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United in Hope - Bishop's June/July Column

Posted on June 08, 2021 in: Reflections

United in Hope - Bishop's June/July Column

June/July 2021 Four County Catholic

United in Hope

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Recently I was thinking of my dear friend, Monsignor Brown, who only a few short years ago was suddenly called from us to eternal rest. He believed that through the strength of faith “we live in hope.” His words were never more appropriate than now as we face this next chapter in our lives, as we, like the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, boldly venture out into the world.

Now is the time to celebrate! We once again are called together in community for Sunday Mass. We live in hope that the worst of the health crisis is behind us. Many pastors have informed me that the attendance on Pentecost was the largest they have seen in a year.

We have another reason to celebrate. On May 27th I had the pleasure of ordaining an exceptional young man, Jacob Ramos, to the transitional diaconate. Jacob was guided in his journey of discernment by many individuals, not the least of which was Fr. Gregory Galvin, outgoing Director of Priestly vocations.

Fr. Greg has served me and the diocese well in this role for 14 years. I am grateful for his service to the many young men whose vocations as priests began with a simple question - “What is God asking of you?”

The first young man that Fr. Galvin spoke with after becoming vocation director in 2007 was Jonathan Ficara. Better known now to his parishioners and the many college students that he ministers to as Fr. Jonathan Ficara, I have recently appointed him as the new Director of Priestley Vocations. I look forward to working with Fr. Jonathan as he goes about gathering workers for our corner of the vineyard.

June is such an exhilarating time of hope and promise as we embrace the continuing joy of the Easter Season and the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is a season bursting with enthusiasm as seen in the faces of those young men and women who, in the final Sacrament of Initiation, will be sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.

We are blessed to live in a Country offering us the freedom and opportunity to practice our faith and thrive as a nation under God.

By natural right from God and by protection of the U. S. Constitution, we are endowed with religious freedom for all. The First Amendment to the Constitution, providing the freedom to believe and practice one’s religion or no religion as per one’s conscience, is considered our country’s first freedom. We cannot afford to be complacent about preserving and defending this first right.

This last year has shown us that we must remain vigilant. Keeping our churches and schools open was an important exercise of the freedom of thought and conscience.

With your support we were able to keep our ministries open to assist the poor, the hungry, those seeking education and the truth, the orphaned, the infirmed, the immigrant, the defenseless unborn and our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. The First Amendment assures us of the freedom to serve others in God’s love.

As the world remains troubled and unsettled, we bishops of the United States have once again organized Religious Freedom Week from June 22 - June 29. Catholics across the United States are encouraged to pray and act in support of religious liberty. The very appropriate theme for this week of intense focus on religious liberty is “Solidarity in Freedom.”

Each day of Religious Freedom Week we are being asked to reflect, pray, and act on specific areas of religious freedom. A brief one-page guide will be posted daily on the diocesan website and Facebook page.

It is a special and timely opportunity to learn of the infringements we must recognize and defend against. Every instance of endangerment to our first freedom is critical.

Be sure to let your elected representatives know how important this cause is to each of you.

Almighty God, Father of all nations, we praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties. By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.

United in hope. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich

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