By BISHOP ROBERT J. BAKER
On Dec. 31, 2001, the Diocese of Charleston concludes its Year of Reconciliation with its December intention — Union of Mind and Heart with God.
Our monthly themes for reflection and prayer in 2001 have centered around the need for us as a diocesan church to embrace the legitimate diversities that characterize our church — being multiracial, multicultural, multilingual, with different political views and social and economic strata; but we also realize the need to experience ourselves as one body, reconciled in Christ through the church.
In the Year of Reconciliation, we saw ourselves implementing the theme of the Jubilee Year, which had been to “Open Wide the Doors to Christ,” by opening wide the doors of our hearts so that people of all cultures would feel at home in our parishes and missions, our schools and our diocese.
I thank all those who participated in our efforts for reconciliation in the year 2001 and in our Year of Prayer the previous year, 2000.
In the year 2002, we will begin a Year of Evangelization, the first of several years involving us as a diocese in a concerted way in fostering parish and diocesan efforts at evangelization.
I invite all parishes and missions to participate in this important effort and focus all pastoral initiatives for the next several years around evangelization. Evangelization should be regarded as the number one priority of our diocese at this time.
We will initiate our evangelization efforts formally with an event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Saturday, Jan. 26, on the theme “Go and Make Disciples.” The apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, will celebrate the liturgy at 4 p.m. and preach. Prior to the liturgy, workshops will be held by a variety of notable speakers around the theme of evangelization in a multicultural environment. The archbishop will address Hispanic Catholics at a session prior to the liturgy.
I invite all parishes and missions to send representatives to this conference. More information will be presented about this event in subsequent issues of The New Catholic Miscellany.
The diocese will also initiate the Disciples in Mission effort in 2002 for our parishes and missions to foster a united plan for evangelization, encouraging parishes and missions to supplement this united effort with whatever additional efforts they may see fit.
May we as a diocese unite with our Holy Father in implementing his efforts for a new evangelization throughout our church!