Bishop: Merry Christmas and a richly Blessed New Year 2022!
December 23, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
Some nine months before Jesus was born, Mary hastened to be with her pregnant and senior cousin, Elizabeth. In the joyful outburst of their encounter, Elizabeth exclaims, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).
God’s promise is only partially fulfilled in the birth of Jesus at Christmas. We join with the shepherds and angels in the seasonal hymns that all declare, “God has visited his people!” God is forever Emmanuel, with us in all the burdens and blessings that accompany our human path toward perfect peace. Jesus is the favor bestowed on Mary who delivers us from all that would cloud our vision, chill our charity, and bury hope.
As the ordeal of the pandemic persists, I continue to encounter persons who sense that God is fulfilling his plan amid the mixed evidence of our time. I am blessed to consider myself among their company. Our parishes, Diocese, and larger communities remain “pregnant” with possibilities and signs that portend even greater joy, spiritual solidarity and fruitfulness.
The outpouring of support from diocesan parishes for the St. Mary Parish, Hamburg, Iowa, faith formation center project is one such sign. The significant amount of time spent this fall sharing and listening in groups as part of our diocesan strategic visioning process is another. Thanks to so many of you who took part; you have helped give birth to a new chapter in the story of Catholic faith in Southwest Iowa. You are all God’s gift to us.
As I offer gratitude and Christmas Mass for our entire diocesan family, I make two modest appeals—and no, they do not involve money! One, I invite you to take part in a brief survey in various languages that will round out our visioning consultation with the faithful during Masses at your local parish the weekend of January 8-9, 2022, or anytime online on our diocesan website. We need to hear of your joys and disappointments, your hopes and priorities for our diocesan future.
Second, I invite you to join in prayer that the God who visits us at Christmas will grace us with clear vision of his will for the way forward. The group of women and men who have responded to the call to help shape this vision rely on God’s Spirit given in response to our mutual prayers. May we continue to pray each day the prayer that follows below all from this Christmas through next Pentecost, when we aim to share with you our diocesan strategic plan.
Thank you for being prayer champions for us. Merry Christmas and a richly Blessed New Year 2022!