Live the values of the Kingdom of God: peace and justice, Bishop Jugis preaches
Annual Mass offered for military personnel, past and present
Pictured: Bishop Peter J. Jugis blesses the Rusciolelli family, headed by Marine Col. William J. Rusciolelli, as they bring up the gifts during the annual Mass July 15 honoring the men and women in the Diocese of Charlotte who have served in the U.S. military. Rusciolelli served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.
CHARLOTTE — Service men and women from all military branches, their families and friends came together July 15 for a special Mass in their honor, celebrated by Bishop Peter J. Jugis at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.
The annual military Mass, held each July, is offered for all men and women in the military, those serving now as well as those who previously served or who have died in the line of duty.
People like Marine Sgt. John Adam Sisti, who served four tours in Afghanistan. Marine Capt. Owen Boyce, who served in Fallujah, Iraq. Marine Cpl. Matt Garst, currently deployed to Afghanistan and who recently survived an IED blast. Retired Marine Cpl. Chris Cona, who served in Beirut, Lebanon. 2nd Lt. Aldo Allegretti, 22, killed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day assault in World War II. Air Force Maj. Brian Burke and his wife, Maj. Elizabeth Burke. Capt. Peter DeMoss of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, who deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and 2nd Lt. Andrew DeMoss, who will be deploying this November. Navy Lt. William Blanton, pilot on the USS George Washington. Pfc. Robert Hoover, killed at the age of 18 after landing at Anzio Beach in 1944. And Maj. Ryan S. David, Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon and Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal – the four North Carolina Air National Guardsmen killed July 1 when their C-130 tanker crashed while battling a wildfire in South Dakota.
"We ask the Lord God to watch over them," Bishop Jugis said during his homily, which centered on the theme of the Kingdom of God as described in the day's Scripture readings.
The Gospel reading from Mark 6:7-13 tells how Jesus sent out the Apostles "two by two" to preach the Gospel, cure the sick and drive out demons. "The Apostles were in the service of the great King, Jesus Christ," Bishop Jugis noted.
He continued, "One time a group of Pharisees asked Jesus, 'Where is the Kingdom of God?' And Jesus responded, 'The Kingdom of God is among you.' In effect, He was saying to them that He is the Kingdom of God."
"The values of the Kingdom of God are the only path to peace and justice in the world," he noted.
In our hearts, we all desire the Kingdom of God, for we all want peace and justice, he said. We even pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy Kingdom come," as we look forward to the fullness of God's peace and justice when Jesus comes again.
But, he added, "We have no illusions. We know that we cannot create the Kingdom of God because the kingdom is God's. It is His to bring in its fullness with the second coming of Christ. Still, God's grace inspires us to live now the values of the Kingdom of God.
"To live the values of the Kingdom of God, and to put all of our energies into action to serve those values of justice and peace, is what we are all called to do – and in a particular way, it is what our brothers and sisters in uniform do in service to our country."
Bishop Jugis concluded, "In this Mass we pray for our family members and friends who are in uniform, that the Lord will protect them. And we ask the Lord to sustain their families while they are away in service, with His tender mercy, care and compassion." And we pray for those preparing for military service, for veterans, for those killed in the line of duty, and for military chaplains, he said.
"Let us live the values of the Kingdom of God" by following Jesus, he said.
Knights of Columbus and members of the Marine Corps League of Charlotte also attended the Mass.
Following the Mass, Marine Corps League member Paul Juneau gave a presentation about his service in the Korean War, describing in vivid detail the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. In this decisive battle in the winter of 1950, 30,000 U.N. troops including U.S. Marines and Army infantrymen advancing into North Korea were surrounded by about 67,000 elite Chinese troops. They withstood a brutal attack and inflicted heavy losses on the Chinese before withdrawing to South Korea, where the 38th parallel was later established as the dividing line for the two Koreas.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
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