Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Fifteen months ago, the coronavirus upended our lives, putting our health at risk and forcing us to physically distance from one another in ways that disrupted our family, faith and work lives. We likely all know someone who contracted COVID-19, and too many of us also know someone whose health was severely impacted. As I write this, more than 580,000 people nationwide have died from the effects of the virus.
Thankfully, we have been turning the corner on this pandemic in Minnesota in recent months. Much of this can be credited to the effectiveness of mitigation protocols. I am grateful to everyone who has abided by these measures over the course of the last year. Adherence to physical-distancing and mask-wearing requirements in this diocese prevented more people from becoming ill and saved lives. Your observance of these requirements provided a wonderful witness to what our faith calls us to do: protect human life and care for the well-being of our neighbors.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccines is also a major reason we are able to return to a degree of normalcy in our state and our parishes. I encourage you to receive one of the available vaccines if you haven’t already. They are effective and, as I explained previously in the pages of this magazine, morally licit. Our continued progress against the virus is contingent on as many people as possible receiving the vaccine. In the meantime, please be sensitive to those who are not yet ready to return to all parish activities because of health or other concerns. We have learned new ways of reaching out to others via livestreaming, Zoom and similar technologies, and we should continue to find ways to incorporate these tools into ministry whenever they can be effective. All should feel welcomed and included during this time of ongoing transition.
Please also join me in continuing to pray for everyone around the world who is still suffering from the impact of COVID-19, for all those who sacrificed greatly over the past year for the benefit of others, and for wisdom and prudence as we navigate the path forward to gathering and worshiping again in person as the body of Christ.
The June issue of The Central Minnesota Catholic celebrates our diocesan priests and religious community members who are marking special anniversaries of ordination or profession. I enjoy celebrating these milestone events with these men and women whenever possible. Their commitment and service to God and his people inspire me in my own vocation. Please keep them in your prayers in a special way along with all those today who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate or religious life.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud