November has truly arrived with cold winds and dusk coming early each afternoon, but the wonders of the Holiday Season are just around the corner with Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas coming upon us and blessing our parishes and families with great joy.
Meanwhile, I, like you, have been busy with the many activities that are part of the regular schedule. As you read in the previous edition of The Catholic Spirit, I hosted Catholic Charities West Virginia’s annual Autumn Gathering in Charleston. This year, I was pleased to have Bishop George Murry, the Bishop of Youngstown, as the homilist and guest speaker at the dinner. At the same time, I was able to introduce Mrs. Beth Zarate, our new CCWVa Executive Director. It was a wonderful evening and I was so thankful for the number of people who came out to support Catholic Charities.
In recent days, I have been traveling in the Eastern Panhandle of the Diocese. There was a meeting of the Council of Priests at Priest Field Pastoral Center with many priests traveling long hours to participate in discussions. These meetings allow me to learn what is going on in our Diocese first hand and, at the same time, permit me to participate in the life of the Church in this growing region of our Diocese. We are a Church of a large and richly diversified State; there are always new and enjoyable occasions of grace as I travel from place to place. Following the Presbyteral Council, I went to St. Leo Parish, Inwood, to bless the new Statue and outdoor Shrine of Pope St. Leo, the patron of the parish. The pastor, Fr. Alfred Obiudu, was very happy for this celebration and is always a truly joyful priest. It was a special moment for the Parish and I was grateful to have been there for it. I was also able to be the celebrant of a Mass at St. James Parish, Charles Town, for our young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation in this part of our Diocese. This was the first of four annual Diocesan retreats for Confirmation, bringing together young people from a number of parishes, and allowing them to have a rich experience of our Diocesan Church. These Retreats give the young people an opportunity to have a time of preparation together and enjoy a program designed especially for them by the wonderful staff of our Diocesan Youth Office. I am grateful to the parents, sponsors and those committed religious instructors who are working with these candidates. Please pray for these young people as they approach the sacrament.
I will now be heading for Baltimore and the 100th Anniversary of The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. The celebration will be followed by the annual meeting of the Bishops of our nation. There are many issues, as you know, facing the Church in this modern world and contemporary culture. The Catholic Conference works hard to bring great resources that assist dioceses to carry out their obligations as to teach and act like Christ, especially in works of charity for the poor and in Catholic Education. Please pray for our Church in the United States and the challenges that face us at this time in our national history. We are all now awaiting Thanksgiving, a wonderful time for families and friends to celebrate their lives together. There are so many beautiful families that will come together to count their blessings. I also want to thank so many people who in this past year have reached out to help one another, especially in the flood- ravaged parts of our State. I have been fortunate in this past year to see our generous people be so good to those who are suffering and in need. I have never been so impressed with people who work so hard to take care of others, as the Lord Jesus Christ has taught us. If we look closely around us there are really so many good people who we can admire and be grateful for their presence in our lives. I hope that you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving.