July closes Fortnight for Freedom, brings pastor changes
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
May these warm July days find you well and enjoying the fruits of the summer. Thank you all once again for your wonderful participation in the Fortnight for Freedom. I want to especially thank all of our pastors whose parishes participated in these two weeks of prayer and action.
The recent Supreme Court decision on the "individual mandate" means that we still have much to do to make sure that our Religious Liberty issues and Freedom of Conscience rights are respected and acknowledged as valid. As you might guess, I have heard from some in our diocese that this kind of "political talk" should not be heard from our pulpits. I could not disagree more. As Catholics, we must be knowledgeable of the truths of our faith regarding any number of so called "political issues.”
As we continue to live as Catholics in a society that more and more seems to be rejecting religious values and even God Himself, we must know the truth and live and speak it in love. Religious Freedom, defense of marriage as between one man and one woman, the evil of abortion and contraception, the immorality of euthanasia and many more issues still need to be discussed and shared in as many forums as possible. The preaching at Mass on Sundays gives the Church the opportunity to clearly convey our Social Doctrine in conjunction with the Word of God that we hear proclaimed at each Mass.
Thank you to all of the priests, deacons and laity who know the Church's clear teaching on these issues and who are not afraid to proclaim them in the word and deed.
As you know, several of our parishes will receive new pastors and administrators on July 17. Change is never easy for any of us. Many of you who will see your present pastor move on to other assignments or to retirement, will sadly miss the priest who has so faithfully served you in the past. Please pray for him and thank God for the priestly ministry he has provided you.
Our priests do go through a grieving process as well. In a real sense a parish community is a family for them and now they must leave to other duties and responsibilities in a new parish community. It is not always easy. To those of you who will receive a new pastor please welcome him gladly. Make him feel at home by your kind words, your hospitability and most of all by your supportive prayer. Our priests were ordained to "give their lives" for you the flock they will shepherd. They do so lovingly and generously.
With fewer priests and more and more responsibilities given to them, we must make sure that they take care of themselves and feel our support. They cannot do everything. They do not have unlimited time to be available to everyone all the time. I know you will respect their time off, the time they need for prayer and spiritual growth, the time they need for rest and relaxation. Our priests work very hard and I am so proud that our Diocese is blessed with many dedicated, committed and holy priests. Affirm them, thank them and pray for them!
My dear sisters and brothers, I close these brief thoughts this week with deep appreciation and gratitude to you all. Thank you for faithfully living your faith. Thank you for your prayers for me and the work I have been called to do as your Bishop. It is an honor for me to serve you.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend Walker Nickless
P.S. It won't be long before the Broncos first pre-season games. Bronco fans will miss Tim Tebow, but we look forward to great things with Peyton Manning!
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