With a prayer for peace, Bishop Robert Deeley welcomes in the New Year

Acknowledging the trials faced in 2023, including the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, but expressing his fervent hope for a year ahead blessed with peace and joy, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated a New Year’s Day Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

“As a people, we hope that this coming year will be better than last year - better for ourselves, our families, and the world,” the bishop said. “We live in hope, as we pray for peace. We gather here this morning to bring our hope to the One who watches over us.”

On January 1, the Church celebrates the World Day of Peace, which was established in 1968 by Pope Paul VI. The bishop called peace “the foundation of the tranquility we all seek,” but he said that true peace can only be found in Christ.

“We want peace of mind, peace of heart, peace in our families, and peace in the world. Peace, the tranquility of order and equilibrium, is the necessary condition for growth and prosperity. But that natural desire for peace cannot achieve true, lasting peace either in our hearts, our families, or our world. We believe, in fact, that only Jesus Christ can bring true peace. Only the message of the good news that Jesus brought to us can overcome the deepest divisions, antagonisms, and wounds that feed conflict from within,” the bishop said.

Along with the World Day of Peace, January 1 is also the Octave of Christmas and the day on which the Church celebrates Mary as the Mother of God. The bishop said it was Mary’s yes that opened the way for God to send Jesus into the world, and it was her life as a disciple of her son that shows us how we can achieve the peace we seek as we begin a new year.

“She was filled with God’s grace because she opened her life to the Lord. She accepted and trusted God when he asked her to be the mother of his son, but she lived her life in prayerful trust in the divine mission of her son, even when she did not fully comprehend what was happening,” the bishop said.

Bishop Deeley said that Mary reminds us that each of us is called to holiness.

“It is for everyone. And it does not separate us from what we are doing every day in our lives. As mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, we, like Mary, go about our daily business. It is in these very human situations of everyday life that we find our call to holiness and sanctity. We are sometimes tempted to think that the new or different thing is the way to holiness. Mary shows us that real holiness is born in the ordinary and every day of serving one another, and those God has entrusted to our care,” the bishop said. “As this new year begins, then, let us ask Mary, Mother of God and Queen of peace, to grant us peace in our hearts, harmony in our families, and concord throughout the world.”

The Solemnity of Mary is one of the many feasts of Christmas. On December 31, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. January 7 is the Epiphany of the Lord, a celebration of the arrival of the Magi and the revelation of Christ to the world, and on January 8, the season of Christmas will conclude with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

With seven days of Christmas still ahead, the cathedral remained decked out for the season during the New Year's Day Mass. Christmas trees were aglow with white lights. Poinsettias filled the steps in front of the altar, and a Nativity scene featuring nearly life-sized figures.

Additional Resources

Pope Francis' Prayer for Peace

Pope Francis' World Day of Prayer Message 2024 (External Link)

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Manger scene
Opening procession as seen from the back of the church.
Opening prayer by Bishop Deeley
Father Seamus Griesbach reads the Gospel.
Bishop Robert Deeley shares his homily.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Bishop Robert Deeley holds up the host during consecration.
Stained glass Nativity window