Sunday September 22, 2019
6:39 pm
Bishop Hying

Looking back, 2017 was a year filled with many blessings and moments of grace

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on January 14, 2018

 

      As we begin this new year of grace, I look back at 2017 with tremendous gratitude and praise to God and to all of you. We can easily look at all of the suffering, violence and tragedy that afflicted our globe and our country recently, but I also choose to embrace and lift up the many blessings which God showered on our diocese these past 12 months. They are numerous. Here are just a few.

      On four glorious Saturday mornings in February, we continued the synod process as parish delegates gathered by deanery to discuss and prioritize the concerns and needs of our people. The overflowing energy, joy and love for God and the Church were palpable in each session. 

      All of this work culminated in the diocesan synod weekend, beginning with a Mass of the Holy Spirit at Notre Dame Parish in Michigan City, and continuing with the Saturday working session at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. The crescendo was reached on the feast of the feast of Pentecost with a closing Mass at the Genesis Center in Gary, followed by a Eucharistic procession to the Holy Angels Cathedral.      

      In September, I gratefully endorsed the priorities of the synod, and our parish planning teams have been working hard creating their own synod implementation plan customized to the needs and dreams of our local parish communities.  We all have high hopes and great expectations for the synod’s fruitfulness.

      At the end of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis asked each diocese in the world to create some permanent outreach to the poor as a lasting fruit of the Holy Year. In our diocese, we created the Mercy Fund, a restricted account with the Catholic Foundation, which will award grants to projects, activities and institutions in our diocese that seek to empower the poor and help them in the realization of their own dignity, gifts and contribution to the common good. 

      In one year, the Mercy Fund has received well over $100,000.00 and is joyfully poised to begin offering local grants in 2018.

      A creative collaboration of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, Catholic Charities and our diocese, along with the generous help of local contractors, builders and volunteers from St. Mary Parish in Crown Point, has enabled us to build Tabor House, a beautiful new home near the cathedral in Gary.       

      Tabor House will house a single-parent family as they move out of poverty and into a dignified self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities will surround these families with the resources they need to realize their dreams of economic and social independence. Many people have contributed to the building and furnishing of Tabor House, and this endeavor is truly exciting in its local impact potential.

      A new Women’s Care Center has opened on Broadway in Merrillville, ready to assist women in crisis pregnancy with free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and material help. In a few short months, we have garnered the financial support to create this beautiful center of warm welcome, practical compassion and needed assistance for the women in our community. Within just a few days of opening, the center has already had a deeply positive impact on the community, as have the existing Women’s Care Centers in LaPorte and Hammond.

      We have spent much time and effort in 2017 exploring the feasibility of doing a diocesan capital campaign to benefit our high schools, grade schools, parish-based religious education programs and youth ministry. While we have not yet reached any definitive conclusions, I have been inspired by the deep love for Christ and the Church, a generous commitment to assist the Gospel mission, especially in regards to our young people and genuine concern for our parishes and schools expressed by our clergy, lay leaders and the faithful people of God. 

      Whatever we do in this matter, I am hopeful for the future of the diocese when I experience such passion and desire to move forward.

      As we have finished celebrating the Christmas season, we realize more profoundly that God comes to us in vulnerability, gentleness and even powerlessness, at least by the world’s standards. The entry of Jesus into the world as a baby, the efficacy of his preaching, the transformation of his miracles, the continuation of his mission through the Church all depended on a human response. 

      Mary’s “yes” to the angel, Joseph’s acceptance of Mary’s unusual situation, that first sharing of the Good News by the shepherds, the decision by the apostles to leave everything and follow the Lord, the willingness of the crowds to listen to Jesus’ preaching, the desire of the suffering for healing and forgiveness - all these free, human decisions made Jesus’ mission and salvation possible.

      So it is with us. We, too, are called to embrace the generous surrender of the Virgin, the evangelizing fervor of the shepherds and the embrace of mission like the apostles. 

      As I look at the synod, the Mercy Fund, Tabor House, the Women’s Care Centers and the desire to love and serve our young people, I see so many of you cooperating with grace, surrendering to the Lord, doing your part to create a greater space in the world for God to speak and act. The Lord places himself in the curious position of being dependent on our response. 

      Thank you for all you do to live the mission of Jesus Christ!

 

       + Donald J. Hying

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