Christmas Letter from Most Rev. Stephen J. Berg

Greetings in the Lord to all the people of the Diocese of Pueblo!

As we enter the beautiful season of winter and prepare to celebrate our first Holy Christmas season together, I am reminded of my college student years of coming home to Montana at Christmastime. I studied variously in Spokane, Boulder, and Portales, New Mexico. In those days, whether arranging a flight by standby or passage by bus, train or eighteen wheeler, coming home was always an adventure.

One year, due to a snow whiteout, the pilot of a connecting flight through Casper, Wyoming was forced to land in a cornfield near the Casper airport. The tops of the corn stalks whizzed by as the plane slid to a stop. Emergency vehicles, lights flashing and sirens wailing, came to our rescue. That year I was well-prepared for the hearty welcome of my father and older siblings when I arrived in Billings and, after a 140 mile drive on the snow-packed, deer populated Montana highway to Miles City, for the loving greeting of my mother and the lineup of all the rest at the door of our home. How warm and wonderful those homecomings were!

In this, my first Christmas as your Bishop, we share not only our journey, but also our first homecoming together. The very Colorado highways we drive lead us through the exorbitant, exuberant and exploding story of God’s creation—the hills, dales, deserts, mountains, valleys, skies, towns, cities, weather and wildlife. The road itself teaches us to pay attention. You cannot dwell too long on what’s in the rear view mirror, nor in the vista ahead, for the roads wind and turn, the landscape and weather change, and you must drive the car “in the present tense.” This rings true in so many areas of my first year of ministry as Bishop as I learn to navigate the map of geography, culture and history . . . listening, exploring, working. With your help, through your prayers, I am arriving at a new understanding of my vocation as your Shepherd, at this our first homecoming together.

For this homecoming is not ours alone. It is the homecoming of Jesus, born in a manger to Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels, to us: His homecoming, quiet yet glorious in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. It is the homecoming of Christ who appears to us unexpectedly in this moment, today, in the present tense. It is the opening of our eternal homecoming of joy, foretold by the prophets and marked by the sacred Star. It is the homecoming of Emmanuel to those who are impoverished, unwelcomed and given to us by Christ that we might recognize, greet and nurture Him in the lives of all our brothers and sisters, even and especially those who are left out in the cold of this world.

Sharing this sacred homecoming with you, I give Our Lord thanks for sending me to you, for your warm and loving welcome, and for your faithfulness. I give thanks for you and your families, and for the road ahead. I lift my prayers and send you the blessings of our newborn Christ, that you and yours may have the joy of the true homecoming of Jesus this Christmas season!

May He be with you this Holy Season, now and forever.