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.
As we wait for the birth of the Lord at Christmas, the season of Advent gives us many special opportunities to prepare ourselves through catechetical offerings, prayers services and the sacrament of reconcilation. Listed below are opportunties for reconcilation, either in a penance service or simply times for reconciliation, in parishes throughout the diocese. If you are unable to make it to one of the parishes at the times below, please call your parish to set up an appointment with the pastor. As parishes report their dates, more will be added.
By Deacon Dan Leetch
Bishop’s Pastoral Associate for Prison Ministry
It is quite possible that the Diocese of Pueblo has more prisons per Catholic than any other diocese in the United States. We have 19 prison facilities and about 63,000 Catholics, which means that we have one prison for every 3,315 Catholics. That’s a LOT of prisons!
The prison facilities are located in five of the geographical areas of our diocese. In the La Junta Deanery there are three facilities; Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley, Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas. All of these are medium custody facilities; AVCF is a state DOC facility, and the other two are run by CCA, a for-profit private prison system based in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Trinidad Correctional Facility is located northeast of Trinidad, also in the La Junta Deanery. It is a minimum restrictive state DOC facility, and houses inmates who are preparing for release.
Delta Correctional Center is located west of Delta, in the Grand Junction Deanery. It is a minimum custody state DOC facility, and is the only facility in the Diocese of Pueblo that is on the Western Slope.
The two Pueblo Deaneries are home to 14 facilities. Three of these are in the city of Pueblo itself: San Carlos Correctional Facility; La Vista Correctional Facility, the only women’s facility in our diocese; and the Youthful Offender System for underage males.
The Knights of Columbus Council No. 1408 and Fourth Degree Assembly 2072 from Durango painted the house of fellow Brother, Clarence Abeyta and his wife Grace on October 15. Clarence was recovering from a stroke suffered shortly before they were to move into their new home. The Knights put in about 150 man-hours of labor in the effort.
By Father Matthew Wertin
Two of the famous “Inklings” (an informal group of Oxford scholars who became friends), C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, both born in the final years of the 19th Century, and both publishing their major works in the early 1950’s, continue to have their literature turned into Hollywood Blockbusters. This is quite a remarkable accomplishment in light of our highly stimulated, sound-bite, flash-mob, gadgets-galore culture. What they wrote still appeals enough to people to sell big. And what is it exactly they wrote about? Well, all the stuff that matters: sin and grace, human dignity and its perversions, all in the great struggle for redemption through the victory of good over evil.
In the first installment of the Chronicles of Narnia (the order of the books, not the movies), we come across a mighty queen whose vanity led her to witchcraft, which caused her to only notice those people who are of use to her, or else those who are getting in her way and thus need to be destroyed. Does that ring any bells? She causes all kinds of trouble in a world where a mighty Lion has, by song, created all things new, with various individuals unique in their personality (and role), though equal in their dignity. Our world is not much different, it seems.
By Deacon Dan Leetch, Bishop’s Pastoral Associate for Institutional Ministries
There are five major college or university campuses in the vast area of the Diocese of Pueblo. These are Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, with an enrollment of over 9,500 students; CSUPueblo, with an enrollment of about 4,500; Ft. Lewis College in Durango, with an enrollment of about 4,100, Adams State University, with an enrollment of about 3,300, and Western Colorado State University in Gunnison, with an enrollment of about 2,100. Each of these campuses has a campus minister assigned to aid students in continuing their practice of the Catholic faith as they work their way through college life. They are supported through the Diocesan Ministry Fund and a Catholic Extension Grant, as well as smaller private donations.
At each campus we strive to incorporate the six aspects of Catholic Campus Ministry as outlined in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document Empowered by the Spirit. This document represents the capstone of the development that has taken place in Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) in the past 100+ years, beginning with a petition from 300 Catholic students at the University of Wisconsin to their bishop to provide ministry to them in 1906. Fr. Henry Hengell was appointed by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer and the history of CCM at non-Catholic universities and colleges began.
In today’s CCM, each minister has the following goals:
1) Forming the Faith Community
2) Appropriating the faith
3) Forming the Christian Conscience
4) Educating for Justice
5) Facilitating Personal Development
6) Developing Leaders for the Future.