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Celebrating 75 Years as the Diocese of Austin

On Nov. 19 at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Bishop Joe Vásquez kicked off the yearlong celebration of the Diocese of Austin’s 75th anniversary. The morning began with Mass featuring more than 140 priests, deacons and seminarians as well as members of Knights of Columbus, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, the Knights of Malta and nearly 2,000 representatives from the diocese’s 127 parishes, missions and university Catholic centers. The diocesan choir, which features more than 50 singers and musicians, led the participants in song throughout the Mass.  

Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka, the president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, served as the keynote presenter. He began his presentation by encouraging participants to broaden their expectations of God.

“If we would broaden our expectations, I think God would want to do even more in our lives,” he said. Then he talked about hunger.

“I think we live in an age in our culture and in our church where people are literally starving to death,” Father Pivonka said.

We are created with an emptiness, a hunger or a thirst that longs to be filled, he said.

“Most of the time people don’t even know it’s there, and they can’t really name it, then they look all kinds of places to satisfy that emptiness,” he said. “Are you even aware of the hunger that … God wants to satisfy within you?”

If only we knew the gift of God that has been given to us, he reflected.

“My hope and my prayer is that we are able to understand and connect to this void, this hurt, this hunger that we as the body of Christ have,” he said. “Jesus knows we are hungry and he wants to satisfy that hunger for us,” he said.

With examples from Scripture such as the woman at the well and Jesus feeding the multitudes, he showed how Jesus wants to fill our hunger. 

“In the Eucharist, we consume the Body of Christ,” he said. It’s not only the bread being changed, but we are being changed too, he said. “I hope we recognize that we too are being changed. It’s often easy for us to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, but we have a really difficult time recognizing Jesus in the person next to us.”

He concluded with a prayer asking Jesus, with the help of Mary, to help us fill our hunger with Jesus and not with the ways of the world. Let us become your Body, Lord, he prayed. 

After Father Pivonka’s presentation, Bishop Vásquez processed into the crowd and placed the Body of Christ on the altar as the crowd knelt in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Pivonka and Sister Lucero Espitia of the Discipulas de Cristo led participants in a guided meditation. Then Bishop Vásquez blessed the crowd with the Body of Christ and led the Divine Praises. 

The day concluded with a concert by the Dave Moore Band.