Bishop Berg encouraged by Pueblo Convocation

By Bishop Stephen Berg
This upcoming weekend we celebrate the Solemnity, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Also known as Corpus Christi Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ passing on his very self, his enduring life, his real presence.

In the Gospel of Mark the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper is proclaimed. Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying “Take it; this is my body. . . This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

The Catholic faith is unique in following this specific teaching of Jesus. Bishop Robert Barron points out that we, as disciples, do more than merely follow the teachings of Jesus or practice spiritual exercises. In participating in the Eucharist we become Jesus, participating in his divine nature. Jesus became human so that we might become divine. That is why our faith centers so importantly on our reception, or eating and drinking, Jesus’ Body and Blood.

Our faith in the Eucharist further draws us deeper into understanding ourselves, our diocese, as the Body of Christ.

To further grow our faith, we have successfully held the Diocese of Pueblo Convocation 2018, a unique event where almost 300 clergy and lay ministers representing 98 percent of our parishes gathered to learn, discuss, discern and pray about the shaping of future leadership at the local parish level. This was an amazing convocation, centered on the future of the program The Amazing Parish, led by Bill Weingartner and associates of the AP group. We look now to an ordered, flexible and energetic approach in building leadership teams for our mission and our future.

The exercises and programs we initiated during the past year are coming to fruition. Just one year ago the diocese began to refine its future strategic plan around the Study Days conference led by Sherry Weddell from her book “Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path of Knowing and Following Jesus.” Our next step was to begin to build a common, practical vocabulary for more effective communication using the simple tools of Catholic leadership: The “Four Levels of Happiness” (Spitzer Center for Visionary Leadership). As of this date, the Four Levels have now been presented to more than 1300 diocesan parishioners. We are making progress!

There was also a very saddening event in May. Our Father Ben Bacino, a priest to the diocese for 43 years and a friend to so many, was called home to our loving Father. We are in deep mourning for our loss and in prayers for his family and the parishioners at St. Mary, Help of Christians, his parish. This has been a difficult period for our diocese. In the past 14 months we have lost Msgr. Len Racki, Fr. Richard Becker, Fr. Ray Grimes, Fr. Bill Gleeson, Bishop Arthur Tafoya, and now Fr. Ben. Please pray for our priests, and for vocations. The diocese is setting out new structures and goals for vocations and receiving positive responses from some excellent candidates. Continue to pray that God will provide workers for the harvest.

I wish to send my most heartfelt appreciation to all who worked so hard to prepare our candidates for first sacraments, especially First Holy Communion and Confirmation this past year. The celebrations were beautiful and always I am encouraged to see the growth in faith not only in those receiving the sacraments, but also in those who teach, nurture and encourage their response. What wonderful, faith filled people we have doing this evangelical work in our diocese!

Finally, I pray that each and every one of us experience the Holy Spirit in new ways this summer. As we have prepared ourselves through these ongoing transitions, we are consoled that the arrival of the Spirit is undeniable. God speaks to each of us in ways that our hearts cannot miss, and he assures us that he will not pass by unnoticed. Prepare, open your hearts, and wait with sure hope. Let all our relationships be deepened and made holy, and may we find the grace to live with the new energy and self-awareness that is only given by the Holy Spirit.