THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Gratitude, Celebration, Preparation
Bishop James R. Golka

THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Gratitude, Celebration, Preparation

By Bishop James R. Golka

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart . . .” — Joel 2:12

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, we are invited to let the first words of the First Reading for Ash Wednesday shape our annual Lenten journey. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart . . . ”

The prophet Joel’s words 24 centuries ago were a plea to the people to fully give themselves over to God and thus avoid a looming natural disaster.  Our Lenten call to renew our commitments to prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a plea for us to fully give ourselves over to God and thus embrace the spiritual victory of Easter.

As we prepare to go forward in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, I take a moment to look back and express my gratitude for your generosity during last year’s Diocesan Ministry Appeal (DMA).  With profound gratitude, I humbly reflect on the charity that the united people of our diocese exhibited this past year.  We met or exceeded our goals, and because of your generosity in the giving of alms, we are able to continue to meet the needs of the people we are privileged to serve.

Several ministerial areas our diocese supports are worth our attention. Our Respect Life Apostolate once again represented the diocese at the March for Life last month. Julie Bailey led 32 teens and adults of our diocese to Washington, D.C. They, along with tens of thousands of other like-minded souls, braved frigid weather and lent their voices to remind our nation that the most defenseless among us, our unborn brothers and sisters, are still at risk.  Their witness, and ours as well, is vital as we note that even in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of children are lost every year to the tragedy of abortion.

I also invite you to read the profile of the fascinating Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster on page 10, authored by permanent deacon candidate Clarence “CJ” Johnson. The story of Sister Lancaster’s life of service to the Church and community is remarkable. Just as remarkable is the recent discovery that her body has remained incorrupt years after her death.  The story of her life and labor is a fitting way to acknowledge the beginning of Black History month.

We just completed the annual Catholic Schools Week, and a fitting way for all of us to conclude this important celebration is to read the article on St. Mary’s High School on Page 8 of this issue. Your generosity to the DMA opens the door to Catholic education for hundreds of local families who might not otherwise be able to enroll their children in our excellent Catholic elementary schools and high schools.

Of the many joys that come with being a bishop, spending time in each of our Catholic schools, particularly during Catholic Schools Week, is near the top of my list. As I encounter these faithful, joyful and capable young people, I am reminded that they are not only our future, in many ways they are our now.

If your children or grandchildren are not enrolled in one of our Catholic schools, I encourage you to reach out, schedule a tour, and see how we can help you make a values-based Catholic education possible for your family. Catholic education is not free, but neither is it just an “expense.” A Catholic education is truly a wise investment in the future of our children, and the future of our Church.

These are just a few of the many ways our diocese impacts our local and extended communities.  As the 2024 DMA campaign begins, and as the Lenten season approaches, I invite all of us to recommit ourselves to the prayer, fasting and almsgiving that should be the central focus of our Lenten journey into a deeper friendship with Jesus Christ. 

Finally, all of us in the Diocese of Colorado Springs have a special reason to be grateful and celebrate.  This past Jan. 30, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of our diocese. With humble gratitude,  I offer my thanks to Bishop Hanifen, Bishop Sheridan and the many, many faithful members of this diocese for their willingness to fully give themselves over to God by bringing the message and mission of Jesus Christ to central Colorado.

With our “whole heart,” let us join our voices and prayers together across our entire diocese as we express our gratitude for our many blessings, celebrate our many accomplishments, and prepare for the Lenten Season.

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