Bishop Nickless


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Bishop Nickless’ homilies

Be not afraid: Light shall overcome the darkness

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

October is Respect Life Month and that’s a good time to reflect on ways to get involved with the work to uphold the dignity of life for all people.

The theme for the coming year is “Be Not Afraid” and will be in effect through September 2018.

Yet, in light of the evil associated with the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, people of faith may beg the question, “How can we not be afraid?”

Certainly, the terrible irony of this event cannot be overlooked – that this appalling disregard for human beings took place on Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 1.

Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of the tragedy in which a lone gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets at an outdoor country musical festival. At press time, at least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded.

They have been in my prayers – as I’m sure they have been in yours – since I first heard the news. My prayers also include law enforcement, first responders and medical personnel who put their own needs to one side to help those terrorized by this event.

I’m not sure how many of us could empathize with the unspeakable terror of those who were preyed upon by this clearly-deranged man. Most of us simply shake our heads in disbelief, trying to make sense of something so senseless.

As with most events that cause us to examine the how and why of violence, we turn to prayer and direction from God. But how do we pray when faced with such a horrific tragedy? How do we “be not afraid?”

It’s trying times like these when I would encourage you to not only just pray when times are challenging, but to pray every day, regularly.

Most of us offer intercessory prayer, asking God or the Blessed Virgin Mary to watch over our family and friends and even to those most in need. This is a good reminder that there are others interceding for us in their prayers, too.

Often, we give thanks and praise to God for the wonderful gifts he gives us throughout our lives. Think of how often you could simply say, “Jesus, I love you,” or “God, I praise you.” This can be done anywhere, anytime or anyplace.

For those of you who prefer to communicate with Our Lord in silence, I offer these insights from Mother Teresa: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

People would be justified in asking, “Where was God when this unbelievable carnage was taking place?”

I respond, “Weeping with us at this incomprehensible loss of lives, while sending his graces to provide solace and peace in the midst of the shock and horror.”

I am not asking you to become numb to the events which transpired in Las Vegas. As people of prayer and faith, we need to be proactive in our resolve to change a culture that appears to accept such acts as commonplace. In our sorrow, we should be building a society in which respect for life is the standard and the norm.

However, it appears our culture has grown increasingly callous about the right to life and the belief that every one of us is created in the likeness of God. This lack of respect is illustrated by many who believe that being pro-choice is acceptable, assisted suicide is defendable and conscience is personal.

We are surrounded by more and more people who are, or who feel, abandoned. It is for sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists to determine what drove this man to make his choices. Would a cheerful smile, a kind word or a good deed have made a difference for the gunman? That may be too simplistic, as the darkness in his life that drove him to make his choices were most likely an overwhelming force of evil.

However, we should never believe the darkness can be greater than the light of the Lord and that is how we can best “be not afraid.”

Please join me in prayer to end the spiral of divisiveness, hate and violence that seems to be so prevalent in our nation. In our sorrow as a nation, let us offer this prayer for those who died, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” and pray for me, as I always do for you.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City


October 5, 2017: Be not afraid: Light shall overcome the darkness

September 21, 2017: Prayer humbles one’s pride

September 7, 2017: Catechizing children: Pass on a vibrant and meaningful faith

August 10, 2017: Fatima message emphasizes God’s love

July 27, 2017: Strive to love more perfectly

July 13, 2017: Called to be disciples of Jesus and lead others to follow him

June 29, 2017: Centering faith on Christ, called to be bold for him

June 1, 2017: Planned Parenthood closings illustrate a victory of prayer

May 18, 2017: Holy Spirit lives within each of us

May 4, 2017: Praise, thanks to God for all his gifts

April 20, 2017: Joy of Easter at heart of Gospel

 April 6, 2017: Easter’s joy awaits us

March 23, 2017: Lent calls faithful to greater discipline, renewal of sacrifice

March 9, 2017: Confession important opportunity of Lent

March 9, 2017: Give generously to Catholic Relief Services Collection

March 9, 2017: Bishop commutes Lenten obligation for March 17 

February 23, 2017: Lent is a time to pause, turn to God

February 9, 2017: Valuing the covenant of marriage 

February 9, 2017: Bishop releases immigration statement

January 26: 2017: Catholic Schools: Instruments to spread Gospel, do Lord’s work

January 12, 2017: Forming best plan to journey forward

December 22, 2016: Catholic Charities offers support, guidance

December 22, 2016: Welcome Christ into your hearts with joy and love

December 8, 2016: Faith, hope and love: Celebrate Christmas for the right reasons 

November 17, 2016: Pledged to be true servants of Christ

October 20, 2016: Rely on God’s mercy to avoid devilish influences

October 6, 2016: Worldly culture committed to lies cannot bring about peace, justice

September 22, 2016: Pastoral planning committee reviews, evaluates feedback

August 25, 2016: Spending deliberate time in prayer enhances other areas of our lives

August 11, 2016: Prayers for youth, adults as they prepare to go back to school

July 28, 2016: Voters must be Catholic first

July 14, 2016: Ordination offers opportunity to evaluate diocesan needs

June 20, 2016: Seeking the face of Christ in suffering 

June 16, 2016: Keep the faith this summer

May 19, 2016: Be aware of God’s presence

May 5, 2016: Pastoral care for families: God’s plan for marriage, family taught by Jesus Christ

April 21, 2016: Papal document affirms marriage

April 7, 2016: Pray, discern God’s will during pastoral planning process

March 24, 2016: Find joy in exultation of Jesus

March 10, 2016: No longer time to coast, Lent brings time for conversion

February 11, 2016: Trusting in Lord’s mercy, seek a deeper conversion of heart

January 28, 2016: Being a good disciple is giving a consistent witness to Christ

January 14, 2016: Pray, work more willingly for end to scourge of abortion

December 17, 2015: Jubilee Year of Mercy:  Birth of Christ opens door of mercy

December 3, 2015: Diocese of Sioux City promulgates safe environment program

November 19, 2015: SPOTLIGHT: Movie reminds us to be vigilant

November 5, 2015: GOD’S MERCY: Moving sinners to conversion 

October 15, 2015: Family life: Faithful families know hope and joy

October 1, 2015: Pope’s visit a joyful one

September 17, 2015: Pray for safe travels, success of family meeting and for pope

September 3, 2015: Families contribute to student faith, school success

August 6, 2015: Caring for the most vulnerable

July 23, 2015: Build laws on good laws and truth

July 9, 2015: SUPREME COURT DECISION: Rejecting four marks of natural marriage 

June 25, 2015: POPE’S ENCYCLICAL: Boldly confronts us about creation, bishop says

June 11, 2015: Being a disciple of Christ

May 14, 2015: United with Christ in this life

April 30, 2015: Prayers sought as priest changed implemented

April 16, 2015: Mercy asks to seek opportunities for forgiveness and healing of sin

April 2, 2015: Seeking full, perfect union with Jesus

March 19, 2015: Turning back to the Lord during Lent 

March 5, 2015: Celebrating the charisms of professed vocations

March 5, 2015: Diocese to take up collection for Catholic Relief Services

Feb. 19, 2015: SEASON OF LENT:  Time of contrition, penance

Feb. 5, 2015: Bishop comments on Pope Francis’s remarks on children, family size

Jan. 22, 2015: Uphold human dignity, recommit to light and mission of Christ

Dec. 18, 2014: Blessings of the Season: God wills each of us gifts of grace and holiness

Dec. 4, 2014: Embrace spirit of gratitude, humility this Advent Season

Nov. 6, 2014: Bishop asks for prayers for vocations

Oct. 16, 2014: Don’t lower the bar to achieve holiness