Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As he was about to ascend to his Father, Jesus told his apostles: "Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world! "(Mt. 28:18b-20).

This mandate of the Lord is meant for every one of his disciples. Today Christ calls each and every one of us to affirm our discipleship and take the Good News of his love to all the world. Pope Francis has emphasized our call to discipleship, especially in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of The Gospel). "Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are 'disciples' and 'missionaries,' but rather that we are always 'missionary disciples'" (# 120).

Our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Forming Communities of Missionary Disciples, is our response to Jesus and his vicar on earth. It is what we will be intensely about as a local Church for the next five years, so that we might then be life-long disciples. We must be a "Church permanently in mission," as the Holy Father often reminds us.

In this first year of our pastoral plan our goal is to own personally our baptismal identity and live it practically in our parish communities. I ask each of you to seek to deepen your identity as missionary disciples, at work in the vineyard of the Lord, and eager to make Christ known to all you meet.

I commend our plan, and all of you, to the loving care of Mary, the first disciple and Mother of the Church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan
Bishop of Colorado Springs