THANK YOU, LORD
On the eve of Thanksgiving Day 2010, I pause to reflect once again on the blessings which the Lord has bestowed on me. First, I am privileged to serve a wonderful Church. We have many if not all of the problems which confront Catholicism in the United States today, but we are also a Church full of hope, for the future to be sure but confident that in the present, however haltingly, we are doing God’s work. Thank you, Lord.
I have terrific priests all of whom are my friends. Yesterday, I finished the second of five in the new round of overnight “pajama parties”, a name given to my listening sessions with our priests which began in 2008 and are now being repeated at their request. We spend an evening, overnight, and morning together in prayer and communal reflection at the Bethany Center. They share their hopes and their fears and we talk about them, hopefully in follow-up to implement those which can indeed be implemented. I think they know that their people do indeed love them, alot more than most are willing to admit, and I told them I did as well. Thank you, Lord.
I am thankful for wonderful deacons and religious in the diocese. The deacons are becoming more and more helpful to the priests, probably for two reasons: better formation and the reduction in the number of priests which makes them all the more valuable. Thank you, Lord.
Nothing irritates or nearly angers me than speaking badly about religious sisters and brothers. One would have to be a troglodyte to fail to love these noble women who have given their lives to the Church and have endured a lot because of their fidelity to the Church and t0 their community. The sisters and brothers living and working in the Diocese of St. Petersburg are among the most ardent supporters of our programs for evangelization and religious education and this Church is truly lucky that they have chosen to live and work in our midst. Thank you, Lord.
God’s people in this diocese are like those most every where else but somehow I feel a better connection to them and they to me. They wish and pray for leadership from myself but the overwhelming number of them wish me to serve rather than to rule, to affirm rather than to scold, and to listen more than to be foreclosed to their hopes and aspirations. And, perhaps most importantly, they are patient with me. There are many times when I will fail one or another as they often expect me to manage an individual case of bullying in school, overrule a decision of a building principal who expels a student, etc. A micro-manager I can not and never will be, but a true shepherd I hope I am. Thank you Lord.
I have a wonderful team of colleagues here at the Bishop Larkin Pastoral Center and elsewhere throughout the diocese who help me do my daily work. They are the best. Thank you, Lord.
Now, I must bring this to an end because my whole family is coming this year from around the country for Thanksgiving. I must be off to the supermarket which I know about as well as I would getting around Kabul in Afghanistan. On those few occasions when I darken the passageways of the local PUBLIX, there are always people from the diocese to direct me to where the eggs and milk are. Thank you, Lord.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.