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home : from the bishop : from the bishop February 21, 2019

A Thanksgiving message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

I was in a panic Tuesday morning.  I had not yet bought my turkey for Thanksgiving. So I got up earlier than usual and went to the grocery store. I love shopping in the early morning: parking spaces are available; there are no lines, and people just seem nicer, friendlier. And I found the turkey I was looking for! Driving home, I thought to myself, "I'm sure I forgot something for the dinner" -- you know that feeling. I will, no doubt, be one of those frantic, frenzied shoppers at the store on Thanksgiving  morning.

I love this holiday. There’s just something about it that is beautiful. I guess it's

the idea of putting one full day aside simply to be grateful ... grateful first of all to God for all the good things he does for us each and every day; his unconditional love; his incredible forgiveness when we stray; his boundless, humbling mercy, so often at those moments we need it most … not because we earn or deserve it but simply because God is good and cares about us just the way we are. The Psalmist reminds us "He made us, we belong to him (Psalm 100)."

Grateful too for family! Thanksgiving is a family day from start to finish. The anticipation, the preparation, the celebration all point to the time we set aside to be together. I cannot think of too many occasions as wonderful and important as those times we spent together with family.

Of course, I always think of my parents, especially Mom. I miss her so much. Thanksgiving was "her day!" The way she handled every little detail continues to amaze me. I am so grateful for all those memories and, although Thanksgiving is different without her, I try to remember her presence that by cooking just the way she did …especially her recipe for turkey stuffing!  And her pies … I confess, I buy mine at the store (forgive me, Mom!). That reminds me, I have to get the pies!  I knew I forgot something!

Grateful for all the wonderful things we have because of our Church, our Diocese, our parish. God is present and our Church makes us aware of his presence ... at Mass, at other special moments, in the community of believers sharing their faith.  Thank God for our faith! Sometimes, faith is the only thing that gets us through the day!

As Bishop, I am especially grateful for the time and recommendations our parishioners gave to the "Faith in Our Future" initiative and to their generosity to the "Faith to Move Mountains"and the Annual Catholic Appeal campaigns. We just couldn't do all we do without them and these efforts of faith will strengthen our hope for the future. So much has changed in our Church but the heart of our faith endures.

With all our gratitude, we also pause, mindful of the poor, the elderly, the sick, those who are alone during the holidays. Thanksgiving (and Christmas right behind it!) annually provide give us with the opportunity to think of others, to reach out to others, especially the needy and those who are not as blessed or fortunate as we. Can we make room for some random acts of kindness?

My dear friends, thanksgiving is such a special holiday. Let’s really take the time to be grateful for all the good in our lives. Let’s think of the positive, not the negative; what we have been given, not what we lack; what is right in the world, not what is wrong; what is good about our neighbors, not where they fall short; the graces we enjoy, the blessings that are ours. This Thanksgiving, let's remember and never forget that all we are and all we have are God's gift to us ... and what we do with his generosity is our gift back to him.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May God continue to bless us all.



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