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Next Thursday marks an anniversary that readers will certainly want to note: The 50th Anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council, or “Vatican II.” This momentous gathering of Catholic bishops in Rome has dramatically shaped the Catholic Church over the past five decades.

As a result of the council, the Mass is no longer celebrated exclusively in Latin, and Catholics are more diligently dedicated to the interior renewal of the church, Christian unity, and a proper relationship between the church and world. It’s hard to overstate the impact that this event has had in the last 50 years on the lives of Catholics and on the world as a whole.

As memories of Vatican II become more and more distant, Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a “Year of Faith” for Catholics (beginning Oct. 11) to recall the Second Vatican Council and, more importantly, the basics of the Catholic faith. Events throughout the Archdiocese of Washington will be commemorating this significant year.

Right here in St. Mary’s County, I myself will be giving a presentation on the legacy of the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at St. Aloysius Church in Leonardtown.

In short, Oct. 11 is a date that shouldn’t pass by unnoticed, whether one is a Catholic or otherwise.

Leonard E. Wathen Jr., Leonardtown

The writer is director of religious education at St. Aloysius Church.