Welcome, new Catholics

In this season of “Alleluias,” we sing a loud and joyful one to praise God for the hundreds of new Catholics in our diocese — and the tens of thousands nationwide — who entered into full communion with the church at the Easter vigil.

Every one of these individuals has a unique story of faith that brought them to our parish and diocesan families. Every one had companions on their journey — spouses, friends, RCIA staff and volunteers, parish priests — who invested time and prayers with them, taught them, embodied Christ for them and shared in their joy as they received the sacraments.

We share that joy, too. We welcome them to the community of faith we love, and we thank God for the many gifts these new Catholics bring to their parishes and our diocese.

Those who listen to certain voices in our culture, or read only headlines that focus on controversy and scandal, may be surprised to learn that our church is growing. The individuals who entered our church at Easter joined a spiritual family that numbers 1.166 billion worldwide, and increased 19 million in 2008 alone, the last year of records.

People continue to be led to the hope, joy, and mercy of the Risen Christ and His Church. The Holy Spirit still enkindles fire in hearts.

May Easter 2010 be just the start of a richly fulfilling spiritual journey for our newest Catholics. Your presence and witness enriches us in so many ways. Those of us with years in the church would do well to show our gratitude to our new Catholics, and to God, by finding ways to make our welcome last beyond a day or a season. — Thomas J. Dermody

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Give pope a gift

Pope Benedict XVI turns 83 years old on April 16. Three days later, he marks the fifth anniversary of his election as the Vicar of Christ.
One gift can cover both milestones: the gift of prayer. Maybe attend an extra Mass. Remember him in your family prayer before a meal. In this diocesan Year of the Rosary, offer at least a decade for the pope and his intentions.
In accepting the call to represent Christ on earth and shepherd the world’s Catholics, Pope Benedict has given his life for us. At an age where most of us will be long retired, he has spent the last five years giving hundreds of speeches and homilies, writing three encyclicals, making 13 foreign trips, proclaiming Christ daily to pilgrims in person and through new Web sites, and bearing the administrative crosses large and small the job entails.
He’s enduring a large cross now, in the form of fallout from the priestly sex abuse crisis.
Joseph of Arimathea helped Jesus carry his cross. With our prayers this week, let’s help His Vicar carry this one as well as the many others he bears on our behalf. — Thomas J. Dermody

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