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Thanks for priesthood, blessing of freedom

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

May the life of the Lord Jesus in your hearts bring you comfort and blessing! The weather of late has certainly been a reminder that we cannot take anything for granted. I ask you to pray with me for the repose of the souls of those who have been killed in recent storms, and for the needs of those whose homes have been lost or damaged by the tornadoes and floods. With our prayers and open arms, we stand in solidarity with them, to offer as much aid and comfort as we can.

Last Saturday, I had the great joy to ordain Deacon Frank Lona to the holy priesthood. This is the culmination of his many years of study, hard work and sacrifice. But it is only the beginning of what we hope and pray will be many more years of faithful and fruitful ministry! The priesthood is one of the most important foundations of the life of the church, because without priests, we would have no holy Eucharist, no holy Mass, no confession, and no Anointing of the Sick. We need priests to live! And that means we need you, young men, to be willing to say yes to God if he calls you to be a priest. We need you, parents and grandparents, to support our young men in discerning that possible call, and not to discourage them by giving them only the vision of marriage and material success to pursue. Please tell your sons and grandsons that you would be proud of them if they received and answered a call to the priesthood.

For parents of only one son, especially, I know this can be very hard, because everyone, of course, wants to pass on the family name to their grandchildren. But a priest is father to the whole parish, and the parents of priests have the biggest and happiest families of all – as my parents often told me!

This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. We know with certainty that both saints came to Rome, preached and ministered there for some time, and were both martyred there. St. Peter was consistently remembered as the first bishop of the Church of Rome. We also know from Scripture that our Lord gave to St. Peter a special task, not shared with the other apostles (although all received the power to forgive sins, to consecrate the holy Eucharist, and to pass on their ministry to others by ordination, the “laying on of hands”). After the Resurrection, Christ designated Peter alone to “feed my sheep,” that is, to ensure the unity of the Church and of the College of Apostles (Jn 21:15-19; CCC 553, 881). These facts are the foundation of the papacy.

But this feast commemorates not only St. Peter’s ministry as the first Pope, but especially the common martyrdom they suffered for the sake of following Christ. St. Leo the Great, in a homily on this day, said that Peter’s boldness in coming to pagan Rome was greater than he showed when he stepped out of the boat at Christ’s command (Mt 14:29)! We also perhaps know the story of St. Peter attempting to flee the persecution in Rome, only to meet a man on the road who asked him, “Peter, where are you going? I am going to Rome to die for you again.” Thus, St. Peter recognized Christ again and followed him back to Rome, where he, too, was killed on a cross.

The feast of these two great apostles, evangelizers, and martyrs falls during our Fortnight for Freedom. For, truly, the freedom to love Christ completely, as they did, is precisely what we pray and witness and evangelize to achieve. It is a grave injustice, and one specifically foreseen and the Constitution written to prevent, that anyone should be penalized by the government for adhering to faith and conscience. The practice of our Catholic faith includes not merely Sunday Mass and prayer at home, but also concrete and public acts of charity and morality, which no government can justly force us to violate.

We are free, just as Catholics, to offer health care and education without ceasing to be Catholic when we do so. We are free, just as Catholics, to engage in commerce and to own businesses, without ceasing to be Catholic when we do so. (I’m speaking here as a Catholic and a bishop, but this applies not only to the Catholic Church, of course.) The First Amendment of the Constitution has always meant that we cannot be forced to contradict or abandon our Catholic (or other) faith when we do something that we are otherwise free to do, like serve others as a doctor or teacher or florist or baker. It cannot cease to mean what it has always meant, just because bad laws have been passed, or because ideologue judges have handed down contrary decisions.

Therefore, especially during this third Fortnight for Freedom, please pray and act for the full and unrestricted freedom to be in public what we believe in private. This is the greatest legacy of our Founding Fathers – both the founders of our country, who realized that religious freedom is essential to a free and equal society, and still more profoundly, the founders of our Roman Church, who were martyred for daring to live Christ’s own life. May Christ give you grace and peace!

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

schedule

Bishop Nickless schedule for June 29 to July 31

July 17 - Fort Dodge Celebration of Mass and visit with residents, 10:15 a.m., Marian Home
West Bend Visit to Grotto of the Redemption

July 20 - Ruthven Celebration of Mass and 125th Anniversary, 10:15 a.m., Sacred Heart Church

July 24 - Sioux City Celebration of Mass and visit with residents, 10:30 a.m., Holy Spirit Retirement Home

July 25 - Sioux City Finance Council meeting, 11 a.m., Chancery offices

July 27 - Manson Celebration of Mass at Totus Tuus camp, 11:45 a.m., Twin Lakes Campground

July 31 - Sioux City Priests Pension Board meeting, 11 a.m., Chancery offices

 

 

6-26-14: Thanks for priesthood, blessing of freedom

6-12-14: Pentecost offers an opportunity for transformation in our hearts

5-29-14: Holy Spirit does not come to visit us one day a year; he is always present

5-15-14: Celebrating mothers, Mary in May

4-17-14: Lenten pilgrimage reaches its end

4-3-14: Carry the cross: Lenten journey brings sacrifices, but don't sacrifice religious freedom

3-20-14: Live vocations joyfully, faithfully

3-6-14: Beginning the pilgrimage of Lent

2-20-14: Lent a time of preparation, renewal, rededication

2-6-14: Our Super Bowl goal is heaven

1-23-14: Striving to bring light and love of Jesus Christ to all

1-9-14: Ordinary time is anything but ordinary

12-19-13: Behold the saving power of the helpless infant

12-5-13: 'Put on Christ' more thoroughly this Advent

11-21-13: Year of Faith brings many blessings for diocese

11-7-13: No simple answer to complexity of HHS mandate

10-17-13: Preparing for our spiritual winters

10-3-13: Preaching the Gospel with whole lives

9-19-13: Work for peace in our own hearts

9-5-13: Church offers unique vision on subject of immigration

8-22-13:The Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to entrust her with daily concerns

7-25-13:Faith, example of Christ teach us daily duties have important spiritual benefits

7-11-13: Rule of St. Benedict: Vision built on foundation of prayer and work

6-27-13: Bishop says: If you do not witness faith consistently, you may lose it

6-13-13: Bishop encourages: 'Diligently seek Christ'

5-16-13: Spring brings Pentecost and graduations

5-2-13: Christ remains present to us through Catholic Church

4-4-13: Celebrating the Easter octave: Rejoicing in the risen Lord

3-21-13: Easter Blessings: Resurrection can transform the world

3-7-13: Faith and Hope: Pray for College of Cardinals, those entering the church

2-21-13: Lenten season: Time to be shaken out of regular routines

2-7-13: Lenten season: Use time to grow in faith, hope and love

1-24-13: Many special events slated for coming weeks

1-10-13: Year of Faith: Make time for prayer in the new year

12-20-12: The joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth

11-29-12: Preparing internally, externally during Advent

11-1-12: Path to holiness is simple and clear

10-18-12: Be willing to live and die as true followers of Christ

10-4-12: Strengthen and renew relationship with Jesus during Year of Faith

9-20-12: Gospel can heal, unify: divisions in culture and politics

8-23-12: Form consciences according to teachings of Christ

8-9-12: Stay strong in fidelity to vocation

7-26-12: All in need of continuing conversion and closeness to Christ

7-12-12: July closes Fortnight for Freedom, brings pastor changes

6-28-12: Bishop addresses important church and national topics

6-14-12: Give generously to Peter's Pence

5-31-12: Two ordinations and national campaign on agenda

5-17-12: Mary leads us to her son Jesus

4-19-12: Sharing Easter blessings and urging support of religious freedom

4-5-12: Easter Alleluia: Message spreads light, hope and joy

3-22-12: Back from Rome, work continues to stop HHS contraception mandate

3-8-12: Collection to Support Catholic relief agencies

2-23-12: Lenten Message: Turn to Jesus through prayer, fasting, good works

2-9-12: Time to rid life of Catholic compromises and deny temption of the devil

2-9-12: Lent: Time to build solidarity with the poor

1-26-12: Bishop addresses serious topics related to threats on life

1-26-12: Catholic schools teach faith, academics and service

1-12-12: All share common vocation to holiness

12-22-11: Supporting Catholic Charities

12-8-11: Advent: How our preparations poing to Christ

11-24-11: Advent prepares the faithful for the coming of Jesus

11-10-11: Making announcement as Bishop of Sioux City

10-27-11: Giving glory to God, honoring holy men and women

9-29-11: October brings various life issues to forefront

9-15-11: Holy Eucharist: Christ’s entire body, blood, soul, divinity present

9-1-11: Keehe sanctiping tty of marriage at the forefront

8-18-11: May new school year allow youth to grow in wisdom and grace

7-21-11: Reflections on appointment to diocese, generosity of people

6-23-11: Bishop answers questions about recent meeting

6-9-11: Summer brings a time of change, for better or worse

5-12-11: Wishing parishioners a joy-filled Easter season

4-14-11: Journey to Easter: Darkness makes way for new light

3-17-11: The promise of glory provides hope during Lent

3-3-11: Striving to live up to the promises of the Cross

2-3-11: The inestimable gift of the holy sacraments

1-20-11: Bishop celebrates five years of ministry in diocese

1-6-11: Vocations Awareness Week: Everyone has at least on clear vocation from God

12-16-10: Christmas joy: Our Lord among us

12-2-10: Advent season brings hope

11-4-10: November: Celebrating saints, praying for dead and giving thanks

10-21-10: Participate in election with Christ as guide

9-23-10: Catholic Charities Sunday set for Sept. 26

9-9-10: Hold firmly to precious gift of faith

8-12-10: Bishop addresses current issues: Immigration and same-sex marriage

7-15-10: Church can support couples in forming holy, happy marriages

7-1-10: Summer brings chance to rejuvenate body and spirituality

5-20-10: Practicing virtures of humility and modesty

5-6-10: Bishop Nickless reflects on joyous occasions, immigration

4-22-10: Bishop Nickless addresses sacramentals and indulgences

3-25-10: EASTER: The center of God's plan for salvation

3-11-10: Instill hearts with committed foundation for paschal joy

2-25-10: Bishop addresses vocations, marriage life issues and health care

2-11-10: LENT: Special time to wean lives of sin

1-28-10: Grasping meaning of suffering creates source of hope

1-14-10: Bishop addresses social and faith issues

11-20-08: Bishop gives thanks for blessings

11-13-08: Give thanks for God’s blessings

11-6-08: Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran, bishops to meet in Baltimore

10-30-08: Called to die to self, live only in Christ

10-23-08: Belonging to God and what that means

10-16-08: Church continues mission of Christ by rejecting culture of death

10-9-08: October - a busy month

10-2-08: Life is a gift of God's love

9-18-08: The Word of God in life and mission of church

9-11-08: Thoughts on life issues and faith education

9-4-08: VOTING: Understanding the issues at stake

 

 

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