We have a lot going on in the Diocese of Lansing as well as in your parishes! In 2012 we began, as a diocese, to reflect on the Church’s call to us to Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord. We are currently in the second year of building up the Household of Faith as a way to get us ready to announce that Gospel. We first need to encounter Christ, to engage our practicing Catholic sisters and brothers in prayer and faith-sharing and thus become more welcoming parishes. We need to become better disciples of the Lord. Obviously, this holy work is not completed in two years or a hundred. Nonetheless, this fall we will also focus on how to bring back our lost sheep, our loved ones who have wandered from the fold, that is, how do we become missionary disciples. So, we are getting ready for a great assembly to develop some skills to bring back those whom God has called by name in their baptism. Please keep these efforts in your prayers.
Last year, we began a Faith in Flint initiative with the naming of Father Tom Firestone as the pastor-leader of four of our youngest clergy, who invite all in the city of Flint to a deepening of faith, hope and love. This sign of unity, seen in the working together of four of the city parishes, is what we do best as Catholics – we look at the wider situation and are not limited to our own parishes. There is also the cooperation with our Catholic High School (Powers) and our Catholic hospital and Catholic Charities and the N.E.W. Life Center, all of which are additionally caught up now in addressing the water situation in Flint. Our first response, rooted in prayer and faith, is to be agents of mercy as we seek to give drink to the thirsty.
A third initiative is conducting the first Capital Campaign ever held in the Diocese of Lansing. Apparently, there are only 10 dioceses in the United States that have never had such a major fundraiser, and we are one of them. Now I know many may not think of the diocese very often, but this is an opportunity for all of us to grow in stewardship, especially since the largest component will help each of our parishes, and also will grow us in our Catholic vision, reminding us that we belong to a wider Church and that we can do things together that we cannot do apart. We are still working on the case statement for the campaign and plan to have three parish waves taking us through to the end of 2017.
Of course, we will continue with this year’s DSA appeal, to which many of you have already contributed, to fund the regular ongoing ministries of the diocese. Thanks so much for your generous hearts!
In addition, we are now in the Year of Mercy. We have a portal of mercy in our cathedral in Lansing, where we invite you to make a pilgrimage so as to leave a record of your acts of mercy, and to seek the plenary indulgence made available to us in the Holy Father’s proclamation of this Year of Mercy. Lent is a wonderful occasion for us to seek what the Heavenly Father is intensely eager to give us – his mercy, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation. If it has been a while, come back home – the light is on for you.
This all reminds me that the final words of the Code of Canon Law (#1752) are these: “the salvation of souls, which in the Church must always be the supreme law.” All that we do is to cooperate with God to bring us and all our sisters and brothers to heaven. Let that, my sisters and brothers, be our prayer during this Lenten season both for ourselves and for one another.