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Two ordinations and national campaign on agenda

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Ordination to priesthood

This Saturday, June 2, I will be most joyful to ordain Deacon Pat Behm to the holy priesthood. I ask you all to join me in welcoming him to serve our diocese, and especially in praying for him with devotion. Obedient to the will of our Lord, Deacon Pat will take up the Cross – a Cross often heavy with responsibility and sacrifice, but also easy to bear because of the grace and joy of Christ’s own priestly office. In a very special way, our Lord carries His Cross again in our priests.

June 2 is also the memorial of two early Roman martyrs, killed in 303 or 304 for defending the Church against the predatory laws of the emperor Diocletian. Saints Marcellinus and Peter were a priest and an exorcist, respectively, who converted their jailer to the Faith when they were arrested and awaiting execution. Because of this reputation, it seems, they were taken outside the city and killed in secret, to prevent the faithful from properly burying their bodies and celebrating their martyrdom. But two pious women found them, and they were buried and venerated in the Catacombs. I pray that these saints, who embraced the Cross of Christ to the very end, will always inspire and protect Father Behm in his priestly ministry.

Ordination to diaconate

A week later, on June 9, the feast of St. Ephraim of Syria, deacon and doctor of the Church, I will also ordain four men to the permanent diaconate. St. Ephraim is a fitting patron for them, because of how well and how faithfully he preached the Gospel to both pagans and Arian heretics in Syria. As deacons, these men will preach the Gospel of salvation with the whole of their lives. This will make nineteen permanent deacons I will have ordained as your bishop. We are very grateful to the Holy Spirit for calling such a profusion of this special vocation to share in the apostolic ministry. There is always more to do for God and for neighbor than hands to carry out the work. Please continue to pray for these men and for their families, and for more vocations to the holy priesthood and diaconate.

Fortnight for Freedom

I hope you have heard about the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom, from June 21 to July 4. My brother bishops and I remain very concerned about attacks on the Church from our increasingly secular public square. Our religious liberty is not as secure as it was even a decade ago. In many areas, but most especially in the areas touching on marriage and health care, we encounter more and more straitened limits on our rights and opportunities to teach the Gospel, and to act according to those teachings. Most egregiously, of course, the “HHS Mandate” would require God-fearing individuals and many Catholic institutions to violate our own consciences, by forcing us to provide access to, and to pay for, health insurance policies covering contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.

The Fortnight for Freedom is taking place in every diocese across the country. We are asking first and foremost for prayer. Prayer is always our most effective weapon in the spiritual battle. Please pray for the protection of the Church, and our freedom to live the fullness of the Faith without restriction. Living the faith is the most convincing evangelization for so many of our neighbors. When others see our consistency, and our joy in sacrifice, and our unshakable conviction, they may be attracted to Christ.

Elsewhere in this edition of The Catholic Globe, you will find more information about the Fortnight for Freedom, including the plan for our diocese, and suggestions for how you can participate. Please let your pastor know if you are willing to help organize and lead some part of this prayerful effort to defend the Church and the Faith.

Finally, I ask you again to continue to pray for me, that I may lead you well as your shepherd. Please pray for your pastors and for our seminarians, and for many more vocations to Holy Orders to flourish among us. Please pray for strong and stable marriages and holy families, and for those who will accept the vocation to married life this summer. I pray also for all of you. May our Lord Jesus Christ pour out His mercy and consolation upon us, and fill us with every good thing and every spiritual blessing, until we see Him in Heaven, our true homeland.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

 


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