There was a good crowd at our celebration of the Eucharist this morning. We had to set up additional tables for breakfast following Mass. We have people present from Cody and Powell who made the seven hour trek to join us. We have people from all across the state and a good contingent of people from northern Colorado as well. We continue to build a culture of life one step at a time.
We pray today for all those participating in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. May their faithful witness to the dignity and sacred value of each human life from conception through natural death be a blessing to our country.
I received the photo above of children playing during recess at one of our Catholic schools in Wyoming. The piled up snow from their playground created a fun space to play. It made me chuckle as I thought back to when I was principal of a school in Missouri. Playground monitors always made sure our students stayed away from any snow-covered areas during recess. It is a different perspective in Wyoming where the mound of snow becomes the ideal place to play.
We have many different perspectives in life based upon our education, background and life experiences. However, I think most of us can agree on the beauty of watching children play and having fun. Their joy and innocence is refreshing.
How can it be that we as a nation still have such a large percentage of people advocating for abortion rights? When the issue came to the forefront following the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, the assurances from the proponents of abortion rights were that they wanted abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. Compare that to their slogan now of, "Abortion on demand and without apology." Where does that perspective originate?
It is my hope and prayer that we will someday create a culture of life in which abortion becomes unthinkable. We still have a lot of work to do before that happens.
For my Cheyenne readers--
I will be leading a pro-life holy hour this evening (Friday) from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the Cathedral of St. Mary. We will have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a Scripture reading with a brief reflection, a rosary, and finally benediction.
Tomorrow's activities begin at 9:00 A.M. with Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary. A complimentary breakfast in Hartmann Hall will follow Mass. The program at the Depot begins at 11:00 A.M. the march begins at 12:00 noon sharp. Lunch is available at the Knights of Columbus Hall following the march.
The banquet tomorrow evening will feature Dr. Alveda King as the keynote speaker. (Tickets to the banquet had to be purchased in advance.)
"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever."
I had the privilege of being the opening speaker today at our local school choice event. It is important that we continue to improve the educational opportunities for our children at all levels. Having a variety of schooling options from which to choose creates some healthy competition. It should prompt each institution to strive for excellence.
Next week (beginning on Sunday) we celebrate the annual tradition of Catholic Schools Week. This is a time when we have the opportunity to "toot our own horn" in regard to the good things taking place in Catholic education. This week sometimes causes a little extra stress with activities that are a bit out of the norm. I simply offer a word of encouragement and gratitude to the teachers and administrators that make this week phenomenal. Your dedication to Catholic education is greatly appreciated.
Enjoy these photos of the official dance of "National School Choice Week" from today's event at St. Mary's Catholic School in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
There are times when I think I should have been more specific in my prayers when I prayed for patience. I never realized how many opportunities God would give me to learn this elusive virtue through the years. Apparently, I am also a slow learner. The opportunities continue to come my way.
Writing complete. Editing complete. Formatting and layout complete. Proofreading complete. Front and back cover design complete. Release date is scheduled for February 28. The only thing left is printing. I order five hundred books to have on hand for my speaking engagements. I am told my shipment will arrive in four to six weeks.
Six weeks pass and I still have no books. I contact the publisher to inquire about my order. I am told that there have been some delays because the company was moving some overseas operations back into the United States. After week seven passed I started getting concerned. Some research on the internet revealed numerous complaints against the company in the past couple of months. The Better Business Bureau and the state's attorney general had heard from quite a number of people. According to the internet Tate Publishing closed its doors last Friday.
An interview from a local television station in Oklahoma City said that the company had served over 39,000 authors through the years. The CEO said they had just not recovered since the economic downturn. He went on to say that the closing of the publishing company primarily impacts the several hundred authors who have works currently in progress. Unfortunately, I am one of those several hundred directly impacted. I seem to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Once I figure out what my next step will be, I'll let you know. Part of me thinks I need to pray for patience through all of this. The other part of me is scared to do that. It would simply be nice for things to flow smoothly just for a little bit.
I was invited to attend a "grief writing workshop" yesterday evening. While I have had some training in pastoral counseling and have had a significant amount of experience in hospital ministry, I had never had specific training in regard to writing and grief. Oh sure, I had heard things like, "Keep a journal." That does not exactly give you a lot to go on if you are unfamiliar with writing or with processing grief. Thus, I thought this training would enhance my ministry to others who are grieving. I was not disappointed.
The other attendees at the workshop were all experiencing grief from recent losses. I was at the workshop to learn how to be a better minister to others and was not really processing my own grief. However, the writing exercises required that I have a person in mind as I write. Although it has been over a year since mom died, I chose to focus on her. As I wrote, I began to revisit some of the memories from our last trip together just a little over a year before she died. Today, I went through some of those photos again. In four days it will be mom's birthday. She would be celebrating 93 years. I am grateful for the photos from our last trip.
I want to express my gratitude today to Pennie Hunt, the leader of our workshop. (www.penniehunt.com/) You walked us through an amazing process in a very brief amount of time. Your compassion and pastoral sensitivity toward those whose grief was fresh and deep was inspiring. May God bless you abundantly for your ministry of healing.
After being in Green River for parish missions in 2014 and 2015, I am looking forward to returning again in 2017. I missed seeing all of you in 2016.
I will be leading a mini-retreat/workshop on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 10:00 A.M. until noon for all those involved in parish ministries.
This will be a great way to begin our Lenten journey.
We are still finalizing a few of the details, but the schedule is mainly established for the Parish Mission in Wheatland, Wyoming. There may be some social gatherings added to the agenda, but overall, this is the main component of the mission.
While I have led a couple of workshops in previous years in Wheatland, this will be my first parish mission at St. Patrick. It will also be my first time to visit the mission church in Chugwater when I preach at the 11:00 A.M. Mass on March 26. I am looking forward to both experiences.
This is going to be an exciting Lent. I am now scheduled to lead four parish missions, preach at 13 Eucharistic liturgies, lead a women's retreat, speak at an Eagle Scout Recognition Banquet, and lead an RCIA retreat the week before Lent begins. Throw in my attendance at the monthly diaconate formation weekend, the day of recollection and Chrism Mass on April 6, and everything associated with Holy Week and I have a full calendar. In the midst of all of that I will still have to get my usual work completed.
Usually, I recuperate for a while after Easter. There won't be much time for that this year as I head to St. Patrick's Parish in Casper at the end of April to preach at the weekend Masses to kick-off the annual Living and Giving in Christ appeal. The weekend following that I head to the western side of the state to lead a men's retreat in Thayne, Wyoming. It appears I will have to make time for rest in June.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His mercy endures forever!
Whether or not you like Donald Trump is not the issue right now. The people who are calling for a disruption to the inauguration really need to think this through. If we cease to have safe and smooth transitions of power following an election our country is doomed. Please spend this week in prayer as we head toward the inauguration on Friday.
I am looking forward to going back to Our Lady of Fatima Parish for another Lenten Parish Mission. Last year was simply amazing. In addition to building upon what we did last year, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the appartions in Fatima, Portugal.
It is always a blessing when I am invited to preach at the weekend Eucharistic liturgies. That is a privilege I never take for granted. The Sunday Gospel Reading will remind us of the power of God as we hear the account of Jesus calling forth Lazarus from the dead. May each of us recognize clearly that Jesus is the "Resurrection and the Life."
Last year I especially enjoyed the evening meal each night before the start of the parish mission. This was a fabulous way to spend a little time with one another in friendship and fellowship. We are going to do that again this year. I am grateful for the many people who work behind the scenes to make these food and fellowship gatherings possible. The generous gift of your time and talent is appreciated.
On the last night of the mission this year we will have opportunities for individual prayer as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That will be a little change from last year. Following my presentation on Wednesday evening, we will have priests available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I will make myself available to pray individually with anyone who desires such prayer. I firmly believe in the Scripture which says, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) I will pray for you and with you so that there are two of us lifting up your particular need before the Lord. We pray in faith and confidence because of the assurance we have from Sacred Scripture that God will be in our midst as we pray. I have offered this at the conclusion of other parish missions in recent years and the movement of God in our midst has been astounding.
If you live in the Casper, Wyoming area please mark your calendars and plan to attend. It would be wonderful to see a church full of people each night. The blessings of participating in a Lenten Parish Mission are numerous. If you join us I assure you that the Lord will shower you with His abundant grace and the Holy Spirit will kindle within you the fire of His love. It doesn't get any better than that. See you in less than three months, Casper.
I attended a meeting yesterday to plan the liturgical season of Lent. The Christmas decorations have not all been removed from the church yet, but the work of planning should never stand still. As the Church entered into Ordinary Time this week after celebrating the Feast of The Baptism of the Lord on Monday, we know it is only a matter of seven weeks before the arrival of Ash Wednesday on March 1. Enjoy Ordinary Time while it lasts.
The term "Ordinary Time" has the potential to lead us into believing that these weeks of worship are less important than the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. After all, these weeks are just "ordinary." While we witness some changes in the church environment and adornment from season to season, we must recognize that each time we gather as a community of believers we are nurtured by the proclamation of God's Sacred Word and nourished by the Lord's Body and Blood as described so eloquently in John's Gospel chapter six. There is nothing ordinary about that awesome and beautiful privilege.
The rest of my January calendar is full. Diaconate formation, the annual clergy gathering known as the January Institute, pro-life events, and the beginning of Catholic Schools Week are all on the horizon. The month of February gives me a little reprieve before heading full blast into Lent on March 1.
On March 2, I have the honor of speaking at an Eagle Scout Recognition Banquet. This will be a first for me, but it fits well with one of the hats that I wear in my role as Director of Pastoral Ministries. In that role I serve as the Chaplain to Scouting in our diocese.
I will once again be part of the women's retreat at St. Joseph's Parish in Cheyenne on March 18. This is our third annual gathering. I will be sharing speaking responsibilities this year with Rose Guerrero from Pueblo, Colorado. It should be a magnificent day of retreat.
On March 22, I will preach at the closing Mass of a parish mission at the Cathedral of St. Mary. There will be a different homilist each night from March 20 through March 22. I hope to see my local readers (Cheyenne) there.
I will be preaching at the weekend Masses and giving a three night parish mission for the first time in Wheatland, Wyoming from March 25 through March 29. I am looking forward to being with the parishioners of St. Patrick during those days. Please note, I will also preach at Mary, Queen of Heaven Mission in Chugwater on Sunday, March 26, at 11:00 A.M.
For the second straight year I will be preaching at the weekend Masses and giving a three night parish mission at our Lady of Fatima Parish in Casper, Wyoming from April 1, through April 5. The mission last year was a wonderful experience and I am extremely grateful to be invited back again this year.
After that I will attend the Chrism Mass, another weekend of diaconate formation, and then we move into Holy Week. I am convince that it is going to be a powerful Lenten journey.
I hope to catch my breath briefly near the end of April before heading to Thayne, Wyoming for another new endeavor. I will be leading the Western Wyoming Men's Retreat from May 5--May 7. It should be beautiful spending some time in that part of the state with the dawning of spring.
If you find yourself experiencing a bit of sluggishness or feelings of malaise during these cold and overcast days of winter, take time to be with God in a very intentional way. You do not need to wait for the season of Lent to arrive to jumpstart your spiritual battery. We may be in Ordinary Time, but God's love is always extraordinary!
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