Bulletins (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for this week's and past weeks' bulletins.)

This week, the Diocese of Sioux Falls will begin its transition to a new bishop. The priests and deacons will gather with Bishop Swain on Monday for a dinner to thank him for his years of service. Later in a week, he will gather with many lay people who have been involved more directly in the life of the diocese during his tenure. This process of transition marks a vital time in the life of our local church.

Often at the parish level, we are not altogether aware that we are part of a broader church that extends across all of eastern South Dakota. In fact, each parish in the diocese is impacted by the ministry of the local bishop. It is the bishop who assigns pastors from the pool he has available. Then gradually over his years of service, the bishop enlists these pastors to implement particular directions he has in mind. Often these are more a matter of emphasis than a total change of direction.

Some bishops emphasize the worthy celebration of the liturgy, while others might emphasize faith formation for children, and still another might emphasize stewardship of money and properties. Today most bishops emphasize evangelization, which itself takes on different formats. All pastors have become very aware that our pews are not as full as they might be.

We don't know yet what priorities our new bishop will present for us. He probably doesn't know yet either. We do know that he needs our prayers and encouragement.

This year the kick-off for our annual Catholic Family Sharing Appeal will straddle the transition of our bishops. This will be an opportunity for us to show our support in a very tangible way.

As you probably remember, our local parish benefits from any amount collected for CFSA above our assessment. For this past year that amounts to over $22,000. Most of the overage will be paid to debt reduction with a tithe given to our parish Food and Diaper Pantry. Each year I am very gratified by the generous response of our parish.

On Wednesday this week, we observe the tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. As Catholics, we believe that human life begins at conception and deserves our reverence, protection, and support. Not every person is called to be pro-life in the same way, but the moral law demands that we recognize every person is made in the image and likeness of God.

For some, being pro-life means working to enact laws that will protect lives in the womb. For others, it means caring for parents and children who need the special concern of the Christian community. For still others it means donating diapers to families who need assistance in caring for their children. And for all of us, it means praying for greater reverence for human life.

Many people have commented over the years that our parish Spiritual Adoption program has brought home the reality of a human life developing in the womb. At a time when abortion seems to have become commonplace, this program reminds us each day that abortion should never be considered acceptable.

At times it is hard to grapple with the enormity of pro-life issues. We might even get lost in the numbers and statistics. When we consider that these numbers represent individual babies, then we might be motivated to lend our support to these vital causes. None of us can do everything, but all of us should do something.

Each year at the end of January, Catholic Schools Week is observed to highlight the special impact that these schools have in our Church and our country. Our parish is blessed by our own parish school which is part of Bishop O'Gorman Catholic Schools. Next Sunday to help kick off our annual celebration, our school will serve a Pancake Breakfast in the Multipurpose Room.

Money raised from this event will help pay for renovating our parish playground with a new surface. The pea gravel surface has been an annoyance for a long time and is hard on socks, shoes, and floors. Our playground is a real asset to our neighborhood children as well as members of our parish. I hope the funds raised from this breakfast will get us close to the total needed.

Financial Report: Last week our crowd at Mass on Saturday was really light but rebounded on Sunday. We were very happy to find $7,181 in the offertory collection. Thanks so very much for your generosity.

A Stewardship Testimonial: "God has been very good to me, and I always like to give back when I can."

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