By Bishop Gerald R. Barnes
“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The Lord Jesus challenges us in Luke’s Gospel to focus on what lies before us rather than on the familiarity of what has happened to us in the past.
For many of us this goes against our nature. It is easier for us to set our course based on experience and probability. But that is not the way of hope, a virtue that comes not from what we have seen or experienced but from what our faith tells us can happen.
“Hope” is a word we use a lot in our local Church. It is the capstone of our Diocesan vision and it is often found in our communal prayers, homilies and in the statements of purpose for many ministries. We seek to fill lives with… hope.
Hope requires us to look forward and it seems a good time, as we prepare to begin a new year and as we close the book on our first 40 years as a Diocese, to reflect on our hopes – for ourselves, for our families, and for our Church. In that spirit, I offer you some of mine for 2019 and beyond.
…that our Catholic families deepen and embrace their role as “domestic church,” and being the primary teacher of the faith to their children.
…that clergy and lay ministers engage in true collaboration to meet the many, many needs that are present among the faithful in our parishes, and that they commit themselves to ongoing formation.
…that the pain our Church is once again experiencing in the area of clergy sexual abuse leads us to make the reforms that are needed to ensure accountability of all and protection of the vulnerable from harm.
…that our country’s handling of the current migration crisis at the southern border is characterized by dialogue and mercy as well as justice.
…that communities of faith in our Diocese carry and keep alive the spirit of V Encuentro, as they begin to live the dreams and face the challenges presented in this fruitful dialogue.
…that our diocesan youth traveling to Panama for World Youth Day have a life changing experience that brings them closer to God and fortified in their Catholic faith, and leads them to being missionary disciples.
…that new churches under construction in Perris and Coachella are completed and building begins as scheduled on new churches in Fontana (St. Mary) and Wildomar.
…that the Holy Spirit guide both our Diocese and the Vatican as we enter a period of Episcopal transition.
…that our youth respond to the Lord’s call to consecrate their lives in vocations to the priesthood, religious life and the diaconate.
…that all of us assist our youth to continue their education.
…that the people of our Diocese will practice Faithful Citizenship, involving themselves in the greater community and respectfully bringing Catholic values to matters of public policy and civic participation.
…that our Catholic schools are successful in promoting the many virtues of Catholic education while also being inclusive of all in the communities they serve.
…that those who have left our Church hear the call to return to the roots of their faith.
…that we join efforts to address the issues that plague our communities, including abortion, homelessness, physical and mental illness, violence in our streets and families, racism, addictions and suicide.
…that God will continue to grant me the health and the strength to serve you as your bishop to the best of my abilities.
Happy New Year to you and my prayers for a blessed 2019.