What does it mean to be “Catholic”? This is a very timely and perhaps loaded question to ask in our modern society, especially as we see politicians, entertainers, athletes, and other influential people who publicly profess to be Catholic, yet their voting record and the policies they support, the content of their music and movies, and their lifestyle choices would seem to prove otherwise. This situation can be very confusing to many people. Read more
“Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. … May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.” Read more
The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature. —Pope Francis, 9/25/15, United Nations
What does ‘respect life’ mean?
The first Sunday of each October launches the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) annual education and advocacy effort to “promote respect for all human life from conception to natural death, and organize for its protection.” Before mentioning the theme and topics of this year’s program, it may benefit us to reflect on the meaning of the phrase “respect life.” Read more
I recently received a letter of thanks from the Catholic Relief Services for the $17,414 raised through our participation in the Lenten Rice Bowl program. While we do so much to assist those in need in southern Missouri, it‘s impressive to see our witness to our concern for the poor reach the countries of Africa, for example. Through our support in Rice Bowl, farmers are being trained in innovative methods that improve harvests and prevent crop disease. Ultimately, we are ensuring that people will have enough food to eat, which is a corporal work of mercy. We should be proud!
I recently invited a group of Poor Clare sisters to open a convent in our diocese. Mother Mary Giovanna, of the Poor Clare Nuns in Belleville, IL, wrote back: “We would be happy to establish a monastery in your diocese. If you could send us 10 young ladies with Poor Clare vocations … and give us about 10 years to form them. …” While I detected a hint of sarcasm in Mother Giovanna’s letter, I do believe the vocations are out there.
As we gather throughout the diocese at so many parish altars, it is from the altar that we encounter Christ in the Eucharist and we become One Church, East to West. This year, together as the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, we celebrate 60 years of blessings, 60 years of meeting the challenges of building up the Kingdom of God throughout the 39 counties and 25,619 square miles that make up the Church in Southern Missouri. Read more
As you read this column, I am well into my Road Rally 2016, “On the Road, Again!” So far, I have visited almost 50 of our parishes and missions where I have celebrated Holy Mass, led the Rosary, or offered a prayer service, sharing my thoughts on our Shared Vision of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
Upon my arrival to the diocese, I had no idea that my predecessor, Bp. Johnston, had established an Envisioning Team and had embarked on an 18-month process in order to better focus the mission and intentions of the Diocese. The process included regional listening sessions that were held throughout the diocese in order to hear what the faithful thought our priorities should be as a diocese. After learning of all the hard work, effort, and time put into this “(En)vision quest,” I concluded that it is only right to honor the good work of the committee.
I received a letter in June from the Provincial Prioress of the Ursuline Nuns informing me that the three Ursuline Sisters who currently reside and minister in Cape Girardeau will be leaving the Diocese of Springfield-Cape-Girardeau at the end of the summer. We’re losing a very precious piece of our history as a diocese, as the Ursulines have been in southern Missouri since before our official founding in 1956.
In a matter of weeks, we will say good-bye to Sr. Theresa Davey, OSU, who has ministered at St. Vincent de Paul Parish with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and the St. Vincent de Paul outreach ministry to the poor; Sr. Mary Ellen Neeves, OSU, who has tutored students in the cathedral parish, volunteered at St. Mary Food Pantry, and been very involved in Love, Inc., which offers services to the poor of the area; and Sr. Marianne Mullen, OSU, who makes home visits to parishioners, takes Holy Communion to residents in a local home for the elderly, and participates in faith-sharing groups at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
As many of you recall, Bp. James Johnston embarked on a “Road Rally” in 2014 with the intention of visiting every parish within 17 days. During each visit, he shared with everyone gathered the Mutually Shared Vision for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Our Sacred Purpose is clear, “… to joyfully live our Catholic faith as intentional disciples, leading all to a full life in Jesus Christ.” Our three guiding values as disciples are “prayer, generous service, and enthusiasm.” Our five-year vision is “One Church, East to West: Loving Jesus, Serving Jesus, and Sharing Jesus.” Finally, our three priorities are “Grow in Holiness; Form Intentional Disciples, and being Sent to Witness.” I am grateful to Bp. Johnston for his visionary leadership for the diocese. Read more
Many of us are familiar with the month of May being dedicated to Mary. As a child, I recall a little “May Altar” in our classroom at school. Every day a different student was asked to bring a flower from home to place in front of the statue in the classroom. In my family home, my mom had a rather large photo of Our Lady of Perpetual Help above the mantle. October, too, is designated the “Month of the Rosary,” since the Feast of the Holy Rosary is Oct. 7. But July also has a Marian focus, as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel July 16.
“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
This little verse is a beautiful way to summarize the emotions of my heart. A special “thank you” to Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for his confidence in appointing me the seventh Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. I am grateful also to Msgr. Walter Erbì, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC, for arranging his schedule to be with us on the day of my Installation. Thanks also to our Metropolitan Abp. Robert Carlson for his leadership in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and for the privilege of working alongside him for the past five years. Abp. Carlson consecrated me to the Episcopacy and has been my mentor. His example has taught me what it means to be a gentle, loving shepherd to the people of God and words cannot express my deepest gratitude. Add to that my thanks for the talented and faith-filled members of the Curia who have been a constant source of inspiration.