October - a busy month
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This past Saturday, I had the privilege of ordaining four married men of our diocese to the order of deacon. The Cathedral was filled with well wishes and family of the newly ordained. The beautiful ceremony was enhanced by thirty priests and most of our ordained deacons and candidates. We celebrated the ordination on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. He is one of our most well known and best loved saints. He was a deacon, never ordained a priest. As I remind our new deacons, St. Francis looked to serve the poor, the forgotten and the neglected.
They must be ready to do the same. The word “deacon” comes from a Greek word that means “to serve”. Our diocese is blessed with forty deacons and ten men preparing for diaconate ordination. These men are a great blessing to us and to the priests and parishes where they serve. Not only do they assist the priest at Mass, preach and teach, baptize, witness marriages and perform funeral and burial rites, they also witness to service.
The men I ordained last Saturday are all married men with families. Their wives and children are wonderfully supportive of their ministry. If you, or someone you know, are interested in serving the people of God as a deacon, please contact Dr. David Lopez here at the Chancery for more information at DavidL@scdiocese.org or 712-233-7512.
The fall season of Confirmation has begun. Last Sunday morning I traveled to Holy Family Parish in Emmetsburg to celebrate the Eucharist and confirm twenty nine young people. I was welcomed by Father Clem Currans and his wonderful staff. I enjoy so much the chance to be with our young people at times like this. The sacrament they receive makes a difference in their lives. The sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit that they receive enables them to do great things for the Church and the world. They become a leaven and light in our society and among their family and friends. With wisdom and courage, these young people are sent forth to bring the light of Christ to those who live in darkness and to those so easily mislead by the temptations and false gods our world presents. Please pray for all our youth who will be confirmed this year. May the flame of the Holy Spirit inspire them to make a difference now and in the future. May some of them respond positively to the call of God to serve as priests, deacons or consecrated persons.
BISHOP’S DINNER FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
On Sunday afternoon I joined hundreds of people at the Sioux City Convention Center who support our Catholic Schools. This event is always a highlight of my yearly schedule. Young and old gather to show support and contribute financially to the Catholic Schools in our diocese. Kristie Arlt and her wonderful staff, Mary and Rick Kneip from St. Joseph Parish in Le Mars, and the planning committee did a wonderful job in organizing a very successful event. Dave Ferris was the Master of Ceremonies and kept the whole group aware of the Broncos score during the event. (They won!) We were treated by remarks of an extraordinary man, Guy Doud from Minnesota, the 1986 Teacher of the Year for the United States. Mr. Doud inspired us with his humor, stories and challenges about the value of Catholic education and the importance of being “molders and builders” of dreams. I was struck by his love of the Catholic faith and devotion the Church. As a convert from being a Protestant pastor, he touched us all with his sincerity and joy. May God continue to bless all his work.
We honored four outstanding teachers: Mary Arens from St. Mary’s Grade and High School in Remsen, Michelle Lauck from Sacred Heart School in Spencer, Lynette Schweers from Kuemper Catholic School in Carroll, and Ann Wiederspan from Sacred Heart School of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools, Sioux City.
Father Jerry Cosgrove was honored as a priest who has and continues to support the values of Catholic Schools throughout his priestly ministry. Tim Blum, the husband of late Marilyn Blum, former principal at Bishop Heelan High School, accepted the award for Administrator of the Year on behalf of his wife. He reminded us all of Marilyn’s love of teaching and her inspiration to us all. Thank you to all of you who support our Catholic schools. They are better because of you.
40 DAYS FOR LIFE
Last Wednesday afternoon, I dropped by the vigil of prayer on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood on 4409 Stone Avenue here in Sioux City. I joined others in praying the rosary for an end to abortion in our world and specifically an end to the abortions performed monthly at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic here in Sioux City. I encourage all of us to keep up our efforts of prayer, fasting and vigil during these 40 days ending November 2. The evil of abortion can only be eliminated by the power of God and His grace for Life. Our prayer and work is making a difference. All over our country good things are happening. I’d like to share with you a story that appeared in a recent newsletter for 40 Days for Life:
“The call to participate in 40 Days for Life is a call to sacrifice. It's a call that, when answered, often brings unexpected joy, as seen in these postings from the 40 Days for Life blog:
* Angela wrote, "I am so excited to see so many people arriving at these clinics to pray for
* Pat noted, "I am so grateful for the 40 days of prayer and fasting. Praise Jesus!"
* Julie said, "I believe this campaign could be the beginning of the end of abortion in this country. In my adult life, I have yet to dare to have that hope -- until now.
Unexpected joy arrived one evening at the 40 Days for Life vigil outside the Planned Parenthood location in Sioux City as people gathered to pray.
A bus from Michigan broke down at the fast food restaurant right across the street. The bus was carrying a Christian drama team -- including 13 children with disabilities. The assistant director saw the vigil across the street, so he walked over and started asking questions.
Stormy, one of the vigil participants had a bunch of questions for him as well. When she found out who they were and what they did, she asked if they would put on a play -- right then and there.
"They did! Right there, facing Planned Parenthood, these special kids and friends re-enacted the Passion of Christ," Mary reports. "The young man who portrayed Jesus had Down syndrome. He stretched out his arms and 'hung on the cross.'"
The assistant director said he cries every time he watches the kids do this play. "It might have something to do with the actor playing Jesus," she said, "who gets so emotional that he can't stop crying."
Before they left from their home town of Holland, Mich., their principal had told them that he didn't know when or where, but he just had a feeling they would hold one additional performance at a time and place that was not listed on their original schedule.
"We are sure glad it was here," said Mary. "They were terrific and they were so pleased to perform for people who respect all life. Their replacement bus arrived just after the kids were able to receive lots of applause and thanks and a 40 Days for Life bracelet."
The death of the innocent Lord and Savior -- staged in front of Planned Parenthood, an organization responsible for ending hundreds of thousands of innocent lives every year; performed by special needs children, upon whom the abortion industry has declared open season -- how powerful!
There is indeed joy. And there is indeed hope.”
Thank you to Mary Stevens, Mark Thomason, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, the Knights of Columbus and so many more who are working so hard for 40 Days for Life. Remember to do what you can, on your own or with others to support this worthy cause.
Finally, I encourage all of you to pray the rosary often this month. The rosary is a powerful prayer and through the intercession of Mary the Mother of God, great things can happen in our families and in our diocese.
May the Lord continue to bless you all. My great joy and privilege is to serve you as Shepherd and Bishop. Thank you for all your prayerful support. May the Lord of the Harvest, bless us all.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
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