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Bishop celebrates five years of ministry in diocese

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Five years ago this Thursday, January 20th, I was ordained to be your bishop. I had very little idea of what challenges, what joys, what graces awaited me. And while of course much is the same in the Church everywhere, my priestly experience in Denver did not prepare me for what is uniquely Iowan here. I thank God for what all of you have taught m e in the last five years, and I thank you for all of your constant prayers and support. I especially want to thank all of our devoted priests for their support and dedicated ministry. Bishops can accomplish little without their co-workers in the vineyard. The priests, deacons and dedicated lay people who work with me here at the chancery and in all of our schools, parishes and institutions are great gifts to me. Thank you to all and know that I remember you each day in prayer. I look forward to many more years to serve you as your Bishop. The vision and goals that I have shared with you in my Pastoral Letter, The Church is Always in Need of Renewal, are still to be developed and realized fully. Let us all continue to center on the importance of the Eucharist, where we meet Christ himself in such a personal way. With Christ as the center and focus of all that we do, we can accomplish so much. I count on each of us doing our part to advance the Kingdom of God in our midst. I look forward to doing God’s work as one family, gathered in love and hope. May God continue to bless our efforts. Thank you for the honor of being your Bishop.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK

One of the things our diocese does best is our long-standing commitment to our Catholic schools. Next Sunday, January 30, opens Catholic Schools Week, during which we celebrate and renew our dedication to building up our children on the foundation of faith. Catholic education is not merely a public education with a Catholic class added to it. Rather, Catholic education seeks to form the whole person in faith. The person is a unity, a whole, and the value of the faith can’t be compartmentalized into only parts of the whole. For faith to be central to anything, it must be central to everything. In our schools as in our families, we strive to make that faith the sure and true foundation of a holy life.

As your bishop, I am committed to the salvation of souls throughout this diocese. I want to be with every Catholic family, every Catholic household and person, in all of your joys, and all of your sorrows. Our Lord Jesus Christ has given to me the task of helping you thrive in the world, and pass on our faith to another generation of committed, joyful, and dedicated members of Christ’s Body. I think our Catholic schools are incredibly important in succeeding in all this, and so I support our Catholic schools as much as I can.

ANNIVERSARY OF ROE V. WADE

But the success of our schools depends even more on all of you. The flourishing of Catholic families will carry with it burgeoning Catholic schools, and Catholic institutions and associations of all kinds, both in the Church and in the world. As we mark this weekend the somber anniversary of the Supreme Court’s appalling Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, we must remember and mourn the 50 million souls, victims of the scourge of abortion, who should be present as our neighbors, even as our own children. Their absence wounds us gravely, both materially in the loss of their joy, creativity, and energy, and also spiritually, in the cost of our ignorance and fear in failing to defend them properly.

Pope Paul VI saw, very rightly, that abortion is the fruit of the contraceptive mentality, and that it justifies many other evils. In the last four decades, his insight has been verified many times over. Your mission as Catholic families is to bear heroic witness to this truth with your lives. Not only must we all reject and work against the killing of innocents that still takes place in our midst, but also we must stand with the courage of our Lord and Savior against the contraceptive mentality that surrounds us. By the flourishing of our children, each one gratefully received as holy and unique gifts from God; by the humble joy with which we pursue spiritual priorities first, trusting that “all these things will be given to us” in addition; and by the forgiveness and courage with which we bear the world’s scorn for our difference, we will offer our fidelity to our Savior, as our best and most precious gift.

Please continue to pray and work for an end to abortion, and for the defense and strengthening of all those God calls to the married life. The Rosary is one of our most powerful tools to defend life. Please pray for me and all our priests, and for each other. Know that I pray always for all of you. May the Lord of Life give us His Holy Spirit for the work that we must do and suffer, and may His every blessing and consolation fill your hearts with peace and joy.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

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