Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Recently, I was reading a passage from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus overheard the apostles arguing about who among them was the greatest. Jesus told them: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all, and the servant of all.”
Jesus reminds us — then and today — that our life isn’t just about our own wants and wishes. The giving of oneself in service to others is the greatest gift we have to offer. This is central to the Gospel message. It means putting the needs of another person ahead of our own. It means sacrificing our own desires and comforts for the good of another. It may require us to leave our comfort zones to attend to the needs of someone on the margins.
Serving in these ways is not always easy. But this is what Christ called his apostles to do. And, it’s what he calls us to do today, particularly in light of some of the most recent challenges we face with the coronavirus pandemic and our failure to effectively address the persistent sin of racism.
What does it mean to be a “servant of all” right now? It might mean running errands for an elderly parishioner or family member to lessen the risk of them becoming ill. It means accepting the hassle and discomfort of wearing a mask in public — not necessarily to protect ourselves from the virus, but to make a small sacrifice that helps to ensure the safety of the more vulnerable. It means praying for an end to racism and calling out racial comments or injustices when you see them.
On Aug. 15, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she was taken up body and soul into heaven after her earthly life was finished. Mary is a prime example of what it means to be a servant. May we all follow her example, placing the will of God and legitimate needs of others ahead of our own, so that we can truly become what Christ asks us to be: “the servant of all.”
Bankruptcy reorganization update
As you know, the Diocese of St. Cloud filed for bankruptcy reorganization in June. This involves a framework to resolve all clergy abuse claims against the diocese and area parishes, including a consensual plan of reorganization that provides for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors. As I noted in my column last month, the funds are coming from insurance and benefits coverage settlements, cash and property contributions from the diocese, and contributions from parishes.
More recently, the court has set a deadline of Oct. 21, 2020, for survivors of clergy sexual abuse to file their claims in the case. You will be hearing more about this in your parishes in the coming weeks and months. I will continue to keep you and our parishes updated on the process as we move forward.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Bishop Donald J. Kettler
Bishop Kettler is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.