Young people place wreaths on veterans’ graves Dec. 14 at St. Joseph Cemetery and Mausoleum in Toms River during National Wreaths Across America Day. Jeff Bruno photo
Young people place wreaths on veterans’ graves Dec. 14 at St. Joseph Cemetery and Mausoleum in Toms River during National Wreaths Across America Day. Jeff Bruno photo

For the vast majority of Catholics, it is the parish community where our faith lives are rooted and cultivated. Our parish is central to our faith; it is the place where we learn about God and his Church and are fed throughout our lives by the Gospel and the Sacraments. Thoughts of the local bishop, the diocese, or the universal Church do not always figure prominently in the day-to-day lives of the faithful.

But the recent “Ad Limina” visit by the region’s bishops to Rome – including our own Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. – emphasizes that we are part of something much bigger than our parish communities. It underscores the connectedness that we have as members of this worldwide Church. As Bishop O’Connell explains in his interview on page 6, the “Ad Limina” visit is a way that bishops and dioceses stay connected with the Holy Father, who is the universal shepherd of the Church.

Though the Church is vast, and the Pope far removed from us geographically, we are one Church, one family of faith. That is the theme that this issue of The Monitor Magazine unpacks as we enter a new year. That is the relationship that could help us navigate through the changes and challenges that await us.That is the awareness that could strengthen us in our efforts to build the Church, serve those in need and bear witness to Christ.

When we remember that we are one Church, we can be inspired to work together, beyond our parish boundaries, to advance the mission of the Diocese, as we learn about on page 10. When we see ourselves as part of one universal Church, we can be moved to leave our comfortable homes and serve refugee families who are suffering as they wait at the U.S.-Mexico border, which is the subject of our page 12 story.  

With the understanding that we are all connected in Christ, we appreciate even more deeply the wonderful stories that are reported within these pages about young people serving the homeless on the streets of Philadelphia, or a deacon who ministers to the incarcerated, or parishioners who honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

While some may see today’s Church as embattled, our readers do not have to look far to find vivid examples of the many faith-filled people who bring beauty and vibrancy and love to this world because they are the Church.  May they inspire us all.