WHEELING, West Virginia — Participants at a Forty Hours devotion at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling were urged to pray for the Church in the diocese, the United States and the world.

The cathedral’s rector, Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk, urged those who had gathered at the start of the “Forty Hours in Reparation for Sins and for Healing of the Church” Oct. 7 to pray “for reparation for those times that each of us has not loved Christ as much as we could or loved one another as well as we could.”

He also encouraged them to pray in reparation for the “sins of those who, within the Church, have harmed others — especially children” and to pray for the diocesan church and the appointment of its new bishop.

The priest also encouraged those at the Mass at the start of the devotion to “find some time here or there each day to visit the church in a quiet moment, spend that time with Christ” during the three days of prayer.

The opening Mass ended with a eucharistic procession led by the Knights of Columbus Carroll Council of Wheeling that went through the cathedral’s neighborhood. The three days of prayer included adoration, praying the Angelus, mid-afternoon prayers and evening and night prayers as well as opportunities for confession and specific litanies and novenas.

The homilist for the closing Mass was Father Brian Crenwelge, administrator of Mater Dolorosa Parish in Paden City and Holy Rosary Parish in Sistersville and assistant director of vocations for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Reflecting on forgiveness, he shared the stories of St. Maria Goretti, who forgave her killer and Jesus’ forgiveness of St. Peter after he denied him three times — essentially calling the congregation to greater self-sacrificial love.

“Are we able to reach out to our Lord and forgive as he forgave, to love as he loves?” asked Crenwelge, who also concelebrated the Mass. “If we can, we are still in the right to expect change, we are still in the right to expect action against great evil.”

The priest said the grace of forgiveness is especially important in the “midst of the continued brokenness in the clergy and members of Christ’s Church.”

Daniel Callahan, a diocesan seminarian who served at the Mass, said the devotion “provided a reminder of why the Church can focus on a future with hope.”

“It is in putting Christ first, while recognizing that there are many sins that need to be confessed and consequently penances made for them, that we can stand in the promise that he will never abandon us,” he told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

The seminarian said the devotion and “40 hours spent with Christ bore much fruit for the body of Christ.”

Rowan is executive editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.