I pray you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with those gathered around you who care for you and I hope that you were able to take time with them to offer a prayer of Thanksgiving to God.
November and December are always a busy time of year in the Diocese as much as it is in your family. After returning from the General Assembly of our Conference of Bishops in Baltimore, I was fortunate to be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with our people in several locations. First, I traveled to Sacred Heart Parish in Williamson, in one of the most southern areas of our Diocese. I confirmed four young people there and was very pleased to be able to visit this Parish community and its pastor. From there, I went to Parkersburg for the celebration of Confirmation at St. Francis Xavier Parish. The pastor, Father John Rice, has carried out extensive renovations in this beautiful Church and I encourage you to visit it. This weekend I was closer to home, celebrating Confirmation at St. Anthony Parish in Follansbee, where Father Cody Ford, my former Priest-Secretary, is now assigned. This is a community that is always wonderful to visit. Indeed, over the past month, I covered a good amount of territory to be with some wonderful people who were really gracious and enjoyable.
As I travel throughout our Diocese, I realize the diversity of our people and the cultural differences that are faced in the everyday world. I also have come to realize the common thread that ties us together with our faith. We are truly a faith community in our Diocese and are joined to Christ Our Lord. This is among the things for which I am truly thankful this year. For Thanksgiving, I had some time with my family in Philadelphia and returned to prepare for the coming Season of Advent and then on to Christmas. This is a special time of year when all our families come together in joyful celebration as we prepare for the coming of our Savior. Hopefully we can bring our minds and hearts into real collaboration with the people around us who share our daily lives. I am very thankful to the many priests who celebrated Mass in our parishes on Thanksgiving Day, enabling our people to begin this important national holiday by giving thanks to God, who has showered so many blessings on our families and our nation. There is a great opportunity to make this a joyful time and a significant moment of recognizing the precious gifts God has given us in this world. We do hold the secret to our own happiness and our ability to share it. We have our own vocations to bring Jesus Christ into this difficult world. Let us lift up our hearts and with the same breath lift up our neighbor.
I am very much looking forward, in the coming weeks, to the completion of the renovations of the Basilica Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston. The renovations have been extensive and have aimed at artfully working with the Beautiful High Altar, dating from the early part of the last century. The new additions feature the beautiful marble appointments of Altar, Ambo, and Cathedra with a beautiful enlarged marble flooring in the sanctuary. This will accommodate large numbers of concelebrants as well as liturgical ministers. The floor of the Co-Cathedral has been completely replaced and is really beautiful as well as the restoration of the pews for the faithful gathered in prayer. The architectural beauty of the Church and its principal elements will be complimented with accompanying pieces. This is a wonderful time to enjoy the celebration of the Eucharist in a beautiful and wonderfully appointed space. I look forward to dedicating the new Altar during this season of Advent, a wonderful time in our Diocese.