Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we celebrate this autumn season of harvesting, I am mindful of gatherings in October that feature a smorgasbord. The Swedish tradition of smorgasbord is a buffet of plenty with many small dishes. My article this month is going to be a smorgasbord of plenty, featuring a number of delectable delights.
|Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News
New Bishops School
In late September, I attended the New Bishops School in Rome. All new bishops from around the world gather to be schooled by Vatican officials on a variety of Church processes, procedures, issues, and priorities. Because of COVID, this gathering has been put on hold for the last three years. However, this year we were able to gather. There were 180 bishops in my class. Most of us were ordained in 2020-22. The previous week, 150 had gathered for this same school. That means that there were 330 bishops appointed around the world in that time period. This alone was a wonderful feature of the week together, as I was able to interact not only with my brother bishops here in the United States, but I made friendships with bishops from Canada, Australia, Poland, Peru, and Brazil! It reminded me of how myopic we can be with our sense of Church. Truly we are universal in our nature. The last day of school we spent two hours with Pope Francis in a conversation on a number of matters related to our ministry as bishops. Pope Francis was healthy, energetic, and very engaging in our session with him.
All of the priests of our diocese will gather for our annual Priest Conference this month. It will be a time of learning, prayer, socializing, and hopefully a lot of joyful laughing. Father Jon Vander Ploeg, director of spiritual formation at St. Paul Seminary, will be with us as we explore detachment, surrender, discernment, and trust in the Holy Spirit. Please pray for all of us to be open to where the Holy Spirit wants to touch our minds and hearts in this time together.
Diaconate ordination and Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Jacob Toma will be ordained to the Order of Deacon (transitional deacon) on Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This is a powerful way for our diocese to embrace this special feast day and the significant place of Our Lady in Jacob’s journey to the diaconate. Many of our 11 seminarians will assist in this ordination, all of them a witness to the fruit of our Vocational Prayer. We commend Jacob and all of our seminarians to our patroness, Mary, Queen of the Rosary and ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Respect Life and Rosary Month
Traditionally, in the month of October, we renew our commitment to embrace the value and dignity of all life from the womb to our natural death. The praying of the rosary speaks so deeply into our respect for life, as we praise Mary as a mother and as we embrace the fruit of her womb, Jesus Christ, the Lord of life! In our post Roe v. Wade world, this connection between respecting life and praying the rosary becomes even more urgent. We also pray for those participating in 40 Days for Life as a witness to putting into practice that which they believe in faith, hope, and love. May Mary, our Mother and Queen, lead us in undoing all of the knots that prevent us from celebrating the gift of life, from the day that we are born until the day that we die.
As we have reached the end of our smorgasbord, we simply pray our after-meal prayer: “We give you thanks, almighty God, for all your benefits, who lives and reigns forever and ever. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen”
P.S. I am thankful that I was out of the country when the Vikings beat the Packers in the opening game!
Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.