CNA Staff, May 5, 2020 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- Bishop Paul Bradley of Kalamazoo released a pastoral letter Friday encouraging support for parishes during the pandemic, and announcing the diocesan-wide bishop’s appeal would be rescheduled for later in the year.
“As I have said many times before, strong Parishes make a strong Diocese and we are working to ensure our Parishes are financially secure,” Bishop Bradley wrote May 1.
Many parishes are experiencing budget shortfalls due to decreased in-person donations. Data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggests that throughout the US, collections may only be about 42% of what they would have been without the pandemic.
“Although we have been forced to change the way we have been providing our ministries, our mission remains the same. We are committed to proclaiming the Gospel, to prayer and worship, to lifelong faith formation, and to serving the needs of all God’s people,” Bradley wrote, noting that the diocese has set up a dedicated parish fund where people can donate.
In his letter, “From Darkness to Light: Hope for a new Pentecost”, Bishop Bradley also announced that the first event he will schedule when public liturgies do eventually resume will be a Mass of Thanksgiving.
“This special Mass of Thanksgiving will be an opportunity to bring together our priests, deacons and our Lay Faithful in a prayerful expression of our thanks to God for the blessings we continue to receive here in southwest Michigan,” he said.
He noted that the diocese is in the midst of observing a Year of the Eucharist.
He prayed that the time spent without public celebration of the Eucharist would foster a renewed devotion to the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and that Catholics would “never take the Eucharist for granted again.”
“None of us ever dreamed that during this year when we anticipated a deeper love for and celebration of the Holy Eucharist, that most of us would be without the Body and Blood of Christ for an extended period of time,” Bishop Bradley wrote.
“I pray that our weekly attendance at Mass … and the regular reception of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the reception of the Eucharist, will be our new normal.”
Bishop Bradley noted that the US bishops had reconsecrated the country to Mary on the day of his letter’s release.
He expressed his hope that the Holy Spirit, who emboldened the disciples at Pentecost, would also “transform us from passive participants to active promoters of our faith.” When the pandemic ends, he wrote, he hopes that everyone will have experienced a “profound renewal of our faith in God.”
“While in some way we look forward to a return to a time of normalcy, we all know that we will never be quite the same,” he wrote.
“May Mary, the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of God, bless our Diocese, and all the people we serve, with her compassion and her courage. May she inspire us to avoid returning to business as usual, but rather that we embrace the mission of her Son Jesus, to move forward in hope.”
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