Greetings of Christ’s peace and love! We begin the season of Advent that signals the beginning of the new Church calendar. It is a special time, calling us to reflect on our relationship with Christ and to prepare a place for our Savior in our lives. We focus not only on the celebration of Christ’s coming on His birthday at Christmas, but also on His abiding presence every day of our lives and His coming at the end of time. We do this patiently and with joyful expectation by getting ready, staying awake and making straight the path for Christ in our lives through a spirit of repentance and conversion of our heart.
The timing for the beginning of the Advent season is perfect. Just a few days ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day, reminding ourselves of the abundant blessings God has bestowed upon our families, the Church, the world and us. The manifestation of the abiding presence, love and generosity of God were reflected in so many ways – the blessings of our priests, deacons, religious, pastoral staff and many other ministers. Our priests are not perfect, but they strive and continue to give themselves faithfully for the love of God and service of His people in spite of the many challenges these days and the difficult ministry being carried out daily in our parishes and missions. I sensed the growing unity and solidarity among our clergy as we gathered in June at the annual retreat and in October at the convocation to pray together and pursue our continuing education to become more effective in our priestly ministry.
Our ongoing efforts and prayers to nurture priestly and religious vocations are being answered. God has blessed us with four new seminarians this school year, making a total of ten now studying to become priests for our diocese. Also, the Bishop’s Dinner received generous support from many donors for the maintenance of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Benefactors, volunteers and staff of our Catholic Community Services as well as the Good Samaritan ministry and other social outreach programs of our Church continue to make a difference in the many lives of our poor brothers and sisters. The Diocesan Development Drive and the Catholic Foundation of Utah contribute their share, utilizing the gifts of so many in order to continue to provide the necessary assistance to our poor parishes, missions, schools and other ministries.
We also give thanks to God for all our Church lay leaders working hard to implement our new Diocesan Pastoral Plan in order to help us chart the vision and mission of our diocese for the coming years. The efforts of the Diocesan Pastoral Council members and the collaboration of the pastors give us hope of forming vibrant faith communities in all our parishes.
As we begin Advent, let these many blessings from God inspire our hearts to respond to His invitation to prepare the way of the Lord and welcome our Savior into our lives. The four weeks of Advent make a joyful season of prayer and contemplation of God’s abiding presence in our daily lives as we patiently await his final coming at the end of time. In the midst of the flurry of Christmas preparations, parties and shopping, let us strive hard to observe the holiness of the season. Take advantage of the many liturgical celebrations ahead of us, including the Diocesan Advent Retreat on Dec. 7 and the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Posadas and Simbang Gabi. Advent’s message is clear: pray, stay awake, keep watch and prepare the way of the Lord.
Blessings of peace and joy to everyone this Advent season!