seasons of the Church. The Office of Child and Youth Protection organizes the Mass and invites all the survivors to attend.

“Perhaps there are those of you here tonight who have suffered much … perhaps from abuse within the Church, or in the community or family … suffered without knowing if healing for them was actually possible,” Bishop Olmsted said, offering encouragement to anyone who has been hurt. “Please listen again tonight to the words Our Lord speaks to us through this Eucharist, and especially speaks to us every year through the season of Advent. These words from the Prophet Isaiah, from over 2000 years ago, ‘Be consoled. Be consoled my people. Rise up, come to the Lord and be healed.’”