Lent is a good time to count our blessings - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Lent is a good time to count our blessings

I do hope that this Lenten season is a time of comfort and peace for you as you journey to an even closer relationship with the Lord. As we approach Easter in but a few short weeks, we will visibly see the resurrection of the earth from this harsh winter, and I pray that we will likewise see the renewal of our hearts and minds through prayer, worship and self-sacrifice.

Lent is a good time in which to count our blessings and to thank God for those who make our lives and work special. In this spirit, I want to thank you for your continued support of our ministries and keep you informed of some initiatives aimed at improving the lives of all in our community of believers.

As I travel from one end of our beautiful diocese to the other, I am always struck by the depth of people’s faith and their willingness and desire to take part in the ongoing works of love in their parishes and in the diocese as a whole.

For example, thousands of people have taken part in our Spirit Alive! renewal, whether on their own, via our special www.rochesterspiritalive.org Web site or in parish-based efforts. In this second season of our renewal, I am hearing wonderful reports of how women, men and children brought thousands of Bibles to our churches throughout the diocese for our Blessing of the Bibles weekend.

I am witnessing active participation in our Project Mark initiative and have heard people speak of how rewarding it is indeed to plunge ourselves into Mark’s lucid and inspiring Gospel.

How marvelous it is for so many of us to be reading the same book on a more personal level even as we proclaim it simultaneously in our churches, reflecting on the questions our parishes are putting in their bulletins or taking part in a Bible study group.

If you recall some of the early communications around spiritual renewal, you know that our goal is to encourage opportunities for prayer, faith sharing, spiritual reading, reflection, celebration of liturgy, reading, studying and praying Scripture, growing in knowledge of what we as Catholics believe, and growing in understanding of the demands of baptism and discipleship. It is my fondest hope that Spirit Alive! will lead all of us to a more full, active and conscious engagement in Eucharist and our faith family.

When we complete our final season of Spirit Alive! next year, I pray all of us who’ve taken part will have experienced a deepening of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our knowledge and understanding of the Word, and our commitment to discipleship and stewardship.

To that latter commitment — the practice of good stewardship and the sharing of our time, talent and treasure — I report with great pleasure and pride that thousands of you have taken part this year in our annual Catholic Ministries Appeal.

Thank you so much for your most excellent generosity in what has been a very difficult year for many people financially. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that in the worst economic climate in several decades we now stand at 90 percent of our $5.39 million goal in the Catholic Ministries Appeal. Your gift is helping us fund so many of the programs, projects and initiatives that not only help people in need but our parishes and ministries to people of every situation and circumstance: the aged, the infirm, families, our youth, married and engaged couples, our priests and deacons.

I report with much excitement that 26 parishes have already met or exceeded their goal, another 21 are between 90 to 100 percent goal, and yet another 27 are between 80 to 90 percent. Our average gift is up $10 from last year, from $137 to $147 this year.

We still have some weeks to go until the campaign ends on May 31, so, if you are willing and able, please join the many thousands of people who are helping their parishes meet their goals and contributing to the chief fund by which we provide so many vital ministries.

I am further encouraged by the wonderful things happening at our Catholic schools. In this year of transition after the very difficult closings last year, I have seen firsthand the incredible commitment of our parents and principals, teachers and staff — and our children — to keep the spirit of our schools moving forward in hope. We have had a very good response to our extensive television, radio and print advertising campaign and the good work of committees at the schools to get the word out about what an incredible value a Catholic education is.

As a result and as of this writing, we are pacing considerably ahead of last year in registration. Meanwhile, 10 of our schools have received the prestigious accreditation of the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools, and more are working toward receiving that distinction soon. This made Catholic Schools Week all the sweeter and gives me much encouragement.

These are but a few of the good things happening — because of you! Thank you for all you do for your parish and the diocese.

Peace to all.

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