Opening of Year of St. Paul, ordination set for this weekend
June 26, 2008
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This weekend is a notably joyful one for our Diocese of Sioux City. On Saturday, June 28, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, I will ordain two men to the priesthood; and on Sunday, June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, we inaugurate the "Pauline Year" which Pope Benedict has designated.
Saturday is the feast of St. Irenaeus of Lyon. From the writings of this saintly man, we have the doctrine of apostolic succession, the canon of the New Testament, and a solid defense of the Faith against Gnostic relativism. The feast day of this bishop and doctor of the Church is most appropriate for a priestly ordination. As St. Irenaeus defended his people from the hatred and persecution of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, let us pray that Father Jeremy Wind and Father Shane Deman defend our people and our Faith from the scorn and indifference and, yes, hatred of the world today. As St. Irenaeus daily taught the truth of Jesus Christ without counting the cost to himself, may Father Wind and Father Deman daily teach the same truth in the same way. May the witness to Christ and the generosity of our two newest priests aspire to match the example set by the patron of their ordination day.
This will be my second priestly ordination here in Sioux City. I am filled with joy and thanksgiving to our Lord and the Holy Spirit, who have called these men to serve, with the gift and commitment of their whole lives. The vocation to share in Christ's sacrificial priesthood is truly a great sacrifice for these men and for their families. They give up the hope and desire of family, children, and ambition; but in return, they assume the hope, the family, and the ambition of the Cross. From now on, not only their work, but their very selves will be dedicated to build up and sustain the Body of Christ, the community of the faithful. We hope for salvation and eternal life; as priests, they make this possible especially by means of the holy sacraments which Christ offers through their hands. We are indeed one family; this is why we all call our priests "Father," as a sign of respect and unity. And we have the ambition to save souls and to change the world for Christ; as priests, they will enkindle and direct this ambition. Let us pray that the ordination of Jeremy and Shane inspire other young men of our diocese to follow the Lord's call to become priests. Parents and grandparents, please continue to pray that a son or grandson in your family consider this wonderful vocation.
YEAR OF SAINT PAUL
Such hope and ambition that "all men be saved," as God truly wills, is exactly what the Holy Father reminds us of in this Year of St. Paul. St. Paul needed a dramatic push from Christ Himself to love Him in His own person; but having once been smacked on the head (just to get his attention, as it were), St. Paul gave himself to Christ and to the infant Church as an evangelist, and eventually as a martyr. We are not all called to be priests; we each have our own vocation, whether to marriage and family, or to the single life, or to Holy Orders as priests or deacons, or to consecrated life as nuns or brothers. Whatever our vocation, we are all called by our baptism into Christ's own life and Body to be holy men and women, and to spread our love for Jesus Christ through the whole world. If we belong to Christ, then we must act like we mean it: we must in some way imitate St. Paul's complete dedication and radical witness to the Good News.
If we are to be successful as disciples of Christ, we must flourish where He plants us; this means each one accepting his or her unique vocation freely and joyfully. Therefore I enjoin on every faithful person in this Diocese, for the course of this Pauline Year, to pray every day for clarity in discerning and fruitfulness in living that vocation. I also urge each of you to pray for an increase in vocations to Holy Orders and to religious life; and for an increase in the fidelity of married couples to the very great dignity and holiness of this vocation. This prayer does not need to be elaborate or time-consuming. I offer this short prayer as a simple example:
Holy God, most Blessed Trinity, I love you and I praise your Name.
Lastly, I strongly encourage everyone, as far as possible and at least on Sundays and solemnities, to make this prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
May the intercession of St. Irenaeus, St. Peter, and St. Paul sustain our Church. May you always grow in the faith, hope, and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom and as whose Body we are all co-heirs to the Kingdom of God. May God daily bless you all with every spiritual blessing and all good things. Please continue to pray for me, that I may serve you well as shepherd for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless