January 2018 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As a new year is now upon us, we realize that the challenges we face in these interesting times do not lessen from year to year. Fortunately, our faith shared in community with one another, empowers us to embrace the promise of new beginnings. It is time to take personal spiritual inventory, to learn and grow from past missteps and positive experiences too. It is an exhilarating time of opportunity for a fresh start.
Recently, in delivering a homily while visiting Myanmar, His Holiness Pope Francis urged the more than 150,000 gathered and the world listening to be guided by the Lord’s wisdom and love. The Holy Father spoke of God’s love metaphorically as a “spiritual GPS” that “unfailingly guides us toward the inner life of God and the heart of neighbor.” What a perfect reminder for us to look to the wisdom and guidance of the Lord and His Church as we begin the journey of this new year. Relying exclusively on our own resources, our own compass, our own circle of advisors won’t get us there. To find our way through the trials of everyday 21st century life to true fulfillment, happiness, reconciliation, peace, truth and the joy of helping our fellow travelers, we must look to God’s wisdom and guidance. Therein lies the divine GPS map that is “unfailingly” accurate.
One of the transitions we are experiencing in the diocese is the pulling together of a number of parishes into merged communities of faith. I have been very closely involved, as have all Bishops across the Country, in diocesan planning to ensure going forward that we emerge as a stronger, more secure and pastorally well-ministered spiritual community. Change is unsettling. New directions can be difficult to navigate. This is why we must focus on the Holy Spirit’s GPS guidance to be sure we adjust responsibly to the challenge of change in today’s world. Standing still is not an option if we are to continue to thrive in our faith. I am so grateful and truly heart-warmed to see how you have been adapting with love and understanding.
I am also grateful for your continuing prayers and support for our diocese-wide efforts to recruit young men to discern the holy service of the priesthood which will further strengthen and secure our parish ministries over the years ahead.
Outside the transitions we are experiencing in our respective parishes, there is a rather robust set of challenges facing us this new year as faithful Catholics and citizens of this great Nation. We share social justice concerns of great consequence. These require close and informed attention. Among them is immigration reform affecting the young dreamers, millions of undocumented families and their prospects for citizenship, and refugees seeking asylum from tyranny and terrorism. Every opportunity to help influence Congressional leadership must be taken. Every opportunity to assist those vulnerable right here in our diocese must be taken. Every opportunity to influence public opinion in favor of protecting our immigrant brothers and sisters in this nation of immigrants must be taken. Standing by silently is not an option.
The Catholic Dioceses in Connecticut stand together and speak with a united voice with respect to the plight of the immigrant in today’s America. We are assisted in our vigilance by the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference who help keep us all apprised of pending legislation in Congress and invite our participation in having our voices heard. At the moment, we have been strongly focused on the status of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Please visit the Conference’s website, ctcatholic.org, to keep informed on this important topic. Information is available there in English and Spanish.
In 2018, our faith also calls us to continue the fight to save the lives of the unborn who need our voice to protect them. The prospects for moving our society further in the direction of the culture of life is before us. Let us march for life and pray for life unceasingly in this new year.
Spend more time with your families this year. Become more involved with your parish ministries. Support the good works of the diocesan ministries who are an extension of living your faith by helping lift lives in need. Take time to pray. Be active and faithful citizens. Share in the blessings of the Eucharist. Make 2018 a year of new beginnings. Take a step closer to Jesus. Feel the warmth of His love and the strength of His support. These are not your typical New Year’s resolutions. These are New Year’s revelations. Living our faith more vigorously as the social challenges persist will make a difference. We can transform our lives and the lives and dignity of our brothers and sisters. Believe in the transforming ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
God specializes in new beginnings.
A blessed New Year,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael R. Cote