This year, as our diocese celebrates its 150th anniversary, it is only appropriate to stop and thank our predecessors. Our diocese is blessed with hospitals, schools, shelters for homeless people, financial assistance for the poor and so many other works of charity. The vision and fortitude of past bishops, priests, women and men religious, and faithful lay people continue to provide meaning and direction to our daily lives. It is because of their Faith, hard work and resilience that today, we can continue to enjoy the beauty of our Catholic Faith.
Charity is the signature of our Catholic Faith and it’s our identity. Our parishes and all their apostolates have charity as their mission. There are many examples throughout our diocese of parishioners who have heard Christ’s call to put love into practice. In Loyal, they heard the cry of homeless women and opened up the House of Mercy. The call to help homeless people was also answered by the communities in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Wausau. Parishes know the needs of their local community and together are best equipped to respond. We are blessed in our diocese with families and individuals that understand and live their Catholic Faith as taught by Christ in His Gospel, and therefore actively participate in acts of charity through social ministries in their communities.
In an era when we sometimes think we have no need for God who loved us unto death, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul II, Servant of God Father Joseph Walijewski and so many others remind us that true happiness can only be found in the simplicity of love. Not love the feeling, but true love. Practical love is defined by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 14:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Our society is wounded. We are wounded and in need of understanding, forgiveness and love. It is for this reason that our mission is more relevant than ever. We have been entrusted by Christ to love the poor and marginalized through charity. Because we are Catholic and our mission is love, we need to live Christ’s Gospel of Life, promote respect for the dignity of every human person, and meet the challenges of our fallen nature with concrete actions.
By Roberto Partarrieu,
Executive Director, Catholic Charities