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  A Christian Faith Magazine January 2003, Volume 8, Issue 6  
Weather Report
Most Reverend William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport
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I can't predict what the weather will be like when you sit down to read these few reflections, but I suspect that Old Man Winter will be very much in evidence. You and I have to endure a few more months of cold, gloomy, stormy weather before the robin is on the wing. And therein lies a lesson for a very special year which you and I will celebrate together.

As most of you know, 2003 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Diocese of Bridgeport. All of us are earnestly hoping and praying that this anniversary year will be something of a new springtime for our Church and our Diocese. Doesn't it seem like yesterday that our Holy Father was helping us prepare for the new millennium and speaking of it as "a new springtime" in the Church's life? Well, 2002 didn't feel like spring anymore than a blustery March wind feels like spring. And as you look out of your window (you snowbirds are an exception), you may wonder how long the frigid winter weather will last.


In the Gospels Jesus reminds us that if we can interpret what the weather portends, so also, in His wisdom, we should be able to interpret the events of our lives. The Second Vatican Council, following the lead of the early Church, also taught us to "read the signs of the times." As this anniversary year begins, we need to read the signs of the times. We need to see the Lord and His Spirit at work in us, bringing good from evil, strength from weakness, joy from sorrow, and holiness from frailty. We also need to trust in the Lord, knowing that spring, for all its growth and renewed warmth, remains a stormy season!

Planning for our fiftieth anniversary year has been under way for more than a year. But here's the basic thought behind all the planning and events that will unfold over the course of the coming year: this jubilee year is a wonderful opportunity for growth in holiness, for deeper fidelity to the living faith of the Church and for new vigor in the Church's mission of evangelization. The year as a whole, and each event within the Jubilee year, is planned to renew us as a family of faith in Christ, and in the daily living of our faith. Clearly, it's not the time to hibernate. Rather, as Saint Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans, "... you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep... the night is advanced, the day is at hand" (Romans 13:11-12).

50 Years

Avid readers of Fairfield County Catholic and devotees of the Diocesan website will soon have at hand a complete and detailed schedule of the events that will mark our Jubilee Year. But for now, let me tell you about the logic of the year. Since we are celebrating the anniversary of our particular church, the Diocese of Bridgeport, you and I need to reflect on the Church as a gift from the Lord. Accordingly, in the coming weeks, I will share with all of you a pastoral letter, some reflections on the nature of the Church. This letter will serve to remind you and me that the Church is not of our making, but rather a gift from the Lord wherein we are healed, forgiven, transformed, and brought together in Christ Jesus to live as His followers and to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Elderly Folks

In February, when the Church is celebrating the International Day of the Sick, the Diocese will focus on the seriously ill and those in advancing years by celebrating the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in the three diocesan nursing homes and in our parishes. As Lent begins, we shall unite in asking God for forgiveness and reconciliation. In faith, we recognize that God's forgiveness of our sins is the first step toward holiness of life. With that in mind, I shall lead Penance Services in each of the five Vicariates in the Diocese.

The Second Vatican Council reminded us of the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives of faith, worship and service. So, as Lent and Passiontide gives way to the joy of the Easter Season, each parish will offer abundant opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration -- a precious time when you and I can come before the living Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, to open our hearts in prayer and praise and to allow Jesus to draw each of us closer to Him.

During the spring and fall, the Diocese will also offer a lecture series in both Spanish and English, to help all of us grow in our knowledge and love of our faith. For example, Avery Cardinal Dulles will be speaking at Saint Michael Parish in Greenwich on the evening of September 17. Also in the planning is a Christian Formation Congress for religious educators and Catholic school teachers. I am delighted that Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh will keynote that Congress. In addition, a youth rally is in the works -- please stay tuned!

Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport
St. Augustine in Bridgeport

The Diocese of Bridgeport was officially established on August 6, 1953. I wanted to have a large event as close to that date as possible, when we could all come together as a family of faith. I am delighted to announce that on Sunday, September 28, 2003, a huge diocesan Mass for as many as 7,000 people will take place in the Harbor Yard Arena. Much work is going into this event -- so that we can say on that day, "Here comes everyone!"

And then, on December 2, 2003, I shall have the joy of rededicating the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, which is currently being renovated and restored. I chose that date because it is the exact 50th anniversary of the installation of the First Bishop of Bridgeport, Lawrence Cardinal Shehan. Will the weather be mild and sunny throughout the coming year? I can't tell you. All I can say is that "the Lord is our light and salvation, whom should we fear?" I wish each of you a blessed new year, a blessed jubilee year, a new springtime in the life of the Spirit!

This column is credited to Fairfield County Catholic monthly magazine.

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