With this week’s Along the Way, I begin my customary summer break from this effort.
It is an activity which I enjoy very much because I consider it a privileged way to communicate with you. At the same time, I do welcome this respite. It will be a chance to read, relax with family and friends and recharge my batteries.
I write these words on the Feast of St. John Fisher, bishop and martyr, who is the patron saint of our diocese. Mindful of John Fisher’s heroic witness and grateful for his prayers, I have joined my prayers to his for you on this feast day.
My prayer is for your health and well-being, and your continued growth in the faith. My prayer is also one of deep gratitude for your faithful witness to the Lord, and for your generous support and encouragement all through the year.
I had a special experience of those good gifts for the past two days as I met with the priests and pastoral administrators of our diocese at our annual convocation in Corning. I can’t tell you what a joy it was — and always is — to be in such company. They are remarkably gifted and generous women and men. They love the Lord. They love you. And they express their love in daily, generous service to our parish and other faith communities.
Our gathering theme this year was evangelization — with particular emphasis on the Eucharist and preaching. Fathers Robert Rivers, CSP, and Gene Lauer were our guest speakers. They keynoted our themes in provocative and practical ways. They got us thinking. They sparked a fruitful sharing of ideas and experience.
Equally effective in sparking our minds and imagination were some wonderful examples of our rich local talent. Maribeth Mancini and Joan Workmaster led a two-hour workshop on liturgy. Doug Mandelaro presented on the influence of modern media and on ways to work with media in respectful and mutually beneficial ways.
However excellent our speakers are, I always find the deepest grace of the convocation in the strength and goodness of the people who gather. There is a special spirit among them. An easy, warm spirit flows from them that embraces those who are new in their midst, that easily reconnects those who don’t see one another very often.
It is a privilege to have such coworkers in pastoral ministry. When I am with them, I not only enjoy their company but also, through them, feel beautifully connected with you. In very real ways they connect me with you, your concerns and dreams when we gather in events like our convocation.
Part of the joy of summer break is the opportunity it offers to think about the experiences of the past months. It is one thing to participate in events like the convocation, to attend to the graces that flow through it. It’s another thing to rest with it at a later time, to remember and draw meaning from its many special moments. And, the convocation is but one of hundreds of graced moments I have experienced with you since last summer.
I thank you for the many gifts you have given me during these months — the witness of your love of the Lord, of your concern for others, your gifts of time, talent and treasure to our faith community. I thank you too for your encouragement and friendship.
Along the Way will be back on the weekend of Aug. 13-14. In the meantime, I wish you a blessed and restful summer.
Peace to all.