Looking ahead in the New Year
I hope that you and those you love experienced many graces during the Advent and Christmas Seasons. Celebrating my second Christmas in western South Dakota was a blessing for me. After a year and a half as your bishop, I’m feeling settled in and have enjoyed meeting many of you.
As we begin a new year, we have much to be grateful for and much to look forward to. We have faced significant challenges because of the pandemic and I am thankful for the many ways the members of our diocese have brought prayerful determination and creative energy to bear during the past months. You can see in the annual report on diocesan finances featured on pages 12-13 in this issue that we were able to meet our responsibilities because of your ongoing support and with the assistance of the PPP loans/grants that we qualified for. Thank you for everything you do to help us as a diocese. Going forward, your financial gifts to the diocese will be even more important since we will not be able to depend on PPP loans in the future.
Our diocese will be participating in the Synod process that Pope Francis has called the universal church to engage in over the next two years. Providentially, we had just begun a planning process as a diocese to explore how we can better proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in western South Dakota. Please support your parish priest and parish leaders as they seek your input. The intention of the Synod is to make sure that we are reaching out to those on the margins of parish life, including the inactive and the poor, so that we can listen to their needs. My hope is that we can listen to each other more effectively and renew our parish and diocesan community of faith.
Another important initiative that will unfold over the next three years is a National Eucharistic Revival. (See page 4) This Eucharistic Revival is the strategic plan of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the next three years beginning with the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Sunday, June 19, 2022). The first year of the revival will focus on celebrating the Eucharist and devotion of the Eucharist on the diocesan level. Plans are being made for a special Sunday Mass at the Cathedral with a Eucharistic Procession from the Cathedral to Main Street Square on June 19. Other diocesan and deanery celebrations are in the planning stages. The second year of the revival will focus on the Eucharist as the source and summit of parish life across the diocese. This year will lead into a national year of revival that will culminate in a National Eucharistic Congress that will gather 100,000 Catholics from around the country to bear witness to the power of the Eucharist as the central prayer and lifeblood of the church. At this event participants will receive special training to prepare them to return to their home dioceses as Eucharistic Missionaries.
God has many great things planned for us as the Catholic community in western South Dakota. I ask your prayers for these important initiatives. Let us pray that our life in Christ as a diocese will be renewed as we reach out to those at the margins, listen to each other, and refocus our attention on the Lord in his powerful Eucharistic presence!