March 2017 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It is hard to imagine a time of more intense public division over issues of national governance, morality, social justice, personal freedom, the sanctity of life and even the preservation of the earth our common home. These are times that bring us to a deep realization of the strength of faith. We realize that however polarized the politics of the day may be, the ministry of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is consistent, universal and allembracing.
At turbulent times like these, it helps to remind ourselves that the Church as a community of faith is a living missionary body. We are here to serve others, as Christ continuously inspires us to do. In the remarkably efficient words of Saint Peter describing Jesus as our model -- "He went about doing good." (Acts 10:38). How perfectly simple and powerful a message. This remains our aspiration, whatever the challenges of this increasingly complex world. We are here to serve. Here to love. Here to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. This is our universal calling. This is the path to a fulfilling life. It is toward this mission that "our faith calls us to action."
I am looking forward to attending the annual diocesan Ministry Fair this weekend. For a few hours under one roof, representatives of twenty five diocesan ministries, volunteers, sponsors, donors, clergy advisors and friends of the diocese will have an opportunity to recognize each other's extraordinary call to action. It is always a reawakening, even to those of us so close to the full network of ministries, to see the breadth of services and kindness provided to those most in need. This would include our extended diocesan mission in Haiti, the poorest of all countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Gathered together at this event of thanksgiving and renewed commitment will be your dedicated Catholic Charities team who provide social and behavioral health service, food and shelter, immigration assistance and life counseling support to thousands of our neighbors each year. Also represented will be the St. Vincent de Paul missions in Norwich and Middletown who feed the hungry and help find shelter for those on the edge of being homeless. Other vital ministries such as the Catholic Foundation and the Diocesan School Office will be recognized as being right there on the front lines helping make a quality education accessible to as many young people in the diocese as possible. Here is an opportunity as well to appreciate how the Hispanic Ministry helps reach out in so many ways to the growing Hispanic and Latino population in the diocese and in the Universal Church. The ministry list is long and gratifying.
We are immensely grateful to every contributor to the Annual Catholic Appeal for supporting so many ways to show our love of neighbor. We are blessed to have so many at work trying to follow the Christian example to "go about doing good."
Lent is now upon us. The spirit of sacrifice, so central to this Holy Season, provides a fitting connection to the giving efforts of all engaged in lifting lives. Somewhere within our considerable geography as a diocese, there is an expectant mother faced with the decision of her life and the life of her unborn child; somewhere unseen to most of us is an elderly person whose loneliness is calling to us -- and we will answer that call thanks to your kindness and compassion as an ACA contributor; somewhere is a neighbor you may know, but have no idea they are in need of food or utility assistance to survive the winter. The ministries you support reach those who might otherwise be left in crisis, unnoticed in their time of need. Your generosity is a life-saver for many neighbors you will never meet. Please never for a second underestimate the good you do for others. May God bless you for your sacrifice and your strength of faith.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, speaks of Lent as a “favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.”
God bless your good and faithful service to one another. Thank you profoundly for opening so many doors and helping so many.Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,
Bishop Michael R. Cote