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Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran, bishops to meet in Baltimore

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The month of November gives us much to ponder and reflect upon. This month is traditionally set aside for us to remember our beloved dead. Let us continue to pray for all our brothers and sisters who have died. Please remember in a special way for the deceased bishops and priests from the Diocese of Sioux City. They have laid a strong foundation of faith for us to build upon.

40 DAYS FOR LIFE

Late Sunday night at 11 p.m., I gathered with a large group of pro-life people in front of the Planned Parenthood facility here in Sioux City. We prayed together for the last hour of the 40 Days of Prayer for Life that began on September 24. We prayed for an end to abortion, especially those preformed in our diocese at this facility. Seven days a week, twenty four hours a day for 40 days, the good people of our Catholic community and others, prayed and stood vigil in front of Planned Parenthood. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the faith, dedication and love for the life that so many people demonstrated. Thank you for all who participated. Thank you for all who prayed and fasted these 40 days. Thank you to the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, the Knights of Columbus, Mark Thomason, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis and especially to Mary Stevens and all who helped with this great project. I know God will bless our efforts.

DEDICATION OF ST JOHN LATERAN AND OUR CATHEDRAL

On Sunday, most of us will celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. The Lateran Basilica (named after the Laterani family, who donated the land on which the basilica is built) was dedicated on November 9th in the year 324 A.D. by Pope Sylvester I and is honored as the Pope’s Cathedral where he exercises his office as Bishop of Rome. Just as the Cathedral of the Epiphany is my Cathedral as Bishop of Sioux City, the Basilica of St. John Lateran is Pope Benedict XVI’s Cathedral as Bishop of Rome. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is oldest and highest ranking of the four major basilicas of Rome and is often called “the Mother and head of all churches of Rome and of the world”.

In our Liturgical Calendar, some days take precedence over others. For example, this Sunday, for most of the diocese, the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica takes precedence over the Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Just as last week, the Commemoration of All Souls, took precedence over the Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, paragraph 59). One of the reasons that we celebrate the dedication of a Roman basilica is that it gives us an opportunity to unite ourselves in prayer with the whole Church and with the symbol of our unity; the Holy Father. This opportunity falls on a Sunday this year, so we all have the opportunity to celebrate the gift of unity and the gift of the papacy.

There is one parish that will not be celebrating the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica this Sunday; that would be our Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City. On November 9th, 1998, after a period of renovation, the Cathedral of the Epiphany was rededicated. What better day to rededicate our own cathedral than on the anniversary of the dedication of the Pope’s Cathedral? The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is ranked as a Feast. However, for the clergy and parishioners of the Cathedral, the anniversary of its rededication is marked as a Solemnity, a ranking enjoyed by only eighteen other days of the year. Therefore, for the people of the Cathedral of the Epiphany, the Solemnity of their church’s dedication takes precedence over the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

To make it even more confusing, the parishes of the Diocese celebrated the dedication of our Cathedral on November 10, replacing the feast of Pope Leo the Great. (St. Leo, pray for us!)

No matter what Solemnity or Feast we celebrate this weekend, we all have an opportunity to reflect on our unity as a diocese and as a Universal Church. During this weekend, let’s seek in a special way the intercession of St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist, both of whom St. John Lateran Basilica is named for, as well as the intercession of the Magi who greeted the child Jesus and for whom our Cathedral of the Epiphany is named. We pray for the people of Rome, as they celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of their Mother Church and for the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI. I also ask that you pray for each other and for me, your bishop, that as we celebrate this weekend both the Mother Church of the world, and the Mother Church of the Diocese of Sioux City, we may all become one body, one spirit in Christ.

MEETING OF THE UNITED STATES BISHOPS

Next week I will join my fellow bishops from our country in Baltimore for our annual meeting. We will discuss many important issues, including the response to our document “Faithful Citizenship.” The election may be over, but our task as teachers and shepherds of the flock continues. We must continue to make sure that the protection of all human life from natural conception to natural death is our number one priority. The Church can never be silent on this issue and I thank those many people who have personally thanked me and my fellow bishops for our work to promote and protect life.

We will also discuss many other important issues for the Church in the United States, especially, issues regarding the Liturgy and new English translation of Roman Missal used at all Masses. Please pray for us.

May all of us continue to thank god for His many blessings. May peace be in your homes and in your hearts.

November 10 is the third anniversary of the announcement of my appointment as your bishop. What a joy for me to serve you. I am humbled and grateful for all God’s blessings in my life. You are one of the greatest!
(PS, I haven’t given up on the Bronco’s; they just need a little “regrouping”!)

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

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