Prayers in Troubling Times

September kept us all surprised with the gift of summer weather that did not want to end. I was able to enjoy those unseasonably warm days and these first days of fall as I travelled about the Diocese for the first celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation of the season. The fall is now with us and our State will show the beauty of God’s creation. I hope that you are able to enjoy the beauty of our West Virginia hills in the month of October.We are still responding to the suffering of all the victims of this summer’s devastating hurricanes, especially Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. I am extremely grateful for the generosity of our parishes to the National Collection benefitting the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that came in its wake throughout East Texas. I know of several of our communities that sent truckloads of food and supplies to that area. Our people are very responsive to the needs of others and are very sensitive to the human suffering of so many. At the same time as recovery is going very well on the main land, the damage in the U.S. Virgin Islands from Hurricane Irma and the destruction in Puerto Rico is staggering. So many families are bereft of housing and are really suffering at this time. They are in great need of help and I want to make sure they are not bereft of hope. We will have another diocesan collection at the end of October to benefit these victims in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I am very proud of all the help we have given and are continuing to give during this time. I ask you to continue to pray for those who have been effected by the hurricanes this season. I have resumed the Confirmation Schedule and I really enjoy being back out travelling in the State. Following a recent visit to the surgeon who did excellent work on my right foot, I am finally off the knee scooter and able to walk without much assistance, though I am still a little wobbly on my feet. Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy the Confirmation at Sacred Heart Parish in Huntington, where young people from St. Peter Claver joined for the celebration. It was a beautiful witness to me to see children from these two communities gathering together and reflecting a great unity in Christ bringing together this racially diverse parish. I am very much looking forward to the dedication of the new Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima next to St. James Church in Charles Town.  It will truly be spectacular and a fitting place for celebrating our love and devotion to the Blessed Mother in this great Diocese. It will also mark the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima in Portugal. After spending 25 years of my priesthood in Washington, DC, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I consider this new Shrine a fantastic grace entering my life as your Bishop. I am extremely grateful for Mr. Tony Braddock, the generous donor who has made this fantastic gift possible. I hope that many of you will be able to visit this new Shrine and experience the grace of this place of prayer. As I am writing this column, my prayers are with Bishop Joseph Pepe and the people of Las Vegas, in the wake of the horrible attack on people gathered together to enjoy an evening of music and fun. Bishop Pepe and I were in high school together: he was a year ahead of me in high school, college, and seminary and I have had him as a guest at our Cathedral for the Red Mass and always enjoy his company. While we struggle to understand the how and why of this shooting, we cannot forget the many families struggling to come to terms with the death of their loved ones and those who are striving to overcome injury. As a nation, we must also consider the roots of the violence that live within some of our brothers and sisters that lead to terrible actions like this. I ask you to pray for the many families who have been affected by this senseless act of violence.