Pastoral Letter Written for Spokane by New Leader of Chicago Archdiocese

Archbishop-designate Cupich Recently Released ‘Joy Made Complete’

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On Saturday, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane to replace Cardinal Francis George as archbishop of Chicago.

Readers seeking to know more about Bishop Cupich can read his recently released pastoral letter, below:

* * *

‘Joy Made Complete’
A Pastoral Letter by Bishop Blase J. Cupich

(From the Sept. 18, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

(Editor’s note: The Inland Register is publishing Bishop Cupich’s pastoral letter, “Joy Made Complete,” in English and Spanish. The letter takes the usual place of Bishop Cupich’s Inland Register column “Peace Be With You/La Paz Este Con Ustedes.”)

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands…we proclaim to you, so that you may have fellowship with us, a fellowship which is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. (I John 1:1-3)

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ:

The brave souls who wrote these stirring words nearly 2,000 years ago were facing dark threats from within and without. Divisions were tearing at community life. Public persecution throughout the Roman Empire threatened their very survival. Yet, these first disciples of Jesus of Nazareth did not fix their attention on the crisis of the present moment, nor on their own personal interests or impulses of self-preservation.

As daunting as these concerns were, the life-transforming experience of encountering the Risen Lord compelled them to set their sights higher. Jesus spoke to them in a way that left their hearts burning for more, and that “more” was sharing Him with others. Nothing else mattered. Others, whether in the present moment or across the ages, just had to be told about the new life Christ was offering all of humanity. They had to be invited to share in it. And, if it was going to be done, it was up to each of these early disciples to do it.

The resolve and enthusiasm of these first Christians came to mind as I reflected on all that I observed at last spring’s Know Love and Serve (KLS) Leadership Summit. Fifty Catholic leaders from Eastern Washington – lay women and men, Religious, priests and deacons – gathered on Friday and Saturday, April 11-12, at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. Their task as a group was to discern with the guidance of the Holy Spirit the pathway God is opening for our local Church as we begin our second century, and in this era under the exciting and energetic leadership of Pope Francis. In fact, all participants read in advance his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, which beautifully articulates a vision for the Church in our time. This document can be found online:

English: francis_english.pdf
Spanish: francisco_espanol.pdf

The Summit leaders worked together as a group, yet each participant had to make his or her own personal commitment, sacrifice and decision to guarantee its success. They had to be intentional disciples – and they were.

In addition to studying ahead of time the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation, those present for the Summit made many personal sacrifices to join in this work. Some traveled far at their own expense, gave up a day’s pay, made care-giver arrangements for children and family, or put aside their own obligations and personal pursuits. Each diligently shared the work of sifting through the nearly one hundred reports submitted by the parishes and affiliated groups, which identified the strengths and aspirations for our local Church. Each made a decision to be open to the Holy Spirit, and yet they remained vulnerable to many discomforting questions posed by their fellow parishioners, such as: “Will I be the last Catholic in my family?” “Will the Faith be passed on to future generations?” “Will our Church survive the damage done in the child abuse crisis?” And, they did all of this at a time when the trials, disappointments, threats and shame that have burdened our local Church for more than a decade still cut so very sharply into each of their hearts.

Each participant boldly took up this task, undaunted by the challenges the Church presently faces. Yes, they did so because they love the Church. They did so because they are excited about the direction Pope Francis is offering. But, there was something else I witnessed at the Summit. This group of leaders repeatedly demonstrated that they are motivated because they have come to know the Lord in their own experiences. Like our ancestors, who wrote to us nearly two millennia ago, these Summit leaders have become involved in Know, Love and Serve simply because the Risen Lord has touched each one of their lives in a way that has left their hearts burning for more, and that “more” is sharing Him with others.

I am genuinely edified by how the Summit participants came to their work with dedication, love of the Church and tireless resolve – and I wanted to begin this Pastoral Letter by drawing attention to it. But, to be honest, many of you who participated in the KLS process during this past year demonstrated these same qualities of sacrifice and commitment. You took time to attend listening sessions, respond to surveys and offer input in preparation of the Summit. You did this because you love the Church, but also because the Lord has touched your lives.

All of this fills me with great hope as I write this Pastoral Letter. I am convinced that each of you who read these words is being graced by God in this moment to rekindle your own love of the Church and to fan into flame the experience of being touched deeply in your own heart by Christ. It is at that level of your own personal faith life that I invite you to join me – with commitment and dedication –to take up the task of implementing the KLS priorities and plan presented here.

Without that same kind of energetic, enthusiastic and personal involvement on the part of all of us, the proposals I offer here will remain just words on a page. These priorities and the task of implementing the Diocesan Pastoral Plan are all designed to reinvigorate our local Church as we take up the work of Christ with fresh energy and purpose.

The critical question remaining as you read the rest of this Pastoral Letter is simply this: Are you ready and willing to do that? Are you personally ready and willing to share Christ, who has touched your heart, with others?

This is a question each of us needs to ask ourselves as we, the Catholic community in Eastern Washington, read this Pastoral Letter, study the priorities and take up the tasks in the Pastoral Plan which the KLS process has produced. Depending on your own interests and how God’s grace moves you to respond, each of you will hear the personal call to become involved in the Pastoral Plan and its challenges in different ways:

Are you committed to working with fellow parishioners in a collaborative way to make your faith community more welcoming to newcomers and more supportive to members in need?

Will you step forward to join with others and take responsibility for improving and enriching your parish’s worship and its catechesis of the young?

Will you work to build up new leadership and personally support parish and diocesan stewardship?

Will you advocate and participate in greater outreach to the poor and the unchurched and promote Christian unity?

Will you help to move the agenda of the Church from maintenance to mission?

In the end, the question is the same: Are you ready to join me and your fellow parishioners and take personal responsibility for the work of renewing the Church? Simply put, this
is about making sure that Know Love Serve are not just three words on a page or a catchy slogan, but that they are the distinguishing actions which define each of our lives as believers, as intentional disciples of Christ.

Pope Francis speaks of the need for each of us to make a decision to renew our personal encounter with the Lord:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her…. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord; take me once more into your redeeming embrace…. (EG 3)

Let us keep all of this in mind, as first I summarize our priorities and then outline in the remaining parts of this Pastoral Letter the Pastoral Plan which is based on the recommendations made at the Summit.

The Summit Priorities

Eight priorities were identified at the KLS Leadership Summit. After listing them, I will group them under four headings. I then will present the Pastoral Plan and offer some specific steps which each Catholic, all of our parishes and the diocesan offices will be asked to take over the next four years.

The Summit Leadership identified the following priorities after a careful and prayerful review of the reports from the parishes and other organizations, and after dialoguing about the information they provided:

1. Faith Formation
2. Leadership – Vocations (lay and ordained) – Ministry Formation
3. Fostering Community
4. Youth, Young Adult, Family
5. Eucharist
6. Stewardship – Time, Talent and Treasure
7. Service Outreach
8. Evangelization and Ecumenical/interfaith dialogue

Similarity to Early Church Priorities

What struck me when I first saw this list from the Summit was that it is remarkably similar to the priorities which the early Church in Jerusalem embraced and recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The members of this community were the original disciples whom Jesus called and sent into the world to proclaim the Gospel, so that others may come to share in his life. They had a list of four priorities, and these four have served as a point of reference for the Church in every age. This is what we read in the second chapter of Acts:

Those who believed in Christ devoted themselves:
1. to the teaching of the apostles,
2. to the communal life,
3. to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers and 
4. to sharing with those in need and adding to their number those who were being saved by sharing the Good News.

The similarity between this fourfold agenda found in Acts and the eight priorities identified by the Summit Leadership prompts me to offer the following program under four thematic headings to be addressed in the next four years:

1. The Teaching of the Apostles, by improving Faith Formation and Leadership Development (2014-2015);
2. Our Communal Life, by developing our parish and school communities to be more welcoming and which give special attention to youth, young adults and families (2015-2016);
3. The Breaking of the Bread and Prayer, through liturgical renewal that reflects authentic discipleship and stewardship (2016-2017);
4. Outreach in Service, Ecumenism and Evangelization, by sharing goods with those in need through social outreach, sharing the Good News through evangelization and building bridges through ecumenical/interfaith dialogue (2017-2018). It seems to me that there are advantages to linking our Summit priorities to the four priorities adopted by the early Church.

First, from a practical standpoint, this grouping of the Summit priorities offers the possibility of addressing them in a reasonable span of time, and of working together on them in solidarity and in an organized and coordinated way. The diocese, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, thereby will be able to schedule a series of diocesan assemblies and systematically make resources available over these next four years to assist parishes and parishioners as they address the priorities on their local level. Likewise, parishes can work together and support each other, as they share best practices and experiences.

Secondly, deliberately connecting our priorities to the agenda of the early Church will help us keep in mind that the Gospel we proclaim in our time is as fresh and new as it was for the first Christians. These ancestors in the Faith took up the task of proclaiming the Gospel with energy and vigor because they were ever alert and encouraged that Christ was alongside them on the journey of faith, and so should we. Moreover, linking our aspirations and dreams to the lived experience of the early Church will provide us a rich resource in the Church’s Tradition to unpack the significance and deepen our appreciation of all we will be doing in the KLS process over these next four years.

My Request of You over the Next Four Years: 2014 to 2018

I ask that our diocese, our parishes, schools and each one of us make a commitment that we as the Catholic Church in Eastern Washington will devote ourselves over the next four years to these four major priorities.

My wish is that we all will follow the timeline and Pastoral Plan presented below, so as to take advantage of the resources which the diocese will provide. At the same time, recognizing that some communities may find it necessary to follow a different sequence, and all the while being respectful of decision-making at the local level, I would encourage everyone to give serious consideration to the value of having a unified approach throughout the diocese. Not only will this ensure an effective use of limited resources, but it will also establish a sense of solidarity among us as we walk this journey together.

A wonderful and exciting challenge lies before us all. The joy of the Gospel is precisely what should motivate, center and encourage us as we move forward. With a passion and energy that gives voice to our ancestors in the faith, Pope Francis is stirring the hearts of this generation, urging each of us to put aside timidity and embrace our mission as disciples of Jesus with fresh imagination and enthusiasm:

“Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigor!” (EG 109)

Let these words embolden and unite our hearts as we reclaim our calling as disciples of Jesus, all the while supporting each other on the pilgrimage of faith charted in this Pastoral Plan.

Introductory Remarks
The Diocesan Commitment

It is important at the outset to offer my assurance that the diocesan administration is committed to establishing an infrastructure of resources, so that the parishes and parishioners will be supported as they respond to this Pastoral Plan over the next four years.

The diocese already has accomplished the following:

established the new position of Parish Support and Renewal Services (PSRS) and hired a director (July 1);
approved a new constitution for the Diocesan Pastoral Council and appointed new members (Aug. 1);
tasked the Diocesan Pastoral Council to collaborate with the KLS Organizing Committee and the director of the PSRS to oversee the entire process of implementing the Pastoral Plan (Aug. 29).

Moreover, the diocese on an annual basis:

will budget for expenses related to the diocesan portion of the implementation of the KLS process;
will seek the advice and input of the priests at their Annual Presbyteral As
semblies and through the Presbyteral Council about the progress of the implementation of the Pastoral Plan;
will organize, execute and subsidize a series of Annual Diocesan Assemblies tailored to address the priority for each given year;
will dedicate the Bishop’s column in the Inland Register to the various aspects of each priority to be addressed over the next four years;
will schedule in cooperation with parishes adult education programs over the next four years which address the priorities of each given year;
will convene the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the KLS Organizing Committee to evaluate the progress and effectiveness of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan;
will take any additional steps listed below for each year’s set of priorities.

The Presentation and Outline of the Pastoral Plan

The Pastoral Plan is presented in four parts, corresponding to the set of priorities scheduled over each of the next four years. For each year, I first list the priorities to be addressed. As sidebars, I place some quotes from Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, to inspire us and focus our attention as we work together to implement the priorities of the year. A list of specific tasks for the diocese and parish leaders to accomplish in a given year, along with recommendations for communities and individual parishioners, will then follow. The only exception, however, is that I will not repeat mention of those tasks which are identified as recurring, such as the ones for the diocese noted in the previous section. For the most part, all the steps, measures and recommendations listed in the Pastoral Plan were identified at the Summit, but I have added some of my own.

The Annual Diocesan Assembly

The schedule for implementing the four priorities in the Pastoral Plan begins in the fall of each year. A Diocesan Assembly will be held in conjunction with each priority. The first Assembly will be held this coming spring (2015). Given that this is the first year of the KLS process, the spring 2015 Diocesan Assembly will have a special character. Focusing on the first priority in the Pastoral Plan (Faith Formation and Leadership Development), it will provide an opportunity for participants to share their experience of how leadership for the KLS process and parish ministries is emerging at the parish level. Ideas about how best to foster the remainder of the Pastoral Plan will be exchanged.

In order to support the implementation of the next three priorities in the Pastoral Plan, the Diocesan Assembly will be held in the fall of each successive year (2015, 2016, 2017) and will feature speakers chosen to coincide with the priority being addressed for that specific year. The annual fall Assemblies also will provide opportunity for participants to share best practices and build solidarity among the parishes and parishioners in our diocese.

A Commitment to Prayer

Finally, I want to urge both personal and communal prayer for the success of the KLS process. Renewal in the Church has always begun and been nurtured by listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, both individually and as communities. Our Lady was the first disciple to treasure the Spirit alive in her heart. Let us turn to her often in the years ahead to remind us to follow the example of one whose soul rejoiced in God’s saving presence and mighty works.

Priority One
Teaching of the Apostles
Faith Formation – Leadership Development

The diocese, parishes, schools and each of us make a commitment as the Catholic Church in Eastern Washington to devote ourselves to the teaching of the Apostles by improving faith formation and leadership development.

Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. (EG 39)
The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane…“for life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.” (EG 10)
Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings. (EG 44)
We need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness. (EG 42)

The Bishop and the Diocesan Administrative Offices:

will publish the Pastoral Letter, Joy Made Complete, in the Inland Register and mail it to the home of each registered family in the diocese by the end of September;
will schedule times for the Bishop and/or the director of the PSRS to meet throughout the year with the lay and ordained leaders of each parish or cluster of parishes to review the parish plans they submitted for implementing the priorities. Regular reports following these meetings will be published in the Inland Register;
will consult throughout the year about the need and feasibility of establishing a diocesan program to train catechists.

Parish Leaders:

will read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter and begin work on developing a four- year parish pastoral plan and schedule by Oct. 15;
will submit the four-year parish pastoral plan to the Bishop by Jan. 15;
will commit to implementing the four-year plan adopted by the parish and address the set of priorities for each given year;
will commit to budgeting each year for parish participation in the Annual Diocesan Assemblies;
will commit to scheduling time on the agenda of each parish pastoral council meeting over the next four years to discuss the Bishop’s Inland Register articles and evaluate the progress of their parish pastoral plan and schedule.

This present year (2014-2015) no doubt will be a busy one for all of us as we launch the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. The contribution of parish leaders will be especially important as they take up two major tasks. First, by Oct. 15, 2014, they are to begin work on an over-all, four-year-long parish pastoral plan which addresses the full scope of the priorities presented in this Pastoral Letter. Second, they are to share that four-year plan with me by Jan. 15, 2015. In the meanwhile, the parishes also will be working to implement Priority One.

The Parish Community Will Consider Taking the Following Actions:

begin the Called and Gifted program;
establish a parish vocations committee to promote awareness and prayer for vocations;
schedule a Vacation Bible School;
schedule a Theology on Tap;
encourage and fund youth participation in Vocare and Quo Vadis;
review the effectiveness of the parish catechetical program and make recommendations to the diocese about the need to re-establish a diocesan office for religious education and/or a training program for catechists;
schedule a parish mission dedicated to the theme of intentional discipleship and faith formation;
schedule Advent and Lenten adult education series;
organize Bible study days or weeks;
initiate contact with a local college or university campus ministry program and actively invite college students to the parish for weekend Mass or parish events.

Individuals and Families Are Challenged to Make a Commitment to:

read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter by the end of October;
read the Scripture readings of the day or a passage of the Bible daily;
read the Bishop’s articles and the KLS articles in the Inland Register throughout the year;
give time and prayerful consideration to taking a leadership position in the parish, volunteering to assist with faith formation programs organized by the parish and attending the spring 2015 Diocesan Assembly;
commit to attending at least one faith formation se
ries or session offered by the diocese or parish within the year;
examine personal attitudes towards leaders in society and the Church so that words and actions in this regard coincide with Gospel values of respect for authority and regard for human dignity.

Priority Two
Community Building – Youth – Young Adults

The diocese, parishes, schools and each of us make a commitment that we as the Catholic Church in Eastern Washington will devote ourselves to our communal life by developing our parish and school communities to be more welcoming and which give special attention to youth, young adults and families.

Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

The parish … possesses great flexibility; it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community…. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a center of constant missionary outreach. (EG 28)

The Parish Community Will Consider Taking the Following Actions:

initiate a Come Home type of program reaching out to inactive parishioners;
encourage and support parish youth to attend diocesan youth events and rallies;
establish a youth group, if none exists; establish youth days; 
encourage and financially support greater participation by couples in Marriage Encounter;
schedule periodic parish pot lucks or dinners to bring the community together;
create a parish photo album/directory and publish a parish history;
schedule a parish mission dedicated to the theme of family life;
schedule a Family Camp;
schedule an Advent and Lenten adult education series on the parish, diocesan or Church history;
organize Bible study days or weeks that aim at understanding a faith-based approach to family life;
schedule parish work/maintenance days to upgrade the appearance of the parish physical plant.

Individuals and Families Are Challenged to Make a Commitment to:

read the Bishop’s articles and the KLS articles in the Inland Register throughout the year;
give time and prayer to considering serving the parish in some way, volunteering to assist with educational and community building efforts organized by the parish and attending the fall 2015 Diocesan Assembly;
attend at least one series or session on Priority Two offered by the diocese or parish;
invite at least one inactive or alienated Catholic to attend Church or Mass or a program offered by the parish or diocese within the year.

Priority Three
Liturgical Renewal – Discipleship – Stewardship

The diocese, parishes, schools and each of us make a commitment that we as the Catholic Church in Eastern Washington will devote ourselves to the Breaking of the Bread and prayer through liturgical renewal that reflects authentic discipleship and stewardship.

Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

Memory is a dimension of our faith…. Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of his Passover (cf. Lk 22:19).… Together with Jesus, this remembrance makes present to us “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1), some of whom, as believers, we recall with great joy: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God” (Heb 13:7). Some of them were ordinary people who were close to us and introduced us to the life of faith: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” (2 Tim 1:5). The believer is essentially “one who remembers.” (EG 13)

The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. (EG 47)

The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving. (EG 24)

The Parish Community Will Consider Taking the Following Actions:

establish a parish stewardship committee;
establish a parish liturgical committee;
schedule periodic witness talks by parishioners testifying to how stewardship is a way of life;
hold a parish ministries information day to invite participation and train new ministers;
schedule a parish mission dedicated to the themes of liturgy, different types of prayer and meditation, inculturation and/or stewardship;
schedule Advent and Lenten adult education series on the liturgy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and on a faith-based approach to stewardship;
schedule periodic communal Penance Services, Anointing of the Sick and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

Individuals and Families Are Challenged to Make a Commitment to:

read the Bishop’s articles and the KLS articles on Priority Three in the Inland Register throughout the year;
give time and prayer to considering serving the parish in some form of liturgical ministry, volunteering to assist with the parish stewardship program and attend the fall 2016 Diocesan Assembly;
attend at least one series or session on Priority Three offered by the diocese or parish;
participate in parish efforts to increase their own frequency of Sunday Mass attendance.

Priority Four
Outreach – Ecumenism – Evangelization

The diocese, parishes, schools and each of us make a commitment that we as the Catholic Church in Eastern Washington will devote ourselves to outreach in service, ecumenism and evangelization by sharing goods with those in need through social outreach, sharing the Good News through evangelization and building bridges through ecumenical/interfaith dialogue.

Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! (EG 10)

The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples … and has an endless desire to show mercy…. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved.… An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances…and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be.… It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization. (EG 24)

Signs of division between Christians in countries ravaged by violence add further causes of conflict on the part of those who should instead be a leaven of peace. How many important things unite us! If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. (EG 246)

The Parish Community Will Consider Taking the Following Actions:

schedule ecumenical services with pulpit exchan
ge with neighboring Christian communities;
invite Catholic Charities staff to make presentations about volunteer efforts for social ministry in the diocese;
establish a parish social justice committee or a Just Faith type of program;
establish a parish respect life committee;
initiate a parish nurse program; 
schedule an intergenerational mission trip;
integrate social justice projects and respect life issues in catechetical programs;
schedule periodic inquiry sessions for parishioners to invite unchurched friends and family;
establish or improve the parish RCIA process;
schedule a parish mission dedicated to the themes of social justice, charity, Christian unity, intentional discipleship;
schedule Advent and Lenten ecumenical Bible series on social justice;
identify the special needs of community members who suffer from poverty, loneliness and physical and emotional challenges and devise an effort to reach out to them.

Individuals and Families Are Challenged to Make a Commitment to:

read the Bishop’s articles and the KLS articles on Priority Four in the Inland Register;
give time and prayer to considering serving in a Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul or parish-based social outreach program;
attend an ecumenical prayer service, the Cornerstone Conference of the WSCC, or a Bible study group organized by the parish or diocese, and attend the fall 2017 Diocesan Assembly;
attend at least one series or session on Priority Four offered by the diocese or parish;
invite at least one unchurched person to attend Church, Mass or a program offered by the parish or diocese.

Concluding Remarks

There is ample evidence that many in the Catholic community are excited about the promise the KLS initiative offers as we begin the second century of the life and ministry of our local Church. As I mentioned at the beginning of this Pastoral Letter, I am edified by the good number of parishioners who already have contributed time, talent and treasure to assure the success of this effort. You will be happy to know that an anonymous donor from outside the diocese provided a sizable grant to cover the majority of the expenses of the KLS process, including the costs of making this Pastoral Letter available to you in your home and in the Inland Register and partially underwriting over the next four years the Annual Diocesan Assemblies and some of our diocesan educational programs.

Beyond any material consideration, however, the success of the Know Love and Serve initiative will require our rethinking of the goals, structures, style and methods of how we as individual Catholics live our faith and how our parishes and the diocese serve others in continuing the mission of Christ in our time. This is exactly what Pope Francis means when he urges us in his Apostolic Exhortation to be bold, creative and above all to “abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’” (EG 33)

As the Summit participants rightly noted and personally demonstrated, each of us must become involved to make this happen. This will mean:

committing ourselves as parishioners and leaders to take up the hard work with both dedication and charity to explore new ways of being parish and diocese so that others may come to know the joy of the Gospel; 
calling forth courageous and visionary leadership, lay and ordained;
stepping out into unknown and largely uncharted territory, and trusting each other to share responsibility and ownership for the Church; 
developing life-giving relationships between lay and ordained members and valuing accountability, collaboration and mutual respect for the gifts of others;
moving from maintenance to mission;
responding with our personal “yes” to the question: “Are you ready to do this?”

I began this Pastoral Letter with words shared with us from across the ages by that first generation of Christians known as the “Community of the Beloved Disciple.” They refused to cower before challenges from within and without, and instead left us an inspiring witness of how our lives can be transformed through an encounter with the Risen Lord. Their testimony encourages us, the descendants of these first Christians, now to take up with fresh enthusiasm and vigor our calling as disciples of Jesus, who want nothing more than the joy that comes from sharing Him with others.

The next line in the passage I quoted at the start of this Pastoral Letter, is worth noting, because it gives a further insight into what moved that community to pen their stirring words: We write these things so that our joy may be made complete. (I John 1:4)

This is not an expression of self-interest. Rather, it is an invitation for us to understand that the fullest joy we can experience in life comes in encountering Christ and accompanying others in that same journey. That is the promise offered to us as we each take up the Know Love and Serve initiative in our diocese, in our parishes, and in our homes. So often we are burdened by cares and concerns, anxieties and burdens, and we hunger for this kind of joy that lifts us up.

Having been a priest for nearly 40 years and a diocesan bishop for 16, I have come to know time and again this kind of joy. It is a joy that sustains in moments of heartache, disappointment, pressure and surprising setbacks. It is a joy I have experienced in the graced moments of celebrating the Rites of Christian Initiation, the Sacrament of Penance, the solemn profession of a Religious, outreach to the poor, comforting the dying and the mournful, catechizing the young, at the ordination of new deacons and priests. It is a joy that the world neither can give nor take away. It is a joy that lasts, increases and matures the more I see others respond to the call of Christ to be His disciples. And, now it is a joy I feel once again already as I look forward to all the good that will come from the KLS process. Like those early Christians who expressed their joy in anticipation that their message would inspire others to take up the mission of Christ, I close by calling on their words to convey all that is in my heart:

I write these things so that my joy may be made complete.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich
Bishop of Spokane

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2014

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