In gratitude to God…

2017 – The year of natural disasters beyond compare; ruthless, senseless mass shootings; political disharmony; racial acts of violence…the list goes on.  At first thought, many of us might wish to wipe 2017 from the compendium of time as if it never happened.

Yet, pausing, taking a step back and reflecting upon all that humanity has experienced this year reveals to the world ever more so the beauty of the Incarnation – the Word Made Flesh, Christ among us!  Through his life, death, and resurrection, not only did Jesus fulfill his mission of restoring humanity’s relationship with God, offering salvation for all, he modeled for each of us the way of surrender, of trust, of endurance and perseverance, of never giving up on God’s divine providence and will in all things.  On the night before he was betrayed, he cried out to his Father in anticipation of his passion, and then he ultimately surrendered as he prayed “not my will, but yours be done.”  (Luke 22:42) He trusted that no matter how hard, how painful the events to follow might be, his Father would hold him and keep him in his care.  He endured the brutality that was inflicted upon him, and he finally saw his time on earth come to an end, persevering until death on the cross.

In all that humanity has endured in 2017 it would be so easy to lose hope, to give up and give in to despair if we remain at the cross and do not believe in the Resurrection.  Light follows darkness and hope remains strong when we encounter the Risen Lord in all aspects of life! In and through Christ, we can and will persevere, and this has been revealed time and again this year through the many caring people who have been the hands and feet of Christ, bringing help and hope to those in need.

After the rains of Hurricane Harvey stopped, one of the first questions asked of others was, “Did your house flood?”  Many whose homes did not flood quickly replied, “No, I was blessed!”  For those who did flood, hearing this response brought painful expressions to their faces, and their minds might have questioned, “Am I not blessed because I did flood?”

“To be blessed” can be understood in different ways, and for many people being blessed might mean being without hardships.  But for those who have hardships, how do they know and understand blessing?  Turning to the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), we hear Christ’s words of blessing speak in seemingly paradoxical ways…

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…

            Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted…

            Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…”

What may seem a paradox, in actuality, is the rootedness of “blessing” for us – a divine and life-giving action, which finds its source in the Father as we praise God in all things with hearts surrendered to Him in gratitude.  (CCC1078)

Some of us may have faced hardships beyond words this year; others of us may have been spared personal hardships while given the opportunity to respond to others in need with hearts of compassion and mercy.  Regardless of what each of us experienced in 2017, may we realize our blessings, and may we offer hearts of gratitude in praise and surrender to our God this Thanksgiving, and throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons and beyond!

In the peace of Christ,

Jan Skrehot

Thoughts and Prayers for our friends in Texas

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Texas who are suffering under the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, among them our current President, Jan Skrehot, our former President, Garland Pohl and many ecumenical colleagues and friends. We join our prayers to theirs for the safety of all those affected by the storm.

A statement from Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston:

“Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region. The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them. Many dioceses of the Church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues.

As the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, this crisis hits very close to home. In solidarity with my brother bishops in this area of the country, I call on people of faith to pray for all of those who have been impacted by this Hurricane, and I ask people of good will to stand with the victims and their families. May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion, protect all who are still in danger, and bring to safety those who are missing. May He care in a special way for those who were already homeless, or without support and resources, before this disaster. We pray in thanksgiving for the first responders who are risking their lives to save others at this very moment. We include in our intentions the everyday heroes reaching out to help their neighbors in need, those who, like the Good Samaritan, cannot walk by a person in need without offering their hand in aid.

The USCCB is working closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic Charities USA and St. Vincent de Paul, along with other relief organizations, to assess the needs on the ground. In the next couple of days, we will share more about the best ways to assist those in the Gulf region with material needs based on the latest information we can gather. May God bless you and your families this day and always.




Call for the 2018 KAICIID Fellows Cohort

Dear CADEIO members,  

Bishop James Massa, Diocese of Brooklyn, is one of the Holy See’s representatives to the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) Board of Advisors.  He would like to introduce you to KAICIID and invite you to explore the possibility of applying for one of their Fellows Programs.   

Among KAICIID’s various projects is a Fellows Program that trains teachers of future religious leaders in the skills of interreligious dialogue. At this time KAICIID is looking to constitute their African Fellows Program for the 2018 Cohort.   

For further information, you may go online on the Centre’s website.  The deadline to apply is August 31, 2017.   Website:  @KAICIID. 

Warm regards, 

Jan Skrehot