Events

Thank You All - For Being Hope

Saint Paul concludes his Second Epistle to the Corinthians with the prayer: "The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Cor.13:13). So often we begin Mass with the same words. They are literally the first and the last words.

In all likelihood this will be my last column for the Western New York Catholic. I would wish again to follow the example of Saint Paul, when he closes his Epistle to the Romans with a long litany naming the people for whom he is especially grateful. If I were to do that, however, this column would evolve into the longest ""Who's Who" in the history of the United States.

I have been expressing my gratitude individually to many of you in recent weeks by mail, telephone, and personal meetings. I will continue to do so in the time remaining before departing for Hartford. It is impossible, nonetheless, to reach all with individual messages.

Please allow me by means of this column to thank you all now, both individually and collectively as members of our wonderful diocesan family. I thank God for you and I thank you for being you.

I have been fortunate to follow Bishop Edward Head and all the previous bishops of Buffalo. The diocese is strong pastorally, educationally, social service wise, health care wise, and financially. The parishes, schools, religious education programs, Catholic Charities and the other social service agencies, the Catholic Health System and other Catholic health providers are a tribute to your outstanding generosity in financial giving and personal involvement.

We look to the future now, and all these structures and people are enormous reasons for hope. The next bishop will have his challenges to face, but he will be fortunate indeed with the strength of the diocese.

The institutions and programs are motives for hope, but our hope is rooted more deeply on fundamental wonders. I see inspiration for hope in you. You are signs of life which overwhelm the harsh realities of destruction and death:


The priest who works diligently every day, undeterred by the national scandal of clergy sexual abuse - albeit involving a minuscule percentage of the priests - is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The parent who is up all night with a sick child, in the hospital or at home, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The husband or wife who takes care of a bedridden spouse for years is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The teenager who volunteers in a soup kitchen, a food pantry, or a religious education program for younger children, and sees all of this integrated with participation in Mass on Sunday, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The parent in difficult economic times who scrapes to make ends meet, including tuition bills, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The contemplative religious nun, who prays and sacrifices for all of us, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The deacon who works a full-time job, tends to his family, and still dedicates himself to parish and service agency ministry, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The religious sister or priest, who teaches in school and whose presence makes an impact far beyond the academic, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The parishioner who comes to Mass daily or who makes a visit to the Blessed Sacrament to commune with God, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The volunteer who makes parish life more effective or a homeless shelter stronger, is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The doctor or nurse who brings healing and the promise of a brighter future is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The Catholic who sees Sunday Mass as the source and summit of all our Christian life is a sign of life and a reason for hope.

The list is clearly not exhaustive, but I pray that it suggests the hundreds of thousands of people in Western New York who are signs of life and reasons for hope, and the motivation for enormous gratitude on my part.

As people of faith we know that all our life and all our hope are rooted in Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments, in redemption and eternal life. Thank you for the countless ways you exercise that faith. I will not say "Good-bye," only "Until we meet again."

In the meanwhile my prayer for you continues, as taken from the words of Saint Paul: "May God enlighten your innermost vision that you may know the great hope to which He has called you, the wealth of His glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the Church, and the immeasurable scope of His power in those who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Most Rev. Henry J. Mansell
Bishop of Buffalo
November 27, 2003