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Bishop Paul Sirba: Much to be thankful for this November, despite difficulties

At the beginning of the month of November we have much for which to be thankful! In spite of the difficulties and challenges of our times, God calls us to be grateful.

National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) is an annual week-long celebration of thanks for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and good and holy marriages in our diocese and across our nation. From Nov. 6-12, 2016, we try to raise awareness and encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?”

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Pope Francis has said: “Responding to God’s call means allowing Him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness” (April 26, 2015, World Prayer for Vocations).

Again and again, studies have shown the role positive encouragement plays in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Parishes and schools across the nation are invited to include prayer and special activities for vocation awareness.

Our vocations prayer which is said so faithfully across the diocese has continued to bear great fruit. Thank you! Our vocations office has put together posters, a daily prayer calendar perfect for the refrigerator and a prayer card. Last year’s picture had me standing with the seminarians and Father Ryan Moravitz by the Aerial Lift Bridge with a big boat called “American Courage” going by. This year we are all inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary with smiles on our faces, ready to be of service to the Lord and to you.

In addition to our diocesan resources, more information and resources for National Vocations Awareness Week, including a prayer card, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at

On Nov. 13, the Diocese of Duluth will conclude the Jubilee Year of Mercy with Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary at 10:30 a.m. Our Holy Father Pope Francis will conclude the Year the following Sunday at St. Peter’s in Rome on Nov. 20. Again, we have so much to take away from the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I pray God’s mercy will sanctify us and ever more deeply inform our spiritual lives.

Three men will be ordained to the permanent diaconate on Nov. 20. Gerald Bock, Michael Eisenbraun and John Specht will be ordained to the Order of Deacon and begin service in the Diocese of Duluth.

I invite all of you to hold my staff, and the legal team that is representing us in the bankruptcy process, in prayer during the second full week of November. We begin our next effort at mediation in the hopes of bringing justice and healing for victims and a positive way forward for our diocese.

Great news! The Mall of America will be closed on Thanksgiving Day so that employees, their families and all would-be shoppers can spend the day in gratitude to God and service to one another. Hopefully, other malls and shops will follow suit. We can take the opportunity to go to Mass, take up a collection for the local food shelf and spend time building good relationships with our family and friends and, of course, savor a delicious turkey dinner and maybe watch a little football.

Advent begins on the last Sunday of November. A new year of grace!

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.