A blessed Easter to all of you! At Easter Sunday Mass we all heard these words spoken by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles:
“You know…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil … We are witnesses of all that he did ... This man God raised on the third day ... He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God.” (36-42)
OK, witnesses, let’s go out there and testify!
Two years ago, our diocese held an assembly of some 850 leaders from all of our parishes to find ways to build up our believing communities into disciples of Jesus Christ. While we are clearly only scratching the surface in these activities, we are ready to take on another challenge, which, in fact, will strengthen our discipleship. We are ready to reach out to those who have wandered from the flock of Jesus Christ.
On Holy Thursday last month, our parish representatives at the Cathedral Mass for the blessings of the sacred oils received a letter from me announcing the next diocesan assembly this fall. We expect some 3,000 participants from our parishes to learn how to be missionary disciples, how to reach out to the Lost Sheep and call them by name back home to the Church. I hope to welcome many of you to that gathering.
The building up of our faith communities must continue, but now this will be an added mission of Christ which we will embrace. We will become witnesses. What we will learn this fall builds on what we have been practicing these past two years. It is all the work of the Holy Spirit.
Where we have encouraged prayer groups to be formed, we are now adding to the task of intercession for those who have fallen away. Where we have been developing more opportunities for encounters with Christ in our parishes, we are now asking you to witness to these encounters to the Lost Sheep. Where we have formed small discipleship groups in our parishes, we are now seeking to accompany those whose ties to the Church have been frayed. And finally, where we have been creating a welcoming environment in our parishes, we are now forming our disciples so that they are able to invite others to return to Mother Church.
My sisters and brothers, the risen Jesus has given us this mission. The Holy Spirit has empowered us for this mission. Please pray that we may be worthy of this great trust, and that all of us will be better equipped to get out there and testify that indeed Jesus is Lord!