As I face my computer to write these few words, I am struck by several factors. The first is the beautiful rain hitting the window behind my computer screen, reminding me that God always provides. Perhaps the task is for us to accommodate ourselves to his timing.
The second is that while I have been with you as your bishop for only four months, it has been a time of untold blessings for me. Ordinations, confirmations, a wonderful visit to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, an extensive time reviewing the Hays area schools, our diocesan 125th anniversary, priest funerals, several major parish celebrations, gatherings of the Kansas Catholic Conference, our “Fortnight for Freedom” rally in Topeka and a host of every kind of meeting don’t begin to exhaust what blurs together in the last four months of my calendar.
However, what stands out most is the warmth, compassion and welcome I continue to experience as I walk among you. A sense of gratitude for where God has brought me continues to deepen in my heart daily.
Another topic very dear to me is vocations. While the need for ordained priests stands out prominently in my mind, I pray daily, as well, for vocations to the vowed religious life, sacramental marriage, the diaconate and those called to embrace the single life. Each of those vocations reflects the Gospel as well as the kingdom of God it proclaims.
Because we are in a year dedicated to discernment and prayer for vocations, I am asking that you commit, if at all possible, to a weekly Rosary for vocations. While there are many good and concrete acts we can undertake to foster vocations, our efforts are always best when they begin with prayer. Prayer draws us near to God and opens our eyes to his blessings all around us. Prayer also invigorates us to be God’s instruments in the world. I am absolutely convinced that prayer will help us to see clearly how God is already at work in his Church, as well as how we can help further his kingdom.
To assist with the vocation effort, our diocese recently recorded a “Rosary for Vocations” on compact disc. Several members of our diocesan church lead the various decades of the rosary, focusing on the luminous mysteries. Ten copies of the “Rosary for Vocations” CD have been sent to each parish of our diocese. I have suggested that they be given out by the pastor to parishioners who will agree to a weekly Rosary for vocations throughout the current year.
Know that my prayers for you always begin with a word of gratitude to God for the gift you are, and they always end by asking that God bring to completion the tremendous good works begun in you. I kindly ask that you please remember in prayer the youth of our Church and the need for each of us to respond generously to God’s call, for there are always blessings in store for those who say “yes” to the Lord.