Past year recalled with gratitude - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Past year recalled with gratitude

A quick check of my pocket calendar reminds me that this is my last weekly “Along the Way” column before vacation. As much as I enjoy this moment of writing each week, I confess I am looking forward to vacation and the respite it provides from the work responsibilities of daily life. I look forward to the company of my vacation pals, to reading some books, messing around in the kitchen, setting no clocks and checking no calendars.

As we come to this time of year, I am mindful of the events and challenges, the ups and downs of the months since last year’s vacation. For sure, they have been busy months. When I think of them, I am very grateful to everyone for your personal kindness to me, and for your gifts of time, talent and treasure that do so much to strengthen the life of our local church and help us to proclaim the good news.

It would be impossible to list all of the things for which I am grateful, but I would like to name some that claim my attention in a special way as I look back on the year.

Our pastoral-planning program continues to move forward in good ways. This endeavor is necessary if we are to remain a strong and healthy community in the midst of change. This program would be impossible without the participation of our pastoral ministers and the gifted, generous members of our communities who roll up their sleeves to make it work. There is much yet to be done, but we are moving in a good direction.

Youth ministry continues to enliven parish and diocesan life. I continually thank the Lord for raising up young people to renew our lives and for the adults who accompany them. I am particularly happy to see our young people more and more visible and active in a wide range of parish activities. That they are so visible and involved is good for them and for us.

Partners in Faith called for an immense amount of work and unprecedented generosity from the people of our diocese. You responded in a magnificent way and I thank you for that effort — for myself and for those who will benefit from it in the years to come. I think that you will enjoy a full report on this effort to be published in the Catholic Courier monthly edition in the next few months.

We have made possible significant advances in information technology. Such progress allows for a wide range of efficiencies in record keeping, the exchange of information and in education. I am told that we have one of the finest systems in the country — thanks to you.

We can never recognize enough our dedicated catechists and school teachers who work with our children, helping them to know, love and serve Christ at their present age and preparing them to grow in that capacity all the years of their lives.

St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry — one of your great gifts to today and tomorrow — fills my heart with gratitude. It strengthens our capacity to provide graduate-level academic and ministerial training to our pastoral leaders. It also offers excellent opportunities for professional development in a wide range of pastoral services.

Other people to whom I offer thanks? My brother priests, pastoral administrators, pastoral associates, liturgical directors, pastoral musicians, permanent deacons and their spouses, the men and women who work in our Pastoral Center and parish offices, all those who make our Catholic Charities network hum, the members of the many boards and councils that guide and advise us wisely and faithfully, members of the countless diocesan and parish committees that make happen so much that is good.

Finally, on a personal note, I thank all who have been so generously kind to me on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my ordination as bishop. I am deeply grateful for your greetings, your kind gifts and your generous words of encouragement. You have offered to me in concentrated fashion in recent days what you have graciously offered me since the day I first joined you in 1979. I shall always be grateful to you.

I hope that you have an opportunity to find some rest this summer. I’ll be back with you in August.

Peace to all.

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