Friday, December 26, 2008
It's sung by a family with seven kids, who aren't apparently Catholic (One of the common accusations against large families).
It really resonates with me because I'm the oldest in a family with 10 kids and have heard my mom field all of these "stranger comments" - even from friends and family. With my parents included, we had enough people for each person to hold a card for each day of the 12 days of Christmas without doubling up. (H/T to Barbara Curtis)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Some people had asked for the name of the artwork we used on the cover of The Key's Christmas issue. At left, it is Madonna with Sleeping Child by Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506). You can get a pretty large digital version of the painting at wiki.
Wiki also has several other paintings by Mantegna here.
Some relevant to the Christmas season are presented in this post.
Merry Christmas from The Catholic Key.
With one shopping day left in the Christmas Season, guest blogger Leon Suprenant, reminds us how the modern day Grinch steals not the externals of Christmas, but its true spirit. My wife perfectly summed up how pervasive is the misplaced Christmas spirit today when she asked, "What's the original song to 'Give a Give a Give a Garmin?'"
This article appears in the current print edition of The Catholic Key:
Don’t Let the Grinches Steal This Christmas
By Leon Suprenant
I have to admit that my favorite Christmas movie, far and away, is It’s a Wonderful Life. However, I’d have to say that How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is in my top three. I’m not talking about the more recent Jim Carrey version, but the older, animated version that has been a Christmas-time favorite for decades.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is truly an endearing story—all the more so for me as my little Abigail Rose has always reminded my wife and me of little Cindy Lou Who.
But is the story real? In other words, are there really any Grinches in the world? Is there anyone so foolish as to want to destroy Christmas?
On one level, the Grinch is in each one of us, just as each of us share in the burden of Frodo’s ring, to borrow from another classic, The Lord of the Rings. The sheer weight of human brokenness and sin impels us at times to perversely reject what is good. It all started in a garden, where our first parents rejected paradise.
For that reason, Christmas is for everybody. We all need good news. We all need divine grace to heal the “Grinch” in us, so that we may be filled anew with awe and wonder as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
In another sense, there are still Grinches around today, but they’ve largely changed their approach since the day the first Grinch graced the pages of children’s literature. We might recall that the original Grinch attacked Christmas by taking away all the external decorations and gifts from the Whos of Whoville. What the Grinch didn’t realize was that the spirit of Christmas would continue to live on in the hearts of the people.
Today’s Grinches don’t want to take away the externals, but rather to magnify them. They want to embellish the commercial aspect of the holiday. The “spirit” or “true meaning” of Christmas may not be explicitly denied, but it is seemingly rendered irrelevant amidst the shopping frenzy and the mantra “Season’s Greetings!”.
Rather than use the liturgical season of Advent to mark the time of preparation for Christmas, we’re now taught to diligently keep track of the number of shopping days until the blessed event. Instead of celebrating the season of Christmas between December 25th and the feast of the Epiphany (i.e., the visit of the Magi—January 4th this year), today’s Grinches see this time as one for returning gifts, after-Christmas sales, taking down Christmas decorations, and approximately 35 bowl games (but who’s counting).
These Grinches, of course, are those who want to exploit Christmas, not celebrate it.
While the commercialization of Christmas in most instances is simply motivated by economic gain, there unfortunately have arisen pseudo-philosophies—like that reflected by the Ayn Rand Institute—that actually propose a Christmas without Christ. In other words, they’re offering us the shell without the pearl of great price.
Perhaps a gospel of selfishness is attractive to some people today, given the rampant consumerism of our society. And if it’s really about the “stuff,” then we might as well be honest about it.
But let’s make no mistake. The joy, festivity, and goodness that we associate with Christmas isn’t found on the Internet or at the mall. Rather, our cause for celebration is found in a manger in Bethlehem, where the eternal Word of God was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There simply is no Christmas without Christ.
Some secularists consider unbridled selfishness and consumerism without “Christian guilt” and “self-sacrifice” as enlightened, virtuous behavior, but it’s really an empty, self-destructive path. In fact, that’s why Christ took on human flesh—to save us and to show us a better way.
Our ultimate happiness entails giving of ourselves to God and others in imitation of Christ. Sure, we give gifts as signs of our love for others. Of course, we hang lights to celebrate Christ as the light of the world. But we ought not confound the signs with the realities they signify—that’s exactly what the Grinches want us to do.
How we reflect the glory of Christmas in our external celebrations is important, because we’re material, social beings. But woe to us if in the process of exchanging gifts this Christmas we fail to recognize the presence of the Giver of all gifts, who so loved us that He sent His Son to be our Redeemer.
May we bear witness to this reality and in the process melt the hearts of Grinches everywhere.
Leon Suprenant is the director of program development for School of Faith, a Catholic organization based in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The Investiture Mass begins at 9:00 a.m. All are welcome. Please note the time, as an incorrect time was published in the print edition of The Catholic Key.
Old St. Patrick is located at 806 Cherry Street in Kansas City.
And while we're mentioning the Benedictines, remember their beautiful voices on the "Echoes of Ephesus" CD is available for sale at their website.
Cold temperatures hit Our Lady of Guadalupe School
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — The coat-and-stocking-capped kindergartner trotted out of his classroom, arms stiff at his sides, teeth chattering, “Cold! Cold, cold,” and disappeared into another room. The temperature inside the 93-year-old Our Lady of Guadalupe School building at 23rd and Madison hovered in the balmy 30s. Electric space heaters provided what little heat there was.
On Dec.12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Connie Bowman, principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School and staff members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine next door noticed that a small leak in the boiler in the heating plant shared by the shrine and the school had gotten worse; the pilot light was extinguished. Bowman called in U.S. Engineers to check it out.
(Fourth grader Patrick Razo works on the computer in a chilly classroom. Behind him, Devin Miller, grade 5, and Manuel Sainz, grade 4, work mouse and keyboards with gloves.)
The diagnosis was poor. The boiler, which was only about 25 years old, had tried to operate with pipes that had rusted out. The boiler gave up and gave out, leaving the school and shrine without heat. Their only solution was to replace the boiler.
U.S. Engineers estimated a replacement boiler would cost $45,000, installed.
Bowman and the shrine association ordered the new boiler.
Shrine Association members pledged half the replacement cost: $22,500. Bowman remains confident that the school can raise the other half.
“The fact that it happened on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe has us hoping that means Mary wants us here for a very long time in a warm building,” Bowman said.
She cancelled an all-school Mass on Dec. 12 and the Christmas program, both of which were to take place in the shrine.
Guadalupe Center around the corner offered their facilities for the students, so for four days teachers and kids lugged books, supplies and other things to the center and then back to the school at the end of the day. Dec. 19 was a half-day and Bowman decided to keep the students at the school and sing Christmas carols (including new songs including, “Frosty the First Grader” and All I want for Christmas is a new Boiler,”) or play/practice on computers.
Bowman was proud of the students.” The kids are troopers, she said. They’ve been real good about keeping up with their school work in the midst of all the chaos. Moving from school to Guadalupe Center in the cold and being cooped up in the building all day with no recess. They were real troopers.”
And the teachers were heroes, she added. “Especially the kindergarten and first grade teachers had to carry all sorts of extra equipment with them, more than just spelling and reading books. They took it much better that I expected.
“The only complaint I’ve heard was ‘Can we keep our coats on?’ Everyone has just taken it in stride. They’ve handled the challenge well,” she said.
(Kindergartners, first and second graders gather around the piano in the music room singing songs from their cancelled Christmas program.)
The school sent out a call telling of their plight and asking for help. Earlier this week Vince Cascone, principal of Visitation School, walked into Guadalupe Center with several students and handed Bowman a check for $1,000 toward the boiler.
Another principal has scheduled a “jeans day” and expects to raise about $300. Bowman is confident the school, with help from its sister schools and donations from generous individuals, will be able to raise the money for the new boiler.
When the students return to school on Jan. 5, they’ll lug their books and supplies to Guadalupe Center, at least for that week. The installation of the new boiler should be complete by Jan. 9, Bowman said. Meanwhile, the school community will continue to work on figuring out how to pay for the new boiler.
Donations may be made on-line by visiting www.centralcityschoolfund.org and clicking on the boiler fund link. Those wishing to send a check can mail it to the Central City School Fund, P.O. Box 419037, Kansas City, MO 64141-6037.
Friday, December 19, 2008
(13-year-old Jesus served at Mass for Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City - St. Joseph at Holy Cross Church on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.)
The form of immigration policy in the U.S. is continually debated and never resolved by those responsible - namely, the U.S. Congress. Consequently, states and bureaucracies take over with sometimes disastrous consequences.
The Catholic Key this week looked at the practical effect of a failed immigration policy on one family and that family's community: A mother who's lived and worked and paid taxes here legally for two decades is forced back to a city and country she no longer knows, leaving three U.S. citizen children to fend for themselves. One daughter becomes the mother of her two grade school siblings and the local Catholic Church comes to aid a family the state seeks to divide.
Below is Marty Denzer's "Three Children Left Behind" from this week's Catholic Key print edition:
KANSAS CITY - She's not much older than a child herself, but Leslie, 20, has stepped into the breach left by her mother's voluntary return to Mexico to care for and raise her brother and sister.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, immigration and legalization issues have become hugely important. Attaining legalization and citizenship has, in the words of Jean Ferrara, principal of Holy Cross School, gotten so ridiculously long and expensive a process that it has created a third class of people - the vulnerable.
Researchers from the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., have found that there are more than 3 million children born in the United States with one or both parents whose residency status is questioned.
Jesus (13) and Marbhely (14) attended Holy Cross School for several years before Immigration and Naturalization Services came for their mother, Maria Gonzalez.
Leslie, the oldest of four children, said her mother came to the United States legally more than 20 years ago and settled in California. She married and her four children were born in California. Six or seven years ago, Maria, having made the decision to separate from her husband, moved to Kansas City with the children. Shortly before the move, Maria's purse and personal documents were stolen.
The market for false documents and stolen Social Security numbers is a booming one, and legal residents with Hispanic last names are particularly vulnerable. In a recent story in The Kansas City Star, Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego and a victim of identity theft herself, said identities can be bought for as little as $30. Good quality counterfeits can cost more, she said, and stolen identities can be sold over and over again.
Not knowing this, Maria filed a police report and figured all she had to do was replace the documents - especially her Social Security card and drivers license.
She replaced the documents and moved to Kansas City's Old Northeast, where she had family and friends, and enrolled the younger children in Holy Cross School. Leslie attended Northeast Junior High and High School.
Maria got involved with Holy Cross Parish and the community. The little family survived two home burglaries and began looking into another place to live. They found a home they liked and started the move-in process.
"My mom made a lot of sacrifices to get this house and send Marbhely and Jesus to Holy Cross," Leslie said.
One Sunday morning in July, shortly before Leslie's 20th birthday, Maria went grocery shopping. There was a knock on the door. Leslie answered and found Immigration and Naturalization agents asking for her mother. She said the agents refused to tell her why and left.
"When my mom got home, we told her about the INS agents, she panicked. We were all panicky, so we went to my auntie's house. We had never had anything like this happen before," Leslie remembered.
Maria contacted an immigration attorney to look into the situation. Within a few days she learned that it was a case of identity theft, but INS authorities suspected that Maria might have been involved in the theft for profit and tracked her to Kansas City. Her attorney advised that as she was unable to prove otherwise, it would be better for her to return to Mexico voluntarily rather than face deportation.
"Mom had been in this country more than 20 years. Her lawyer told her that she'd just have to go back to Mexico and fight her way back," Leslie said.
Rather than letting Maria return alone to a village in Mexico where she knew no one anymore, Leslie, Marbhely and Jesus accompanied her to the village she had left when she was 16. There was no family left there, no body they knew, only strangers.
Before they left, Maria contacted Ferrara for proof that the two younger children had been enrolled at Holy Cross, in part so that they could return to the U.S. with few hassles.
Leslie, who was still in school, had to return to Kansas City a week later.
"I didn't know what to do with myself when Marbhely and Jesus were still in Mexico," she said with a rueful laugh. "I was so used to getting them up and ready for school and taking care of them when my mom had to work or wasn't there, I just had no one and nothing to come home to."
Jesus returned to Kansas City shortly after Leslie. Marbhely came home at the end of September. Leslie was glad to see them.
"Now they are home and there is somebody to talk to and yell at. I'm not alone."
Marbhely liked Mexico but likes Kansas City more. "It was awesome and had some pretty cool cities, but the people were not so cool. I got to ride a donkey, which was cool. But there's a lot of crime there and it's better here."
Jesus was more succinct. "The village where mom lives now, Poz de Ibarra, is a little place with dirt roads. It's just not the same as the United States."
Marbhely said the village was in the center of a web of roads leading to a larger city.
"The houses are made of concrete and there are stores in the houses," she said.
After Leslie returned to Kansas City, she contacted Ferrara to see about getting her siblings back in the school. Ferrara said that when the children left at the end of the previous academic year, there remained unpaid tuition. As a matter of course, Catholic schools withhold grades when there is unpaid tuition or fees.
She worried about the two young teens so, following her conversation with Leslie, Ferrara worked out the past-due tuition issue with Marlon De La Torre, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, and re-enrolled Jesus and Marbhely.
De La Torre, who is of Hispanic heritage, said "Dignity tells me these children need an opportunity and we can offer it. They need assistance and if we can help, we'll help. Catholic social teaching says we should do what we can to help maintain the dignity of an individual. And that's what we try to do."
Leslie was relieved; she was concerned that Jesus, lacking a strong father-figure and without his mother's presence, might be ripe for recruitment by one of the more than 400 "community-based gangs" (gang members growing up on the same block, in the same area, or attending the same school) in Kansas City's central and northeast neighborhoods.
Ferrara said the gang recruiters, "Faganesque characters (as in the aging pickpocket recruiter in Dickens's Oliver Twist) go after and recruit children as young as fourth graders." The Kansas City Police Department Gang Squad estimates that 20 percent of gang members in the area are Hispanic, ranging in age from 12 to 49.
Ferrara described Jesus as "amazingly worthwhile, a beautiful kid whose only ticket to a future is Holy Cross."
Jesus said he liked computer classes best and is thinking about taking up karate classes.
Leslie added, "My mom enrolled them at Holy Cross and I want to keep them there to prevent Jesus from getting into a gang."
"Right," Jesus interjected. "It's always me and always my fault!"
Leslie said that when Jesus and Marbhely miss a homework assignment or something important, Ferrara calls her to let her know.
Leslie is attending nursing school at Penn Valley Community College and working full-time to support the three of them. An aunt and a family friend watch over the little family and give them advice and rides to and from school if needed. Maria’s second oldest child, a mother of two toddlers, Daniel and Ezekiel, helps with rides and stays with Jesus and Marbhely when she can. When they are at home, they stay in the house, a little afraid of street gangs and other not so nice people that venture into the area. The house is small, but immaculately kept.
Marbhely gives Leslie credit for taking care of them and keeping the family together, but she misses her mother.
“Even when I hate my sister and she gets on my nerves, I know she’s doing it for a reason. But it’s just not the same. We call mom and she calls us to make sure we’re doing our homework and watering her plants, but she’s not here to get on our nerves like other moms. I miss her a lot.”
Father Joe Cisetti, pastor of Holy Cross, Ferrara, De La Torre and their teachers do their best to shield the little family from the instability, isolation, fear and depression that often follows the departure of a parent.
Father Cisetti provided a Thanksgiving dinner for the little family a few weeks ago with donations from friends and parishioners.
“It was very nice,” Leslie said “You know, sometimes I am overwhelmed. I know I have a lot on my shoulders but who else is going to do it? I may have had to grow up too fast, but mom sacrificed to get us what we have and to keep Jesus and Marbhely in school. I want to keep things the ways she wanted them. I don’t want to be a failure in her eyes. We just have to be strong and keep God on our side.”
De La Torre and the Catholic Schools Office are planning to help with their Christmas.
Leslie put up a small tree and hung stockings nearby. The three young people said they were going to their sister’s house for Christmas. “We feel that family is more important than presents this holiday,” she said.
De La Torre said, “Maria did not do anything inherently wrong. She was here legally, then someone stole her purse and the system got her.”
Leslie nodded, “My mom is a good person with kids and grandbabies. She was on top of things.”
According to immigration attorney Suzanne Gladney, a person who is forced to leave the United States, either voluntarily as Maria did or deported, is eligible to return to the United States assuming they can be legally admitted. A sibling or child who is over the age of 21 and a legal resident, naturalized citizen or American- born, may apply for their re-admission. If the person has no family, an employer may apply.
“My mom is going through the process,” Leslie said. “She is doing paperwork and waiting for interviews. It’s going to take a while.
“We hope to go visit her in Mexico in January or February.”
In the meantime, if there are children under the age of 18 left behind who are eligible for public benefits, they can get them, Gladney said.
The three young people don’t talk too much about the situation they are in, because as Marbhely said, “It brings that horrible week all back.”
Leslie said, “We were just shaking, not sleeping or eating. We didn’t want our mom to go.”
De La Torre said, “These are just regular people who are trying to make it. This kind of thing happens more often than we know.
“We just have to have hope.”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Wishing you God’s Blessing for a Wonderful Christmas
Advent is quickly coming to an end. Whether we are fully prepared or not Our Lord comes, born into the world, and we celebrate His birth as the beginning of our salvation.
The Church has two greatest feasts: Christ’s birth at Christmas, and His death and Resurrection at Easter. The joyful prospect of God coming among us and uniting Himself to mankind in the Incarnation is what makes the redemption at Easter so powerful. Jesus Christ does not merely win the victory of life over death for our sakes. This is true enough and would be sufficient. But Christ, in a way, carries us with Himself through life, through death and into the resurrection. This is the act of Divine love: that God wanted to be with us so completely that He united humanity and divinity in one divine person, His Son Jesus Christ.
In order to accomplish this God called and invited the Blessed Virgin Mary to give Christ His flesh and blood. Mary consented, and is therefore rightly regarded as God’s cooperator in the Incarnation. She is the “mediatrix” or intermediary of the Incarnation. God made her a necessary part of the way he would redeem us. He could have decided to send Christ in a different way, but as St. Paul teaches us, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman.” (Gal 4:4)
This is not merely poetic language. The Church clearly embraced this mystery from the beginning, and within the first centuries of her existence, she would proclaim Mary, “Mother of God.” This relationship between Mary and Jesus endures even now, such that St. Peter Damien (11th century) would write in one of his sermons, “This same body of Christ that the most blessed Virgin brought forth, which she nourished in her womb, wrapped in swaddling clothes and brought up with motherly care: this same body, I say, and none other, we now perceive without any doubt on the sacred altar.”
God’s closeness to humanity was no mistake. It was His merciful decision. It is evident in the very way by which He wanted to redeem us – in utter unity and love. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14). He loved the fallen world, and pursued us in the full realization that in many ways we would continue to reject Him by our sins.
Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Mystici Corporis, explains how Christ fully knew His Church from the beginning and still loved us.
“The loving knowledge with which the Redeemer has pursued us from the first moment of His Incarnation surpasses all the powers of the human mind; for by means of the beatific vision, which he enjoyed from the time he was received into the womb of the Mother of God, He has for ever and continuously had present to Him all the members of His Mystical Body and embraced them with His saving love.”
As we celebrate the love of God for us at Christmas, we pray that we also will be able to see each other and love each other more and more as God does. May God purify us in this way so that when we receive His Body and Blood in the “Christ Mass” we will be more fit to welcome the Savior of the world.
Blessed Christmas to you all! May the Lord grant us peace and unity in the New Year.
Monday, December 15, 2008
1. Jeffrey Overstreet posts a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Advent:
"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes ... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."
See Jeffrey's journal, his most excellent movie reviews and buy his books here.
2. The Bishop of Little Rock, Most Rev. Anthony Basil Taylor posts a recent confirmation homily in which he explains the gifts of the Holy Spirit and why youth need them, excerpt:
Wisdom which helps us value the things of heaven regardless of what our friends think, which is certainly a big issue in adolescence,
Understanding which enables us to grasp the truths of religion like in Dignitas Personae, or for that matter, my pastoral letter on the human rights of immigrants,
Counsel which helps us see the best practical way to serve God in our own particular life, seeking the common good and not just our own perceived self-interest,
Fortitude which strengthens our resolve to resist temptation, including the temptations of the flesh which are so difficult during adolescence…and beyond, and the fortitude to overcome other obstacles as well,
Knowledge which helps us see the path to follow and recognize dangers to our faith,
Piety which leads us to a deeper prayer life that fills us with more and more love and affection for God, and confident eagerness to serve him, and
Fear of the Lord which means always seeking God’s approval, not human approval, obeying God’s law especially when to do so is difficult, for instance when God’s law conflicts with unjust human laws, fear of God rather than fear of man.
Lots more in that homily, including particularly interesting thoughts on John the Baptist. Facebook users can "friend him" and get all his homilies in English and Spanish.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Mensaje a la Parroquia de La Santa Cruz
Misa de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – Diciembre 12 del 2008
Reverendísimo Robert W. Finn
Obispo de Kansas City-San José
Queridos amigos en Cristo,
Saludos y mis más fervorosos deseos en esta Fiesta Solemne de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!
Estoy muy contento y lleno de paz al estar aquí con ustedes. Siento que nuestra Madre nos está diciendo, este día, las palabras que ella dijo a San Juan Diego:
“¿No soy tu Madre?”
“¿No estás bajo mi sombra?”
“¿No estás por ventura en mi regazo?”
A pesar de los desafíos de nuestro tiempo, sabemos que Nuestra Madre Bendita está con nosotros. Debemos mantener nuestra fe Católica como el centro de nuestra vida. Si hacemos esto sabemos que podemos vivir en la paz de nuestro Señor, aun cuando tenemos dificultades.
Les pido en este día que se unan conmigo para renovar su dedicación a dos necesidades muy especiales en nuestra sociedad.
La primera es la importancia central del matrimonio y la familia. Procuren ayudarse a crecer en la unidad y el amor rezando juntos: durante las comidas, rezando el rosario, y asistiendo a Misa juntos todos los domingos y los días de obligación. Cuando nuestras familias son lugares de oración, nos mantendremos fuertes y unidos.
Segundo: les pido que recen y trabajen para la protección de la vida humana. Bajo el amparo de Nuestra Madre, la Virgen de Guadalupe, estaremos determinados ha hacer todo lo que podamos para proteger la vida y eliminar el aborto en nuestro país. Esta es una alta prioridad.
Como Obispo de la Diócesis de Kansas City-San José, les pido su ayuda en estas dos importantes áreas, y prometo que haré todo lo que pueda para proveer para sus necesidades espirituales. Mi agradecimiento para el Padre Cisetti, Padre Arnulfo, Padre Brendan, Padre Kriski, y otros sacerdotes quienes sirven en sus parroquias, y a Diana Matous y nuestra Oficina Diocesana del Ministerio Hispano.
Estoy muy complacido por la gran asistencia a esta Misa y por su gran entusiasmo en esta Fiesta de María.
Que Nuestro Señor los bendiga ahora y siempre: El Padre +; el Hijo +; y el Espíritu Santo +. Amen.
Message to Holy Cross Parish
Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe –
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Dear friends in Christ,
Greetings and prayerful best wishes on this Solemn Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
I am very happy and full of peace to be with you. I feel as though our Mother is saying to us today the words she spoke to St. Juan Diego:
“Am I not your Mother?”
“Are you not under my shadow and protection?”
“Are you not under my mantle, and in the fold of my arms?”
Despite the challenges of these days, we know Our Blessed Mother is with us. We must keep our Catholic faith at the center of our life. If we do this we know we can live in our Lord’s peace, even when things are difficult.
I ask you today to join me in renewing your dedication to two very special needs in our society.
One is the central importance of marriage and the family. Seek to grow in closeness and love by praying together: at meals, through the family rosary, and attending Mass together every Sunday and holyday. When our families are places of prayer, we will remain strong and united.
Second: I ask you to pray and work for the protection of human life. Under the patronage of Our Mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe, we must be determined to do all we can to support life and eliminate abortion in our country. This is a high priority.
As bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, I ask your help in these two very important areas, and I promise you that I will do all I can to provide for your spiritual needs. I am thankful to Father Cisetti, Father Arnulfo, Fr. Brendan, Fr. Kriski, and our other priests and all who serve in your parishes, and to Diana Matous and our Diocesan office of Hispanic Ministry.
Thank you for coming in such great numbers and with enthusiasm on this Feast of Mary.
May our Lord bless you now and always: The Father +; the Son +; and the Holy Spirit +. Amen.