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Bishop Daniel Felton: This Lent, surrender to the deep healing Jesus desires for you

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

These are exciting times! At this time, the whole diocese is in a process of discerning and identifying “mission fields” as the first step to implementing my Pastoral Letter, which you can find in both written and audio form at the diocesan website,

Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
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A mission field is a designated geographical area for which we are accountable as missionary disciples for helping ALL the people within that mission field to discover, follow, worship, and share Jesus Christ. Presently, every parish pastor is consulting with those around him to determine: What will be our mission field? A mission field might be the boundaries of a parish or cluster of parishes or a region of parishes. 

Once the mission field has been determined, we must spend time getting to know something about ALL the people who live inside our mission field — not just Catholics but all the people. The laws and guidelines of the Catholic Church emphasize that every pastor, parish team, and parishioner is responsible for the salvation of ALL the souls of their mission field. This also applies to me as the bishop/pastor of the Diocese of Duluth and its ten counties. I am responsible for the souls of 452,293 people who live in our diocese, including the 41,493 of whom are Catholic. 

Identifying our mission field is not just about the numbers and boundaries, it is all about relationships. As we share life together in a mission field, what are our hurts and dreams, our challenges and fulfilments, our tribulations and joys as individuals, families, parishes, and the communities in which we dwell? Furthermore, as missionary disciples, how can we bring each other into a relationship with the healing, hope, and joy of Jesus, who we believe is the answer to the hurt, challenges, and tribulations of all who live in our mission field? Simple and straightforward, that is our purpose and mission as disciples of the Lord! 

As St. Augustine wrote, nemo dat quod non habet — you cannot give what you do not have. Moving forward, if we are to be missionary disciples to all the people in our mission fields, then we ourselves must first embrace and embody the healing, hope, and joy of Jesus. With that in mind, we are given the sacred seasons of Lent and Easter to do so. 

During these 40 days of Lent, I invite you to surrender to the deep healing that Jesus desires for you. Lent is not so much about what we are going to do for Jesus but what Jesus wants to do for us. What are the hurts that are weighing you down? What are the challenges that are filling you with despair, keeping you awake at night? What are the tribulations that seem insurmountable to the point of just giving up? The deepest desire of Jesus in this Lenten season is to bring healing into your heart, mind, body, and soul. For this healing of Jesus to take place in our families, parishes, and communities, Bob Schuchts, in his book “Be Healed,” poses three important questions for our healing. 

Firstly, what is your deepest hunger, thirst, or longing? We often know the symptoms of our hurt, but what is the deeper hunger, thirst, or longing of the hurt? Secondly, do you want to be healed? We might respond, “Of course I want to be healed.” But often we have a fear of the unknown. What would life look like without this hurt? Sometimes, we feel that we are too broken to be healed. Other times, we may resist being healed because we do not want to detach from that which causes me pain but also brings me pleasure. Thirdly, do you believe that Jesus can heal you? Again, we might quickly respond, “Yes, I believe that Jesus can heal me!” But deep down, it might be more like, “I hope he can heal me,” “maybe he can heal me,” or “maybe he doesn’t want to heal me.” 

Let us use the season of Lent to ponder and pray with the three questions raised above. Let this be a holy time for the healing of Jesus to permeate our individual life, the life of our family, and parish life. This part of the healing process is necessary, if we are to bring the healing, hope, and joy of Jesus to ALL the people who live in our mission field. Remember, nemo dat quod non habet

Finally, during this season of Lent, let us not just mouth these words, but truly believe that “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” 

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.