Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Sat, Feb 9, was truly a blessing both to me personally and to our entire diocese as our bishop ordained seventeen new deacons, one of whom was my brother, George. I even had the privilege to vest my brother in the vestments of his office, the stole and dalmatic. This Sunday, February 17, I will be at my brother’s home parish of St. Paul in Spartanburg to celebrate Mass with George as the deacon. Thank you for allowing me to share my joy with you, my parish family.
If at times I seem to become visibly excited talking about our Catholic faith, it’s because our Catholic faith is exciting! It’s an amazing adventure if we will but allow it to go deep into the core of our being. If my becoming Catholic had anything to do with my brother’s own conversion, then it’s important to point out that my own conversion came from a seed planted by a young man when I was in fifth grade who made the sign of the cross. “Why did you do that?” I asked. He said, “Because I’m Catholic.” That simple but profound gesture began for me a life of discovery in which many other Catholics would end upplaying significant roles in helping grow that seed. My brother’s own faith helped bring his then future wife, Janet, back to her Catholic faith. They now have three wonderful – and very Catholic – daughters. And the fruits of courageous faith go on and on and on. Don’t be afraid to be Catholic. Don’t be fearful of making the sign of the cross in public. While it’s true that we should never pray in order to be seen, it’s ok to be seen praying. You really could change someone’s life forever. Be bold. Be Catholic.
This Friday, February 22, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Mass this day will be enhanced with special music as we celebrate our unity through Peter and his successors. Of course, we don’t celebrate a “chair” like the one you sit in. We celebrate the office of the Pope and the unity of faith it represents for us around the world on every continent, even Antarctica. Come and pray for the Church!
Finally, a plea of sorts regarding those who are ill. “I was ill and you cared for me,” (Matt. 25:36). In days gone past, we as a parish could request lists of the sick who were Catholic. Because of privacy laws today (known as HIPPA), no one is able to request who is in the hospital. Even more, not everyone who identifies as Catholic desires a visit from a priest or lay minister. (I have actually been ejected from rooms!) So, if you (preferably) or your spouse/family member are going into the hospital, please let us know so that we may visit you. In the past, some people have been upset when no one came to see them, but the law doesn’t allow us to ask for lists of Catholics. We would love to visit you, but in our day and age we depend on you or your family to let us know.
Yours in Christ and Our Lady,