All Saints Day took on a new meaning for me in 2009. Yes, it was four years ago on this date that I found myself driving alone from Missouri to Wyoming to begin a new chapter of life. On November 2, 2009 I would assume my new position as the Director of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The economic downturn had made it difficult to sell our home in Missouri, and my family remained behind as I ventured out west. I had no idea that I would be uprooted from my family for a year before we would finally be reunited.
The challenges that are faced when we embark upon new endeavors can be quite daunting. I never imagined that so many obstacles could arise from so many different avenues, but arise they did. Eventually, we were able to meet each of those difficulties and overcome the setbacks and tribulations that plagued our path. Was it easy? Definitely not! Was it worth it? Absolutely!
I spent some time today reflecting upon what has transpired over the last four years. Obviously, family dynamics were a huge part of the transition process--changing schools, leaving jobs and acquiring new ones, leaving friends and hoping to gain new ones, leaving most of our family members and going to where we knew no one, and a whole list of other things. This was no small undertaking. The support of my family is what enabled me to make this transition.
What have I experienced in four years as the Director of Pastoral Ministries? It has been a multitude of things and much of it has been new experiences. That has helped me to continue to grow in my walk with the Lord, and for that I am extremely grateful. I glanced back through my calendar from the last four years and these are some highlights that caught my eye.
1. Canonically assigned to the Cathedral of St. Mary as a deacon. What a privilege that has been!
2. Received the opportunity to preach on a rotating basis at the Cathedral. Awesome!
3. Have had the opportunity to present catechetical workshops in all but just a few parishes across the entire state of Wyoming. Some that I have not yet been to are on the calendar.
4. Have led three parish missions and have another one on the calendar in February.
5. Have been a guest homilist at numerous parishes across the diocese.
6. Have been the homilist at several of the liturgies when we gather for our annual institutes with clergy and lay leadership.
7. Have led several parish staff retreats and days of spiritual enrichment.
8. Have led several retreats and workshops for parish pastoral councils.
9. Continue to lead an annual RCIA retreat for several parishes.
10. Have led retreats and days of recollection for numerous groups including the Knights of Columbus, the Council of Catholic Women, and others.
11. On August 11, 2010 I was appointed Superintendent of Catholic Schools. What a learning experience that has been!
12. This role has given me the opportunity to lead staff development workshops for our Catholic school faculties all across the state. If weather and my schedule permit, it also lets me travel 1,200 miles across the state to visit the schools during Catholic Schools Week.
13. Have been serving as the diocesan director for the Propagation of the Faith. Working with missionaries coming into the diocese to give mission appeals has also been a new experience.
14. Have worked with people engaged in legislative advocacy work and have testified before several committees at the state capitol on behalf of life and religious liberty.
15. Have become involved in events that take place on December 21 each year for "Homeless Memorial Day."
16. I work closely with many groups on life events. This includes Life Chain each year on the first Sunday of October, our state's pro-life march to the capitol each January on the Saturday nearest the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, an annual banquet, and much more. I work closely with the Knights of Columbus to acquire ultra-sounds machines for our crisis pregnancy centers across the state. That has been an extremely successful project and has borne great fruit.
17.There have been several opportunities for me to be the keynote speaker at life events and conferences in Casper, Cheyenne, as well as Fort Collins, Colorado.
18. Numerous opportunities to work with a homeless shelter in Cheyenne and other agencies serving the needs of people who are struggling.
19. Opportunities to teach come along in a variety of ways--adult confirmation classes, RCIA, youth retreats and more.
20. Lastly, I have the opportunity to experience Cheyenne Frontier Days each July. There is nothing in Missouri that can compare with Cheyenne Frontier Days. (To be fair, Wyoming doesn't have the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team though.)
The blessings that have come to me during these last four years are too numerous to count. As I continue to travel across the diocese and meet more and more people all across the state and experience the hospitality of the west, all I can say is, "Thank you."
All you holy men and women, pray for us!