Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Over the course of the summer, I’ve spoken with many people regarding the reopening of our Catholic schools, parish faith formation programs and youth ministry efforts. I am committed to assisting parishes and schools to move forward in ways that meet the needs of young people and their families and that are adaptable to changing circumstances should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall or winter.
These last six months have been a time of incredible challenge. Like every other diocese around the country, we have adapted to new ways of worshiping, new ways of learning, new ways of “being Church” to one another. And we still must cope with the ongoing uncertainty of how this pandemic will affect our lives for the foreseeable future.
But there also have been many successes. I have been so impressed by the dedication and creativity of teachers, principals, youth minsters and pastors in using technology and developing remote learning strategies to stay in touch with students and families, even in this time of physical-distancing. Many of these strategies were very effective, and we need to make them part of our ministry efforts moving forward, no matter the status of the coronavirus.
With regard to Catholic schools, David Fremo, our diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, has been working closely with principals to help them prepare for a variety of settings for learning this fall: face-to-face, remote and a hybrid of the two. Our faith formation and youth ministry programs are considering similar options.
As bishop, I am committed to following our state’s safety requirements and public health mandates in order to protect youth, their families, our school and parish staffs, and everyone else in our communities. This is how we serve the common good. It requires observing physical-distancing even when we would prefer to be close to friends. It requires wearing masks even when it’s inconvenient and a little uncomfortable. We do it because this is how we model the Gospel values of care and compassion for others. Please be a good role model for others.
I ask you to please keep our students, families, school and parish staff in your prayers. Consider volunteering in some way for your local Catholic school, faith formation program or youth ministry program. The support, assistance and encouragement of everyone in our parishes and Area Catholic Communities is needed to make this coming academic year a success. We are the Church together, and by working together we will continue to build strong environments for learning, spiritual growth and community.
+ Bishop Donald J. Kettler
Bishop Donald J. Kettler is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.