Abp.-elect Jackels asks for prayers as he prepares for new post in Dubuque, Iowa

By Abp.-elect Jackels
By now this may be old news to most people, but on April 8, 2013, it was announced that our Holy Father Pope Francis I appointed me as Archbishop of Dubuque.
The call from the Apostolic Nuncio came on Tuesday of Holy Week, in the afternoon after our celebration of the Chrism Mass. I was surprised and humbled, to say the least.
When the Nuncio asked me what answer I would give the Pope, I responded that, in light of the Holy Father’s example, cheerfully accepting the Lord’s will to begin a new and demanding ministry, there is no reason I could or should refuse.
Indeed, the motto I took for myself when I became a bishop is “ecce adsum.” With these words I not only introduce myself to the people God has asked me to serve.
These words also express my confidence in God’s promise to be present with me, providing me with strength, wisdom and goodness to do His bidding.
And “ecce adsum” gives voice to my ready surrender to God, seeing His will as a good thing given by a loving Father to a child He loves. God’s will is mysterious, but I believe it is out of love and for good.
That being said, it is hard to get used to the idea of leaving the Diocese of Wichita. I had hoped to end my ministerial days here, and what bishop in his right mind would not harbor such a desire!
It has been a great experience to pray and work with the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Wichita, to yoke ourselves together, sharing responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus in his Church here.
I am confident I will be able to say the same about the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
One consequence of this appointment is my needing to suspend visiting the parishes to say “thank you.” Allow me to take this occasion to say to the remaining parishes my heartfelt thanks for taking interest in, saying prayers for, and making sacrificial gifts in support of the TOGETHER Vision, for the future of the Church and its mission in the Diocese of Wichita.
To one and all, be assured of a remembrance in my poor prayers. I would be grateful if in your charity you would pray for me, as well as for your next bishop (whoever that will be) and for the Church in the Diocese of Wichita and in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, in this time of transition. God bless you!

Bishop: Pope was a faithful steward of the church

By Bishop Jackels
Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.
This is our way of expressing what stewardship as a way of life means.
It is also a way of expressing our sentiments on the occasion of the resignation of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
Over the past eight years Pope Benedict has, in an exemplary manner, stewarded the church established by Jesus Christ.
It is rumored that in 2005, at the age of 78, he hoped to retire from active ministry; nevertheless, when the plan of God was made clear, that he should take up an even more challenging ministry, he said yes!
So, with great affection, we say thanks be to God.
We recognize that Pope Benedict was God’s choice to Pastor the Church. We recognize too that the Holy Spirit will guide the choice of the next pope.
We received Cardinal Ratzinger as our Papa, the Holy Father. This was God’s gift to us: this person, at this day and age, and for this length of time. We will receive the next pope with the same trust in Divine Providence.
And we are called in love to share this gift … what gift? We certainly refer to the very person of Pope Benedict and his Petrine ministry as a gift to us.
But in terms of sharing a gift in love, we refer to the gifts that Pope Benedict (and his successor too) is called to steward: Jesus himself, as well as the Good News of the Kingdom of God, the church to continue Jesus’ mission, and the Sacraments by which we share in the life and the promise of Jesus.

Read more ...

Strengthen your relationship with Jesus, bishop says

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
The Year of Faith is about strengthening our relationship with Jesus and the practice of our Catholic Faith. Pope Benedict has identified one way to do this: by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The spirit of adoration, says the Holy Father, determines our life and enables us to celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive Holy Communion rightly.
How might that be? One way, to be sure, is by strengthening our friendship with Jesus. Making a visit or a holy hour of adoration, much like visiting a friend, says that Jesus means something to me, that I want to have a personal relationship, and that I want it to deepen – which we all know takes time, commitment.
Another way is by shaping us into the likeness of Jesus when we spend time with him. The wisdom of God teaches us that friends become like one another: “and his friend will be like himself” (Sirach 6:17).
And lastly because practices such as adoration, celebrating Holy Mass and receiving Communion require humility, recognizing that I deserve nothing and God owes me nothing.

Read more ...

Bishop requests prayers for rain, religious liberty

Bishop Michael O. Jackels has requested that the faithful pray for the following intentions:
For the blessing of moisture – that those who work the land can bring forth an abundant harvest, to inspire their praise of Divine Providence, to contribute to their material benefit, and to feed the hungry of the world.
For the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty – that all people in our country will recognize the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, the beauty of God’s plan for marriage, and the meaning of true religious liberty.

Bishop Jackels to lead rally on Friday, Jan. 25
Bishop Michael O. Jackels will lead a Rally for Religious Liberty at noon Friday, Jan. 25, at the U.S. Courthouse, 401 N. Market, in Wichita.
The monthly rallies at noon on the fourth Friday are held at the courthouse to pray for a change to the federal health mandate that would force some companies to act against their consciences and pay for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs.

Bishops to defend marriage, life and religious freedom

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
This holy season brings ready to mind the topics of marriage, life and liberty.
We have celebrated the birth of Jesus our Savior, who came to redeem us and assure our freedom as the children of God, and who lived with Mary and Joseph in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The same topics of marriage, life and liberty might also come ready to mind on account of election results this past November.
Attempts to redefine marriage. Indifference, even antagonism towards the sacredness of human life. Religious liberty and conscience protection taking a back seat to other issues in the minds of some voters.
In light of this, during their plenary meeting last November, the Bishops of the United States determined that there is a need for on-going efforts to defend life, marriage and religious liberty.
The leadership of the Bishops’ Conference is, for example, still in dialogue with the Administration about the HHS mandate, and there are lawsuits pending about the constitutionality of the legislation.
And there is a need for us to inform ourselves and others about what is at stake with the HHS mandate, the attempts to re-define marriage, and life issues. In addition, we need to put pressure on our elected representatives to act rightly or prepare to lose their jobs.
But the Bishops also want to promote spiritual efforts. They therefore are proposing a Call to Prayer for the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty during the remainder of the Year of Faith (end of November 2013):
Eucharistic Holy Hour to be held on the last Sunday of each month;
The Holy Rosary prayed by families and individuals;
Petitions for these three intentions whenever the Prayer of the Faithful is used at Holy Mass;
Fasting and abstinence from meat on every Friday for these intentions;
Prayer Rallies towards the end of June 2013 (speaking of rallies, the diocese will continue to host one every fourth Friday, at Noon, at the Federal Courthouse in Wichita, 401 N. Market Street, until the HHS mandate is overturned).
It is my hope that our celebration of the birth of Jesus our Savior – who came to redeem us and assure our freedom as the children of God, and who lived with Mary and Joseph in the Holy Family of Nazareth – will inspire our positive response to this Call to Prayer for the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty.
Allow me to take advantage of this opportunity to wish everyone a New Year of peace and prosperity.

Bishop requests prayers for two special intentions

Bishop Michael O. Jackels has requested that the faithful pray for the following intentions:
For the blessing of moisture – that those who work the land can bring forth an abundant harvest, to inspire their praise of Divine Providence, to contribute to their material benefit, and to feed the hungry of the world.
For the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty – that all people in our Country will recognize the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, the beauty of God’s plan for marriage, and the meaning of true religious liberty.

Prayer Intentions of Pope Benedict XVI
Here are Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for this month.
• That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
• That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.

Bishop requests prayers for two special intentions

Bishop Michael O. Jackels has requested that the faithful pray for the following intentions:
For the blessing of moisture – that those who work the land can bring forth an abundant harvest, to inspire their praise of Divine Providence, to contribute to their material benefit, and to feed the hungry of the world.
For the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty – that all people in our Country will recognize the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, the beauty of God’s plan for marriage, and the meaning of true religious liberty.

Prayer Intentions of Pope Benedict XVI
Here are Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for this month.
Migrants. That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities.
Christ, Light for All Humanity. That Christ may reveal Himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of His Church.
Intentions provided by the Apostleship of Prayer, www.apostleshipofprayer.org.

Bishop: strengthen your relationship with Jesus

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
The Year of Faith is about strengthening our relationship with Jesus and the practice of our Catholic Faith. Pope Benedict has identified one way to do this: by our readiness to serve others out of love.
Service of others is the guarantee that our worship of God is true, more than merely fulfilling a duty, more than an empty ritual.
One particular and recommended way to share our gifts is to teach children, youth and other learners in some form of religious education or faith formation what we ourselves learn about Christ and his Church.
Learning and teaching Christ is for a number of reasons the most important work we do as Catholics.
It is important because the people who worship at Holy Mass or serve the poor (as well as other works of religion or mercy) do these things because they love God, which is inspired by their knowing God, which they can claim because someone – a parent, a pastor or a religion teacher – taught them about God.
Learning and teaching Christ is also important because Jesus gave all of his followers the great commission to teach others all that he himself taught.
And it is important on account of how it makes it possible that the learners of today, when they become the leaders of tomorrow will make decisions that reflect reverence for the sacredness of human life and the dignity of every human person, and that because someone taught them about Christ and his Catholic Church.
Everything else we do as Catholics rises or falls on the vigor of our efforts to learn and teach Christ. Therefore, even if we do not have children or school-age children, learning and teaching Christ should be a priority for all of us.
If we do not feel called or able formally to teach others about our Catholic Faith, we can still teach them informally, by witnessing to our faith when we lovingly serve one another.
Serving and sharing with, in love of God and neighbor, is our grateful response to recognizing and receiving all that we are, can do, and have as a gift from God. We serve and share with others either within our parish or diocesan Church family or outside in the general community.
This is not something optional – this is a way of life for Christians; a stewardship way of life. Just as service of others is the guarantee that our worship of God is true, it is also a sign that we are true followers of Jesus.
We are not all able to serve and share with others in the same way, but we can and should do something according to our gifts and circumstances. And every gift shared in love of God and neighbor is valued and significant.
What will you do during this Year of Faith to strengthen your relationship with Jesus by serving and sharing with others in love?

Strengthen your relationship with Jesus, practice your faith

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
The Year of Faith is about strengthening our relationship with Jesus and the practice of our Catholic Faith. Pope Benedict identified one way to do this: by making more real our sense of belonging to the universal church family.
Faith leads us to friendship with Jesus, who leads us to his family, the church, which we experience mostly in our parish. But our church family also includes Catholics in our diocese and all over the globe, as well as the saints in Heaven and the poor souls in Purgatory.
And the badge of membership in this church family, according to Saint Ambrose, is love for each other. We each (including the saints and the poor souls) bear a share of responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus and to care for each other’s well-being.
For example, with regard to the saints, while there is no service we can offer them, we call upon them for their intercession. The poor souls, on the other hand, cannot offer us a service, but there is one we can render them.
The bible teaches that nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Rev 21:27). Some of us may still need, after death, before entering Heaven, to be purged of the temporal punishment due our past and forgiven sins. Purgatory is the name given to this final purification.
Temporal punishment? Jesus’ mercy takes away eternal punishment due to sins. But justice demands that we make amends for the disorder caused by our sins; this is called temporal (not eternal) punishment.
Let us say that in anger you broke my window. You afterwards repented and asked pardon. I forgive you, but justice demands that you make amends by replacing my window – temporal punishment.
Temporal punishment is why the priest in Confession gives us a penance, and why we practice penance and works of mercy as part of our Christian life. If we have not satisfied justice during earthly life, then before entering Heaven we need to undergo the final purification of Purgatory.
And just as others can chip in to help pay for the window you broke, so we can help the poor souls in Purgatory satisfy temporal punishment that justice might still demand for past and forgiven sins.
We can serve the well-being of the poor souls by praying to God that their final purification be quickened: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
The best prayer we can offer is of course Holy Mass. We can make the eternal rest of the faithful departed our intention at Mass, or ask a priest to make it his (when we do that it is customary to give the priest a five dollar stipend, though neither the gift nor the amount is required).
What will you do in this Year of Faith to make real your sense of belonging to the church family in your parish, the diocese, all over the globe, Heaven and in Purgatory? What will you do to bear a share of responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus and for each other’s well-being?

Strengthen your relationship with Jesus

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
The need for us, in the Year of Faith, to strengthen our relationship with Jesus and the practice of our Catholic Faith has been greatly on the mind of Pope Benedict.
Not long after announcing the Year of Faith, the Pope shared with the Cardinals in the Vatican his concern for the Church, especially in Europe, saying that it is characterized by “faith fatigue … [a] sense of having had enough of Christianity.”
As evidence of this, the Holy Father observed that regular churchgoers are increasing in age and decreasing in numbers; that recruitment of priestly vocations is stagnating; and that skepticism and unbelief are growing.
Pope Benedict contrasted the faith fatigue in Europe with the “joyful passion for the faith” that he encountered in his pastoral visit to Benin in Africa and to World Youth Day in Spain.
He described what he experienced on these visits as “a new, more youthful form of Christianity” that is expressed in five notable ways:
• Belonging to a universal Church family. We have the same inner encounter with Jesus as the basis of our living faith. We pray in the same way, especially in our common liturgy.
• Readiness to serve others. The encounter with Jesus inflames us with love that inspires service, even self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
• Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The spirit of adoration determines our life and enables us to celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive Holy Communion rightly.
• Making a regular Confession. This calls for humility, asking God for forgiveness, seeking purification, and awakening in us love of God and others.
• Living in joy. This comes from the certainty that we are loved, accepted, wanted by God. Only then can we love and accept ourselves.
The Church in our country, in order not to follow what is happening in Europe, should ensure that these five notable expressions of a more youthful form of Christianity are in evidence here as well.
And if this is going to happen on a national level, then it has to begin on a local and personal level: in the Diocese, in each parish and institution, in each religious community, and in each of the faithful.
What will you do during this Year of Faith?