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Reflections on appointment
to diocese, generosity of people

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Archbishop Charles Chaput

As you might guess, I am delighted to hear the good news of the appointment by our Holy Father of the new Archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput, who was my bishop before I was yours. I ask you to pray for him. He’s walking into a big job – a very large diocese at a very difficult moment in its history – and he can use the prayerful support of the faithful everywhere. Please pray also for the faithful of Philadelphia, that by their unity and fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, they may be open to the healing of the Holy Spirit through His servant, Archbishop Chaput; and for the faithful of Denver, who will greatly miss their shepherd, that they may keep open their hearts and souls to welcome a new bishop in turn.

Archbishop Chaput’s appointment, gives me a chance to reflect on the importance of the will of God in our lives. We all tend to think, of course, that we’re open to the will of God and hospitable to His servants. At our best, this is true, but far too often, we let ourselves be fooled into believing that our own will is what God really wants for us, rather than conforming our will to His. St. Paul reminds us that we must test every spirit, every impulse and inclination, to see if it is from God. And we know those that are of God, as St. Francis de Sales said, by charity and necessity. God’s generous mercy is freely given, but when we accept His mercy, we reject whatever is contrary to His charity, and to the necessity of His loving regard. These are the fruits that allow us to test, and to perfect, our own obedience to our glorious King. It takes a lot of prayer and humility, therefore, and the daily practice of a generous obedience – to our spouse, to our parents, to our children, to the needs of our neighbor, and to the Church our Mother – to make this choice a habit, and this habit a virtue. I’m very grateful for all of you, who welcomed me into this diocese. And I pray daily that I will remain as loyally obedient to you, serving you in your real spiritual and material needs in our Lord Jesus Christ, as you will remain obedient also to me, your shepherd.

Only through such mutual submission will the Church flourish, and be able to proclaim with joy the Good News of our Savior’s Resurrection. And, having this unifying motive, she also relies on the same charity and necessity to receive the material means of completing her mission.

DIOCESAN ANNUAL APPEAL

Once again I am amazed and so very grateful for the generosity of all of you, who supported our successful 2010 Diocesan Annual Appeal. Despite the flooding this summer, despite our general economic troubles, your love for the Church continues to be expressed in your concrete gifts of money, and of your even more valued time and prayer. Thank you! Because of you, we will be able to offer many vital diocesan programs, such as marriage preparation workshops, the Diocesan Faith and Ministries Conference, and the women’s program ENDOW, to name just a few examples. Also because of your generosity, we will once again be able to hold our goal at the same $1.5 million for the 2011 DAA. You will be hearing from me soon more about our next appeal.

All the programs supported and aided by you and your prayers, help our parishes and particular groups of the faithful to grow in the faith, so that the light of faith may be revealed ever more brightly, to dispel the shadows of the culture of death that surrounds us. And while these programs are important, they’re only a means to the end. I have shared with you in my Pastoral Letter my vision for our diocese. The flourishing of our Church, here in northwest Iowa and the conversion of the culture of death calls us to have greater devotion to the Eucharist. Our submission to the yoke of our Lord Jesus Christ means that we work for that continuing interior conversion, through Penance and daily charity, which prepares us to receive and adore Him in the Eucharist. As we grow in this interior holiness, we will become better husbands and wives, parents and children, and we will find the grace of Christ renewing the hearts of our families also. For the love of Christ for His spotless Bride so closely resembles the love between husband and wife, and between parents and children. It is the same self-giving love, willing to bear great burdens for the good of the beloved, just as He did and does for us. And from the holy witness of these Christ-bearing homes will come many strong vocations – to the priesthood and to religious life, and to married life, to teach and model the faith in the Church and in the world, for the salvation of many souls and the glory of God’s name. All these themes are reflected in the initiatives I have shared with you in my Pastoral Letter, Ecclesia Semper Reformanda “The Church is Always in Need of Renewal.” These are important for all of us to remember and embrace.

I’m especially grateful to all my brother priests, who give so freely of themselves as priests and pastors for Christ’s mission. They bring you Christ in the sacraments, so that you can bring Him out to the whole world in the holy witness of your lives, in your words and deeds. Together, the Head and the Body offer a single work of praise to the almighty Father!

May His peace and grace continue to fill all your hearts and minds. I hope you enjoy these fleeting weeks of summer’s heat, before we turn our thoughts back to another new academic year in our schools and parish programs. Please pray for me, as I keep all of you in my prayers daily.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City


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