At a time when the family suffers challenges from many directions, Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead of Phoenix has issued Complete My Joy: An Apostolic Exhortation to the Husbands and Wives, Mothers and Fathers of the Diocese of Phoenix.
The exhortation stresses the beauty of God’s plan in creating the family as the “domestic church.” And the bishop makes clear that he considers the strengthening of the family to be the most important work of the priesthood.
“When I consider the blessings that God has bestowed on me in my life, second only to my Baptism into Christ’s family is the blessing of being raised in a faithful and united Catholic family. My parents, Patrick and Helen, committed themselves to God in the vocation to Holy Matrimony, and this provided a stability for me to grow as their son and as a son of God,” Bishop Olmsted says in the introduction to the exhortation. “I, and my brothers and sisters, never worried about their commitment to God, to each other or to us. For this, I am eternally grateful. Their motherly and fatherly acceptance of my life, that of my 5 siblings and the common, simple home life that we lived allowed God to form us and prepared us to follow His will.
“Likewise, throughout my life as a priest, I can say that some of the most meaningful moments are those when God sent me to walk with and minister to families amidst the ups and downs of life. Family is likely where we feel the deepest joys as well as the deepest pain. This is because of the deep love that comes with family; it echoes our deep human need for love. In fact, I am convinced that the priestly work that we spiritual fathers do for the upbuilding of the family is our most important work. I think this more today than ever.”