On August 28, 2011, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge will dedicate a new church in Mount Olive, to be named Our Lady of the Angels. As construction on the new parish church got underway, in late 2010, Fr. James F. Garneau, pastor, invited the parish council to consider modifying the name of the parish. Founded as a mission of St. Mary, Goldsboro, in 1916, the mission and later parish (established in 1998) was simply known as St. Mary (in Mount Olive).
Recalling the story of St. Francis of Assisi, called by Christ to “Repair My Church,” Father Garneau suggested that the new name might be the same as that of the church re-built by the hands of St. Francis and his first companions, “St. Mary of the Angels.” The parish council, after due deliberation, unanimously endorsed the proposal, which was forwarded to the Bishop, who, in keeping with Canon Law, declared that the name of the parish be so amended, on June 8, 2011.
After Francis had embraced a life of poverty for the sake of the Gospel, one day he was at prayer in the Church of St. Damien in Assisi. Therein, after prolonged meditation, he heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him from the beautiful crucifix over the altar: “Francis, repair my Church.” Taking the command literally, Francis began to reconstruct the little church of St. Mary of the Angels, just outside of the town, which had long-since fallen into ruins. This little church became the mother-church of the Franciscan movement, and today, is enshrined within a great basilica built to shelter it.
Soon, Francis and those who joined him in this work came to understand that the call to “repair the Church” also had a deeper, spiritual sense. St. Francis’ witness of humility, faith, and freely-embraced poverty for the sake of the Kingdom offered a remedy for many of the ills that afflicted the Church, the Body of Christ in his day. Reconciling our hearts and lives to God, forgiving our enemies, and loving our neighbor freely and without reservation remain the principal remedies for our individual lives, hearts, souls, and for the Church as a whole.
The patronal feast for the Holy Mother of God under this title, “St. Mary of the Angels,” is celebrated on August 2 each year. The Church has enriched this day with a plenary indulgence for those who devoutly visit the parish church on this day, and who pray at least the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed.
In addition, the usual conditions for a plenary indulgence are required: that (within a week before or after the visit) the person seeking the indulgence make a sacramental confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, the Pope. Moreover, one must be free of all attachment to sin in order to receive the plenary indulgence, which is the complete forgiveness of all temporal punishment due to sin. If any of the conditions are defective, then the indulgence is partial. The same plenary indulgence is offered the faithful who visit the church on its day of dedication (and any subsequent anniversary day), under the same conditions.