Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”
These are God’s words to Joshua, Moses’ successor, and they are a fitting reminder this month as many priests around the diocese take up new assignments and as parishes continue planning for the transition to Area Catholic Communities. Just as the Lord accompanied the Israelites as they settled into a new land, he is with us today during this time of new beginnings.
Change isn’t always easy. There are challenges — some we can prepare for, some of which are unexpected. But God is always with us and gives us hope. And there is much to be hopeful for as we look to the future of our diocese:
• In June, I had the joy of ordaining eight men for our diocese — three to the priesthood, two to the permanent diaconate, and three to the transitional diaconate. The latter three, God willing, will be ordained priests next year. All are men of prayer and service with a deep love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They will serve our parish communities well. Please pray for them and our priests who are beginning new assignments this summer.
• The diocese, in partnership with the St. John’s School of Theology, is beginning the Emmaus Institute, a four-year formation program for lay leadership ministry and potential Latino/Hispanic diaconal candidates from the diocese. This will greatly benefit our parishes and Area Catholic Communities.
• I’m pleased that we U.S. bishops, at our mid-June meeting in Baltimore, voted to implement the norms contained in Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” (“You are the light of the world”) to help keep the Church’s members safe. We also authorized a third-party system to receive reports of abuse against bishops and a code of conduct that holds bishops accountable to the provisions of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” These measures will further improve accountability and transparency in the Church.
• Judge Elizabeth Hayden, chair of our Diocesan Review Board, was recently appointed as a member of the National Review Board, which advises the U.S. bishops’ committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection. Judge Hayden, a retired district court judge and member of St. Mary’s Cathedral, will bring a wealth of expertise, experience and integrity to the national board. She will be a great help to our Church as it continues its work to foster a culture of protection and healing.
I hope you have a blessed summer filled with opportunities for leisure, rest and time with loved ones. And don’t forget about your relationship with Christ during the summertime. Carve out time for him, too, through continued Sunday Mass attendance, spiritual reading, a retreat experience or service opportunities.
Remember, wherever you go, whatever you do, and whatever changes and challenges you may face — this summer or in the future — God is with you, loves you and is always by your side to offer his strength and guidance.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud