At the Jan. 2 Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrating Cardinal Donald Wuerl's 25th anniversary as a bishop, he presents a Manifesting the Kingdom Award to Lottie Albury of Holy Name Parish in Washington, one of 201 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Washington who received the award.
At the Jan. 2 Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrating Cardinal Donald Wuerl's 25th anniversary as a bishop, he presents a Manifesting the Kingdom Award to Lottie Albury of Holy Name Parish in Washington, one of 201 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Washington who received the award.
Likening those who serve the Church today to the Star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus, Cardinal Donald Wuerl on Jan. 2 honored about 200 religious and lay people for their outstanding service to the Church that "points for all to see that the kingdom of God is at work in our midst."

During the Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Wuerl celebrated his 25th anniversary as a bishop and presented each honoree with a Manifesting the Kingdom Award.

He told the honorees that through their outstanding service to the Church, they "replicate the work of the Great Star of Bethlehem ... to manifest Jesus today and to lead people to Him."

"For 2,000 years, it has been the work of the Church, all of us, every member of the Body of Christ, to show forth to the world the presence of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord, one of us who is also the Son of God," the cardinal said. "Your light ... has made it possible for so many to see in you what the Magi found when they followed the light and encountered the Child: God with us, God at work with us."

About 3,000 people attended the liturgy. Concelebrants included four cardinals: Cardinal William Baum and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishops emeritus of Washington; Cardinal William Keeler, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore; and retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan. Also concelebrating were nearly two dozen bishops including Bishops Francisco Gonzlez, Martin Holley and Barry Knestout, the auxiliary bishops of Washington; Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA. About 70 priests also concelebrated the Mass.

The award winners were nominated by their pastors or organization sponsor, and represent parishes and Catholic organizations from throughout every region of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Cardinal Wuerl established the Manifesting the Kingdom award while he was bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to recognize parishioners for extraordinary service to their parish. This was the first time the Manifesting the Kingdom award has been given in the Archdiocese of Washington.
In his homily, the cardinal addressed the award winners, saying, "There are almost 200 of you gathered in this Basilica right now. Your light has manifested Christ in your work, maybe as a parish volunteer for the thousand and one tasks that make up parish life every day, or as a Eucharistic minister, or a visitor to the sick, maybe you are a religious education director or coordinator, or a teacher in one of our Catholic schools, elementary or secondary, or someone who gives religious instruction in a parish in the myriad forms of ongoing education," he said. "Maybe you are a woman or a man consecrated to God in religious life, a health care minister, a volunteer in a nursing home. Perhaps you serve on a board or a committee with responsibilities in this Church for finance, social service ministry, pastoral concerns, justice and peace, education. It may be that you are a cemetery worker, a parish helper, a bazaar or raffle worker, an altar society devotee with decades of devoted commitment, a youth minister, counselor, custodian or parent."

Whatever their service to the Church, Cardinal Wuerl told the honorees, "it is a living effort to manifest the kingdom of God."

"All of you ... form the marvel of Christ being made visible in a unique and brilliant manner," he said.

Referring to the Mass' Gospel reading in which the three magi present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, Cardinal Wuerl told the honorees that "each of you ... has offered your rich gifts: your talents, your time, your energy and, above all else, your love.

"Just as Jesus came to be known in the homage and in the gifts that were given by these three Magi, so Christ has become known, has become more clearly visible in this Church, because of your presence, your gifts, your witness," Cardinal Wuerl said.

"Today it is my privilege as shepherd of this Church, as archbishop of the Holy Church of Washington ... to thank each one of you personally and all of you collectively for your service, your witness, your commitment to Jesus in his Church and to recognize your contribution that manifests and builds up whatever expression of God's kingdom we can lay claim to in this Church," he added.

Likening the work of the volunteers to the star that guided the Magi to the Christ Child, Cardinal Wuerl said that "there many, many holy lives, dedicated people, women and men, disciples of Jesus, who replicate the work of that Great Star of Bethlehem. The Church continues to rely on that constellation of stars to manifest Jesus today and to lead people to him."

"Without Epiphany, without a showing, without a manifestation, Jesus easily could have gone through life without being recognized as God's Son," Cardinal Wuerl said. "For Christ to have an effect in our lives, he has to be recognized. For Christ to be recognized, he has to be manifested."

Prior to the presentation of the awards, Bishop Knestout noted that honors were being presented for the "quiet and at times unnoticed service" offered to the Church by the award winners. Jane Belford, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the "exceptional service to the Church" offered by the honorees demonstrates "the presence of Jesus in their lives. The archdiocese rejoices in so many faithful good men and women."

Belford called each honoree by name to the altar to receive the award from Cardinal Wuerl.

"Your name is etched in glass as a permanent recognition of your individual gift to the Church, and therefore to Christ," Cardinal Wuerl said of the award.

Cardinal Wuerl called it "my privilege as shepherd of this Church" to thank the honorees for "your service, your witness, your commitment to Jesus in his Church and to recognize your contribution that manifests and builds up whatever expression of God's kingdom we can lay claim to in this Church."

After presenting awards, Cardinal Wuerl led the congregation in a standing ovation for the honorees. "Thank you for the blessing that you are to each of us," he said.

"To each one of you and all of you together, congratulations. May God bless you and, in the name of the Church of Washington, thank you," Cardinal Wuerl said. "The light shines, and here that light is multiplied. May we continue to work in that light of Christ Jesus."