Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Of the many things I’m grateful for this year, I want to name the following three in a special way.
First, the priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. We’ve been engaged together these past several years in the major task of reshaping the footprint of the archdiocese. Their fidelity, willingness and creativity — and honestly, just their brotherhood — have been sources of strength for me. I hope you’ll join me in being thankful for their priesthood and for them as individuals.
Second, the people of the archdiocese. The generosity of the people here never ceases to amaze me — and I don’t mean principally financial generosity. Yes, the financial generosity of the people of the archdiocese is amazing. But, truly, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg is a deep well of personal warmth and generosity. Maybe only someone who comes from outside the area — like me — can truly appreciate it. But I have seen it and been welcomed by it. I’m thankful for all of you!
Third, the task we’ve been given in this time and place. It’s not an easy task, to be sure! But God has given it to us, and I’m grateful we’re in it together. It makes me think of times in the Bible when God was trying to teach His people something new. Those times were never easy. But later generations looked back on the time of growth with a touch of envy: “Would that we had lived in such momentous times!” Well, we’re living in such a time!
I think, too, of soldiers, spouses, teams and friends who have gone through something hard. Afterward, it wasn’t the difficulty of the experience as much as the “being in it together” that they remembered, which continued to warm their hearts. I think our hearts are being forged together as we walk through parish changes. Therefore, although it’s not easy, I’m grateful for it.
Think back to some technological changes when things were still getting sorted out. The choice between 8-track and cassette tapes for audio recording. The choice between VHS and Beta for video recording. The choice between 5¼- and 3½-inch floppy disks for data storage. We’re going through something like that when it comes to parishes and evangelization these days. It’s a time of experimentation; it’s not entirely clear what the best methods will turn out to be. In fact — as with the examples I just gave — what ends up working best may not be on our radar yet! But we’re trying new things out. Unlike with technology, the answer isn’t going to be the same in every case. But I believe that, between the priests and the people of the archdiocese, we’ll figure it out.
There are many discouraging things in the world today. But, amid them all, I remain encouraged because I believe we’re in God’s hands and because I see God at work in the priests and the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. So, this week finds me hopeful and thankful. God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving!