Since my arrival in the diocese, I have grown in my awareness of the many gifted and talented people who make up our diocese. While I still have more to learn, I have been very impressed by the quality and quantity of programs, ministries and services provided by the diocesan and parish leadership as well as your participation in these ministries. I am also aware of the many challenges that we face in carrying out the mission of the church.
As I have reflected on the planned Diocesan Visioning Process, I am reminded of the wise words of Pope John XXIII who has been quoted as saying, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but what it is still possible for you to do.” The Holy Father’s words are a good summary of my hopes for our Visioning Process. Pope Benedict XVI recently wrote a pastoral letter on the “Virtue of Hope” and he calls us to be disciples of hope for our world today.
While much has and is being accomplished, the Kingdom of God is still not fully a reality in our world. We still have Jesus’ great commission to “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:19) and our diocesan mission statement challenges us to “Boldly proclaim the Gospel.” To help further focus and energize our collective efforts I have called for and wholeheartedly endorse the Diocesan Visioning Process. I call you who are leaders in our diocese and in our parishes as well as all who are members of our parishes to participate in this visioning process.
Most important of all is that we truly listen to the movement and power of the Holy Spirit, that we hear with the mind and heart of the church and that we strive significantly to grow as a faith community in our fidelity to the Lord and to his vision for our church in our world. I ask you all to pray ardently during this year of planning and preparation so that at the end of the year a very helpful plan for the priorities for the diocese and the parishes can be established and begin to be implemented over the next three to five years. It is important that this plan assist us in being more thorough and eager through our discipleship to bring forth the mission of the Gospel to the world.
Thank you very much for your prayers and participation.