Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
"Many reasons for giving thanks"
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the Nov. 11, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
As I write this, it is just short of two months since my installation as your bishop. Yet, I can honestly say there are already many reasons to give thanks to God and to you. Here are my Top 10:
1. Families and Children. It never fails. Spokane is now the fifth diocese in which I have served as a priest and there really is no better gauge of the health of a community than the relative vitality of families. I have very much enjoyed meeting a good number of parents and their children and I want to make their health and stability one of my main priorities.
2. Priests, Seminarians and Deacon Couples. We are blessed with talented, dedicated and fervent priests in this diocese. The week after I was installed I spent a few days with them at our annual convocation and came away very impressed by the high quality of these men. The same can be said of our seminarians, and they are a special sign of hope for me in the years ahead. The presence of a strong deacon community is a source of encouragement to me and I look forward to working with these faith-filled couples.
3. Religious Women and Men. I have personally benefitted from the ministry of Religious communities over the years. I was taught by Benedictine and Franciscan Sisters in grade and high school. Religious men contributed significantly to the development of my spiritual life. I could not be more pleased by the number of Religious we have in Eastern Washington, working in our hospitals, schools and a variety of other ministries.
4. Retreat Center. One of my last initiatives in my former diocese was the establishment of a retreat center. I come here fully aware of the great blessing it is to have our Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center, which already has a proven tradition and sound spiritual program. It is also a center for many diocesan events and programs and I was pleased on one of my first visits to join a group of young people on a Search retreat there.
5. Catholic Schools and Religious Education Programs. Catholic education is not a luxury. It is central to the mission of the Church. I want to encourage all of our teachers, religious education leaders, catechists and everyone involved in Catholic education to know that you have my full support and appreciations.
6. Gonzaga University. It was not hard to figure out from the first day of my installation that this wonderful Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus plays an important part in the life of the Church. I am particularly pleased that the new president, Dr. Thayne McCulloh, and I are beginning our leadership roles together. The university can count on me being a good friend.
7. Catholic Charities. Simply put, the women and men associated with Catholic Charities help us all put the Church’s best foot forward. The expansive reach of this organization is admirable and makes us all proud to be Catholics.
8. Catholic Hospitals. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council said it best: The sufferings of the people of our time are the sufferings of the followers of Christ as well. The healing that takes place in our hospitals goes far beyond the physical, simply because those caring for the sick are faith-filled people, who wake up each day concerned about others. The entire civic community is well-served by these dedicated professionals. They and their founding Orders are an example to us all.
9. Diversity. Early on the morning I was installed, members of the Hispanic community greeted me at the front door of the cathedral rectory with a Las Mañanitas celebration. At the installation Mass itself, members of our Indian tribes blessed us with the smudging rite, asking God to purify and protect us. The rich traditions of diverse cultures reveal the face of God in our midst, and I want to do everything to encourage the sharing of gifts found in various heritages.
10. Stewardship and Support. Admittedly, the Diocese of Spokane is facing some difficult financial and institutional challenges. But so many have stuck with the Church, and there is reason to be proud of this response. You will see more on the results of the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal on page 24. I just want to say thanks here to all of you who supported the diocese this year. There still is time to help your parish make its goal with an end of the year gift, if you are interested.
There surely are many more reasons for me to give thanks this Thanksgiving, but I share these with you to let you know I have noticed all you have done. In the end, I will just say, I thank God for the blessing of being your bishop.
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