Dear People of the Diocese,

In today`s Gospel reading we hear of a man with leprosy begging Jesus: “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Jesus, moved with pity stretches out his hand, touches him and says: “I do choose.  Be made clean!”  Not only is this a very fitting scripture passage to be proclaimed on this day when we annually celebrate the World Day for the Sick, but it is also a wonderful scripture passage to inspire us in our preparations for the Liturgical Season of Lent which will begin this coming Wednesday.

In his Lenten Message this year Pope Francis wrote: “… God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a ‘sacramental sign of our conversion’.”   “Above all,” the Pope wrote, “I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.”

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates World Day of the Sick annually on February 11, the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes.

This day of prayer, which was instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1992, has three themes. First, it reminds the entire Church to pray for those who are sick. Second, the celebration invites all Christians to reflect on and respond to human suffering and pain. Third, this day recognizes and honours all those who work in health care and serve as caregivers.

The message of Pope Francis for this World Day is “Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:26-27)

You are invited to join with the rest of the Church in praying for those who are sick and for those health care professionals and caregivers who minster to them.

On February 2nd the Church will celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life. This is an opportunity to remember with gratitude the men and women who have chosen to live out their baptismal vocation by professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience by joining a religious congregation, a secular institute or through private vows. We thank those consecrated men and women in our diocese who dedicate their lives to God’s service, we pray for God’s continued blessing upon them and we pray that many others will hear and respond to the call to Consecrated Life.

In honour and celebration of Consecrated Life, Bishop Hundt will preside at the daily Mass at 9:30 am at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Redeemer and the Immaculate Conception on Friday, February 2. All are welcome to come and join in this celebratory Mass.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated annually around the world from January 18 (the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter) to January 25 (the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul). During this week, Christians around the world are invited to celebrate a week of prayer for the unity of all Christians, to reflect on scripture together, to participate in jointly-organized ecumenical services, and to share fellowship. The theme for this year’s week of prayer – “Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power (Exodus 15:6)” - has been prepared by an ecumenical team in the Caribbean region. Christians around the world are invited to celebrate God’s reconciling grace, to recognize the pain of the deep divisions which afflict the Church and to become ambassadors of Christ’s message of reconciliation.

We are pleased to welcome to our diocese Reverend Jaison Varkey Cherumadathil, C.F.I.C., a member of the Indian Province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception who arrived in the diocese on Tuesday January 9th. Please join in welcoming Father to the diocese and praying for God’s blessing upon his ministry.

The Church celebrates the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday, January 14, 2018. This day is an annual commemoration of the Church that raises awareness of the migration phenomenon. The theme of Pope Francis’ message for this year’s World Day is “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”  In this message, he says:

Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).  The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.[1] This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.  This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.

In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.[2]

Click here to read Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in its entirety.

On Monday, January 8, the Church marks the end of the Christmas season with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Over the season of Christmas, the Church celebrates three feasts which mark the revelation of God to humanity: Christmas as the Incarnation of God, Epiphany as the revelation of God to the Gentiles through the visitation of the Magi and the Baptism of Jesus as the revelation of the Trinity (Jesus Son of God present at the baptism, the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father announcing that this was His Son in whom He was well pleased).

On January 1, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. This, the highest title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was given to her at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. and is the oldest feast of Mary celebrated by the Catholic Church. In the Canadian Church it is a Holy Day of Obligation, which means that Mass attendance is required.

Also on this date, we celebrate the World Day of Peace. This observation was introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and first observed on January 1, 1968. Each year the Pope issues a message for the World Day of Peace, which has a specific theme chosen by him. The theme of the message for this 510st  World Day of Peace is Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace.

On Sunday, December 31st, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. This Feast is  celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas.  The Feast of the Holy Family was instituted in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII, who was concerned by the apparent general breakdown of the family at the end of the 19th century. It was originally celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany but the date was changed in the liturgical calendar which was promulgated in 1969.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recently I attended the Knights of Columbus, Newfoundland and Labrador State, Mid -Year Meeting in Gander.  At that meeting I was pleased to hear the Grand Knights and District Deputies share their stories of the good works done by Councils in feeding the hungry and providing warm winter clothing to the poor.  However, those same stories saddened and humbled me to think that there are so many in our province without the means and resources necessary to keep themselves and their families warmly dressed and well fed.

In their sharing of these stories, the District Deputies and Grand Knights noted the importance of assisting in a way that respects the dignity of the recipients and they spoke of the satisfaction and fulfilment felt by the organizers and contributors of this outreach to those in need.  Their stories reminded me of a touching experience I had one Christmas day as a young priest.

At the time I was covering a parish in a rural area.  After the Christmas morning Mass, a parishioner came forward and invited me to Christmas dinner with his family.  He invited me because he knew I was a visiting priest and did not want me to spend Christmas day alone.  This man was not well to do. He, his wife and four children lived in a trailer park and were having a hard time making ends meet.  However, on that Christmas day he reached out to share his “riches” with me, someone he saw as a poor stranger passing through.

Christmas is an excellent opportunity for us to consider our “riches”, thank God for them and ask God to help us to know how to share these riches with those who have less.

With best wishes for God’s blessings upon you and your families during this upcoming Christmas season and always,

Yours in Christ,

+Peter Hundt,

Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador

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