The Shepherd Boy and the Candy Cane

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
December 2011

By B. Kay Baird, St. Gregory Nazianzen Parish, Sitka

Folk-lore has many tales of the origin of the candy cane,
I wish I knew the truth of it; sweet mystery it remains.
So I’ll tell a little story I made up the other day
Of the beginning of the candy cane; this is what I’d say.

Jimmy was a happy boy of days not so long ago.
His life was spent with sheep and friends and so my story goes.
Jimmy passed his church as he ran his flock from pasture broad and steep.
He’d bow before the Cross of Christ and pray “Lord, safety for my sheep.”

This was noticed by old Fran–This boy with his shepherd’s staff.
She loved how hard he worked, yet how easily he laughed.
‘Twas on Christmas day just after the breaking of the dawn,
When Jimmy herded his flock past the church in the little town.

Two ladies prayed their beads as the priest was getting ready.
When Jimmy beheld the Christmas tree standing tall and steady.
He smelled the cookies and twirled the fruit laughing out loud with joy,
“This tree has enough treats for every girl and boy!”

Old granny called, “That’s for the young who attend here today,
Take your noisy sheep boy, and go away, go away!”
Yet Fran, plump and sweet with a twinkle in her eyes,
Smiled, “Stay Jimmy; pray with us–today promises a surprise!”

“I will attend,” said Jimmy as the flock moved to a vacant lot.
“My dogs will tend the sheep as I celebrate,” he thought.

The gracious love of God truly blessed the humble place.
Peace, love and joy shown from every face.
With “Merry Christmas to you!” and “May your year be bright!”
The children gathered ’round the tree to see the happy sight.

Fran came bustling in with a basket on her arm.
Her floppy stockings only added to her charm.
“Look here, look here! I have something special to say,
A reminder to think of Jesus on this holy day!”

Lifting a candy cane she smiled, “the souls of the holy family would be the purest white.
Only holiness could embrace baby Jesus on that Special night.
On the cane are stripes, stripes of brilland red.
Recalling the precious blood our Savior later shed.”

Fran passed out the lovely treats to all that Christmas day.
The biggest cane went to Jimmy as they heard her say,
“Jimmy, keep your faith alive–hold fast to your staff.
Draw your friends to God and always keep your laugh!
For Jesus is our good shepherd–with his staff he draws us in,
His pasture for us is heaven…as he frees us from our sins.”

And so this shepherd boy grew and as a man became,
A bishop to a larger flock; he called them each by name.
Each time he passed the cross as he started his busy day;
“Keep your people free from Sin,” he would always pray.
The tree was trimmed each year in only red and white.
The Christmas tree bowed down with canes to old Fran’s delight!

Unconditional Parental Love

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
December 2011

By Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See http://www.ncbcenter.org

Once I met a woman who had worked for years in fashion and modeling. Unsurprisingly, she was strikingly attractive. She was accompanied by her teenage daughter who, by contrast, was rather unremarkable to look at, maybe even a plain-Jane. After spending time with them, I began to sense that the mother, whose life had largely revolved around her appearance, seemed to look down on her daughter, perhaps unconsciously, because of her average appearance. Her daughter seemed aware of this lack of maternal acceptance, and seemed troubled and uncomfortable as she tried to compensate and please her mom in other ways.

The girl’s situation was a strong reminder to me of how important it is for every child to experience unconditional acceptance from their parents if they are to grow and mature in a healthy way. Unconditional love profoundly and beautifully molds us as human beings.

A growing number of parents in our society, however, no longer seem to hold to this key notion of unconditionally accepting their own children. If parents are told by doctors that their children might be born with physical or mental disabilities, many parents today will reject them and even yield to the temptation to end their lives through direct abortion.

I was recently discussing the Special Olympics with the father of a boy who has Down syndrome, and he remarked that when he takes his son to the local chapter, there seem to be reduced numbers of new children participating each year. He wondered if this could be due to the expanded targeting of Down syndrome children through prenatal testing and abortion.

Most unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome, in fact, are never allowed to be born. Data from the United Kingdom indicate that between 1989 and 2006 approximately 92% of women chose to terminate a pregnancy with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, while in the U.S., several published studies suggest the figure may be somewhere between 87% and 98%. A great many Down syndrome children, indeed, never see the light of day.

In the face of these harsh data, the importance of explicitly repudiating the eugenic mindset that has taken hold in our society cannot be overstated. No child is perfect, but every child is precious. We need to act as a people “set apart” in our attitude to the begetting of children who may be disabled. Historically, Catholics have always stood apart in this way.

Practically, this means overturning our culturally-conditioned attitudes towards “imperfect” children, and accepting every child without preconditions. We must push back against the almost ubiquitous pressure that counsels us to ensure that our children are born without defects.

Bioethicist Luke Gormally argues it this way: “In part these pressures are the natural temptation to avoid the burdens of care for the handicapped… In part, however, they are the pressures of cultural attitudes, assimilated by many Christians, towards the child.”
He continues: “For many it has become merely quaint to think of each child as a unique gift of God; children are more like planned acquisitions in our culture, acquisitions which should fit into our expectations about how our lives should go, about the ease and enjoyments that should characterize our lifestyle. A child who might threaten our ease may, if he or she is viewed as an acquisition, be thought of as a replaceable acquisition. And indeed genetic counselors will tell parents: you can terminate this pregnancy and try again for a ‘normal child.’”

A husband and wife are called to give themselves to each other completely and unreservedly, and to accept each other unconditionally in the marital embrace. Every child of theirs, whether entering the world with a handicap or not, is an expression and fruit of themselves and their acceptance of each other. To reject their own progeny because of a disability is to reject each other on some level. To deny life to their own flesh and blood is also to reject an infinite gift from the Giver of gifts, and to arrogate to themselves a ruthless power over life. Meanwhile, the unconditional acceptance of a child as a gift of God flows from the true and unconditional acceptance of each other as husband and wife, even with all their spousal faults and defects.

As Gormally concludes, “Truly unreserved self-giving carries with it a commitment to unreserved acceptance of the fruit of that self-giving. The dignity of the child is only adequately recognized in the acceptance and cherishing of him just as he is.”
We do well continually to realign our thinking, so we can come to see how our children, whether “perfect” or not, are treasures and never possessions; they are gifts, and never acquisitions. They are blessings to be safeguarded and nurtured in the embrace of unconditional parental acceptance.

We have the Body of Christ

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
December 2011

by Denise Bossert,

This time of year, my mind goes back to Door County, Wisconsin. I wistfully remember our summer vacation. The ferry ride to Washington Island. Walleye at the English Inn. The bag of cheese curd next to a bottle of wine in our room’s refrigerator.

I imagine I’m standing on Ephraim’s shore and scanning the hillside across the bay where shops and art studios dot the landscape. I have trouble envisioning a snow-covered bay. I don’t suppose people are running along the shore or riding bikes like they did last June. Seasons change places like Door County, Wisconsin.
And I wonder about St. Rosalia, the Stella Maris parish in Sister Bay where we worshipped Our Lord last summer.

Something unusual happened the day we visited that parish.  After genuflecting, we slipped into a row and leaned forward to lower the kneelers. There were no kneelers to lower.
My husband and I wondered for a moment if we had made a mistake. Was this really a Catholic parish? I looked at the inside of the church. Yes, there’s Our Lady. It must be Catholic.

It was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. And we were in a Catholic church, but we wouldn’t be kneeling at the moment of Consecration – the very moment that the Corpus Christi would come to us in the Eucharist.

My heart ached for kneelers. Doesn’t that sound strange coming from a former Protestant who spent forty years in churches that didn’t have kneelers?
I wondered as I sat there. Why had they left out kneelers when they built this church? I guessed that the decision had been made in an attempt to welcome visitors. This area of Wisconsin had its share of tourists. I suspected that the parishioners had hoped to welcome anyone and everyone.

I visited a few Catholic churches as a child. On those rare occasions, I did think the kneelers were a strange addition to a sanctuary. Kneelers were part of the list of Catholic oddities that included incense, bells and statues.

So why was my heart heavy on that Solemnity of Corpus Christi? If I could live without kneelers for forty years, surely I could worship without them during this one Mass.
But there’s one thing that changes everything for me. That one thing is Jesus Christ, Our Eucharistic Lord.

I came to the Catholic Church with a love for Christ, and when I grasped the Truth – that this same Christ was truly present in the Eucharist –  everything changed.
I thought of St. Paul’s letters. To the Romans, he writes, “As I live, every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” To the Philippians, St. Paul writes, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth.”

That day in Door County, I knew that this same Lord would come to all of us. And there was no kneeler upon which to bend our knees.

At the end of Mass, the priest made an announcement. “There are envelopes in the pews if you wish to make a donation for kneelers. We want to comply fully with our Bishop’s mandate for every parish in the diocese to have kneelers,” he said.

I blinked back tears. This bishop was a shepherd after St. Paul’s own heart! And I pulled out my checkbook and wrote a check.

I understand the desire to make all people feel welcome. And I remember all too well what it was like to see the kneelers and not understand. To watch the incense going up, to hear the bells and not know that Jesus Christ had just arrived.

Just bells for no reason. Incense to be different. Kneelers to pray when I could pray while standing or sitting, whether indoors or outside.

But if you had asked me what I would do if Jesus Christ walked through the door, if Jesus came to me in the Flesh and stood before me – even back then I would have smiled and answered without hesitation.

I’d hit my knees.

There is one thing in the Mass that changes everything. Jesus Christ comes to us really and truly- Corpus Christi. All praise, glory, honor and power belong to Our Lord.

God bless the bishops for reminding us: We have the Body of Christ.

Denise Bossert has four children and is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary in New Melle, Missouri. She is a Catholic freelance writer for diocesan newspapers, Canticle Magazine, and other Catholic venues. Her blog can be found at catholicbygrace.blogspot.com

May We Come To Share In The Divinity Of Christ

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
December 2011

“O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”   – Collect for Christmas, Mass during the Day

By Deacon Charles Rohrbacher, Office of Ministries

Last year I was approached after Sunday Mass by two six year old sisters, Ani and Jessica Rice who are young members of the Cathedral parish. As full, conscious and active participants in the liturgy they have been paying such careful attention to the liturgy that they noticed, during the Preparation of the Gifts that, as the deacon, it had been my part to pour the wine and then a few drops of water into the chalice. I replied that yes, that is a beautiful moment in the Mass and I asked them if they knew that there is a special prayer that the deacon says in a quiet voice while he adds the water to the wine. They gave me that somewhat annoyed look that children sometimes give you when you are stating the obvious, then said in unison and word for word: By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

Pretty impressive for a pair of First Graders! I learned later that they had memorized this profound and beautiful prayer through their participation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at the Cathedral. Based on the educational method of Maria Montessori and founded by Sofia Cavalleti and Gianna Gobbi in Rome in 1954, catechists, parents and other adults help the children to encounter the mystery of Jesus in sacred scripture and the liturgy through a pedagogy that is developmentally appropriate for them.

As our celebration of Christmas comes nearer, I am reminded that this prayer which the deacon or priest says at each celebration of the Mass, is based on the Collect for Christmas (Mass of the Day). In just a few vivid lines, this collect outlines reasons for the Incarnation and its ultimate purpose for our lives. It begins by explicitly recalling our original dignity as human beings made in the divine image and likeness in these words: ‘O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature.’ Implicitly, the second part of prayer, which reads ‘and [who] still more wonderfully restored it,’ recalls the catastrophe of the Fall, how our fallen nature was disfigured and darkened by sin, our need for redemption and our restoration in Christ to our full dignity as sons and daughters of the Father.

The prayer then goes on to ask God to grant, ‘that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.’ In the second part of the sentence we are on familiar ground: at Christmas we celebrate the Incarnation, when the Word became flesh and united in the person of Jesus a human and a divine nature. This part of the prayer echoes St. Paul, who, in his famous hymn in the Letter to the Philippians praises Jesus, who though Son and divine, refused to claim the privileges of divinity but instead emptied himself and became human, and a slave. A great mystery to be sure, but familiar enough.

But the request in the first clause, to share in the divinity of Christ, is perplexing. How can we ask God to allow us to share in the divinity of his Son? Wasn’t the sin of our first parents precisely the desire on their part to seize hold of divinity?
Recall from the creation account in Genesis how Adam and Eve grasped after divinity itself when the Evil One, out of envy and malice, lied to them by promising that if they ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would become like gods. Instead, by their disobedience, which alienated them from God, the author of life and everything that is good, they became subject to the power of sin, corruption, sickness and death.

Yet the original intention of the Creator was that the men and women he created would participate in the divine life. Not by becoming gods or by being absorbed in Divinity, but by choosing, freely, to enter into the communion of divine love that is the Blessed Trinity. The First Adam abandoned this communion of love (and the deepest imperatives of his human nature) by attempting to seize divine power.

Jesus, the Second Adam, out of love, freely gave up divine power and assumed the burden of our fallen nature and became subject to suffering, death and all of the many consequences of sin, although without sin himself. Why? So that we might be redeemed and share in his divinity.

That we might share in Christ’s divinity. Not divinity in an abstract or general way, but specifically in the divine nature revealed to us in Jesus as self-giving, self-sacrificing love. This, I think, is why this ancient prayer from the Mass of Christmas is the prayer said at every Mass by the deacon, ordained to be the icon and symbol of Christ the Servant, (or in his absence, the celebrant, who was first ordained as a deacon before his priestly ordination) mingles a few drops of water with the wine.

The mixing of the water and wine symbolizes the union of Christ with his faithful. St. Cyprian of Carthage, writing in the third century explaining the practice of mixing water with the wine during the celebration of the Eucharist wrote:
“we see [how] the water stands for the people whereas the wine stands for the blood of Christ. When water is united with the wine in the cup, the people are made one with Christ; the believing people are joined and united with him in whom they believe.”

But it also symbolizes our desire to be like Jesus, to live a life poured out for others in service and self-giving. His body broken and lifeblood poured out, both symbolized and actualized in the Bread of Life and the Chalice of Salvation, reveal to us the true nature of divinity. We ask to share in the divinity of Jesus, not to be exalted but to be humbled, not to be served but to serve, not to receive but to give.

As St. Athanasius, the fourth century defender of the divinity of Jesus at the Council of Nicea preached so often: God became man so that man might become godlike. This then, is the joy, the wonder, the paradox, the mystery, and the enduring call to conversion revealed to us as we celebrate the birth of the Lord.

“The Hispanic Community: Culture, Presence and Challenges”

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
December 2011

by Most Reverend Edward J. Burns

On December 12th we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For Catholics worldwide she is the patroness of the Americas, from Barrow, Alaska to the southern point of South America. Hispanic Catholics, especially Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have a deep and abiding devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Just two years ago an estimated 6.1 million pilgrims visited her shrine on December 11-12, 2009, making it the most visited center of Catholic devotion in the world.

The Hispanic presence in Alaska and especially in our region goes back over 200 years to the exploration of the Alexander Archipelago and Prince William Sound by Spanish explorers in the late 18th century. Although the Spanish never established settlements in Alaska, they left behind place names such as Valdez, Cordova, Revillagigedo Island and Malaspiña Glacier.

Two centuries later, Hispanic communities throughout our state are growing. Since 1980 Alaska’s Hispanic population has grown from 9,000 to 39,000. Hispanics now make up 5.5% of the Alaskan population, up from 3.2% three decades ago. In the United States, Hispanics are the largest minority group in the country: the estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of 2009 is 48.4 million people. It is projected that Hispanics will surpass the 132.8 million mark by the year 2050.

Many Hispanics first came to Alaska with the military or as migrant, seasonal workers. While there are still many Hispanic seasonal workers, especially in fish processing in Southeast, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor, increasing numbers of Hispanic people have found year round work and have settled permanently in our state and in our community. Although the majority of Hispanics in the United States and Alaska are either recent immigrants from Mexico or are Mexican-Americans, it’s important to remember that Hispanic communities across the country and in our state include individuals and families from Central and South America, the Caribbean and Southwestern United States.

It’s no secret that the legal and illegal immigration of millions of Hispanics to the United States in the past three decades has aroused great controversy. But we must not forget that the goal of many immigrants is survival. This Christmas time we recall that Joseph took Mary and the child Jesus from Bethlehem into Egypt after Herod had sought to destroy the child (Mt. 2:13). While it is urgent for our nation to find a just and compassionate way to reform our immigration system, we should remember that these new immigrants, like the Holy Family who migrated to Egypt seeking shelter, safety and work, come in search of employment and a better life for their families. Many are seeking to escape from abject poverty, unemployment or, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, from the threat of violence.

Within the Catechism of the Catholic Church we are taught that our society has a duty to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person, especially within a prosperous nation like the US. At the same time, for the sake of the common good, our government has a duty to secure it’s border and enforce the law. Nations have the right to enforce their just laws and all persons must respect the legitimate exercise of this right (CCC 2241).

With all this in mind, the Hispanic community as a whole brings to our society great gifts: a devotion to family, a strong work ethic and a richness of culture and faith. Each December 12th a celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe marks the beginning of evangelization of the people of Mexico and the continued celebration of this feast helps strengthen the faith. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her message of hope and consolation led the native and mestizo peoples of Mexico to the Christian faith. Since the 16th century, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has spread throughout the entire Spanish-speaking Catholic world, as well as to the Philippines, Europe and the United States.

In celebrating this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I am grateful for the contribution of the Hispanic people to our region and our nation. During the Christmas season, I am reminded of the difficult journey so many Hispanic immigrants have made coming to this country. We remember not only the birth of Jesus but also how Joseph and Mary sought to protect their infant son by leaving their homeland and settling in a foreign land in search of safety and a better life. Today is no different. Lke the Holy Family, new immigrants are trying to do what is best for their family.

LETTER OF THE HISPANIC/LATINO BISHOPS TO IMMIGRANTS

FINAL CARTA A IMIGRANTES ESPANOL

LETTER OF THE HISPANIC/LATINO BISHOPS TO IMMIGRANTS

Dear immigrant sisters and brothers,

May the peace and grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you!

We the undersigned Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States wish to let those of you who lack proper authorization to live and work in our country know that you are not alone, or forgotten. We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity. We open our arms and hearts to you, and we receive you as members of our Catholic family. As pastors, we direct these words to you from the depths of our heart.

In a very special way we want to thank you for the Christian values you manifest to us with your lives—your sacrifice for the well-being of your families, your determination and perseverance, your joy of life, your profound faith and fidelity despite your insecurity and many difficulties. You contribute much to the welfare of our nation in the economic, cultural and spiritual arenas.

The economic crisis has had an impact on the entire U.S. community. Regretfully, some in reaction to this environment of uncertainty show disdain for immigrants and even blame them for the crisis. We will not find a solution to our problems by sowing hatred. We will find the solution by sowing a sense of solidarity among all workers and co-workers —immigrants and citizens—who live together in the United States.

In your suffering faces we see the true face of Jesus Christ. We are well aware of the great sacrifice you make for your families’ well-being. Many of you perform the most difficult jobs and receive miserable salaries and no health insurance or social security. Despite your contributions to the well-being of our country, instead of receiving our thanks, you are often treated as criminals because you have violated current immigration laws.

We are also very aware of the pain suffered by those families who have experienced the deportation of one of their members. We are conscious of the frustration of youth and young adults who have grown up in this country and whose dreams are shattered because they lack legal immigration status. We also know of the anxiety of those whose application process for permanent residency is close to completion and of the anguish of those who live daily under the threat of deportation.  This situation cries out to God for a worthy and humane solution.

We acknowledge that, at times, actions taken in regard to immigrants have made you feel ignored or abandoned, especially when no objection is raised to the false impressions that are promoted within our society. Through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops we have testified before the U.S. Congress for change in our immigration laws and for legislation that respects family unity and provides an orderly and reasonable process for unauthorized persons to attain citizenship.  The new law should include a program for worker visas that respects the immigrants’ human rights, provides for their basic needs and ensures that they enter our country and work in a safe and orderly manner.  We will also continue to advocate on behalf of global economic justice, so that our brothers and sisters can find employment opportunities in their countries of origin that offer a living wage, and allow them to live with dignity.

Immigrants are a revitalizing force for our country. The lack of a just, humane and effective reform of immigration laws negatively affects the common good of the entire United States.

It pains and saddens us that many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have not supported our petitions for changes in the immigration law that will protect your basic rights while you contribute your hard work to our country. We promise to keep working to bring about this change.  We know how difficult the journey is to reach the border and to enter the United States.  That is why we are committed to do all that we can to bring about a change in the immigration law, so that you can enter and remain here legally and not feel compelled to undertake a dangerous journey in order to support and provide for your families.  As pastors concerned for your welfare, we ask you to consider seriously whether it is advisable to undertake the journey here until after just and humane changes occur in our immigration laws.

Nevertheless, we are not going to wait until the law changes to welcome you who are already here into our churches, for as St. Paul tells us, “You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow-citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household” (Eph 2:19).

As members of the Body of Christ which is the Church, we offer you spiritual nourishment. Feel welcome to Holy Mass, the Eucharist, which nourishes us with the word and the body and blood of Jesus. We offer you catechetical programs for your children and those religious education programs that our diocesan resources allow us to put at your disposal.

We who are citizens and permanent residents of this country cannot forget that almost all of us, we or our ancestors, have come from other lands and together with immigrants from various nations and cultures, have formed a new nation. Now we ought to open our hearts and arms to the recently arrived, just as Jesus asks us to do when he says, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was an alien and you took me into your house” (Mt 25:35).   These words of the Lord Jesus can be applied to the new immigrants among us. They were hungry in their land of origin; they were thirsty as they traveled through the deserts, and they find themselves among us as aliens. (See Daniel G. Groody, CSC, “Crossing the Line,” in The Way, Vol. 43,, No. 2, April 2004, p. 58-69). Their presence challenges us to be more courageous in denouncing the injustices they suffer. In imitation of Jesus and the great prophets we ought to denounce the forces that oppress them and announce the good news of the Kingdom with our works of charity.  Let us pray and struggle to make it possible for these brothers and sisters of ours to have the same opportunities from which we have benefitted.

We see Jesus the pilgrim in you migrants. The Word of God migrated from heaven to earth in order to become man and save humanity. Jesus emigrated with Mary and Joseph to Egypt, as a refugee.  He migrated from Galilee to Jerusalem for the sacrifice of the cross, and finally he emigrated from death to life in the resurrection and ascension to heaven. Today, he continues to journey and accompany all migrants on pilgrimage throughout the world in search of food, work, dignity, security and opportunities for the welfare of their families.

You reveal to us the supreme reality of life: we are all migrants. Your migration gives a strong and clear message that we are migrants on the way to eternal life. Jesus accompanies all Christians on our journey toward the house of our Father, God’s Kingdom in heaven. (See Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, No. 50.)

We urge you not to despair. Keep faith in Jesus the migrant who continues to walk beside you. Have faith in Our Lady of Guadalupe who constantly repeats to us the words she spoke to St. Juan Diego, “Am I, who am your mother, not here?” She never abandons us, nor does St. Joseph who protects us as he did the Holy Family during their emigration to Egypt.

As pastors we want to continue to do advocacy for all immigrants. With St. Paul we say to you: “Do not be mastered by evil; but master evil with good.” (Rm 12:21).

May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, accompany you and bless you always.

Sincerely in Christ our Savior,

The Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States

Most Rev. José H. Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles

Most Rev. Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of San Antonio

Most Rev. Gerald R. Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino
Most Rev. Alvaro Corrada del Rio, SJ, Apostolic Administrator of Tyler
Bishop of Mayaguez, PR

Most Rev. Felipe de Jesús Estevez, Bishop of St. Augustine

 Most Rev. Richard J. García, Bishop of Monterey

 Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa, Apostolic Administrator of El Paso
Bishop-designate of Fresno

Most Rev. Plácido Rodríguez, CMF, Bishop of Lubbock

Most Rev. James A. Tamayo, Bishop of Laredo

 Most Rev. Raymundo J. Peña, Bishop Emeritus of Brownsville

 Most Rev. Arthur Tafoya, Bishop Emeritus of Pueblo

 Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of Brownsville

 Most Rev. Fernando Isern, D.D., Bishop of Pueblo

 Most Rev. Ricardo Ramírez, Bishop of Las Cruces

 Most Rev. Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento

 Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin

 Most Rev. Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ, Bishop Emeritus of Yakima

 Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, S.T.D., Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio

 Most Rev. Arturo Cepeda, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit

 Most Rev. Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

 Most Rev. Rutilio del Riego, Auxiliary Bishop of San Bernardino

 Most Rev. Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle

 Most Rev. Francisco González , S.F., Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC

 Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

 Most Rev. Alexander Salazar, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

 Most Rev. David Arias, OAR, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark

 Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn

 Most. Rev. Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

 Most Rev. Cirilo B. Flores, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange

 Most Rev. Josu Iriondo, Auxiliary Bishop of New York

Most Rev. Alberto Rojas, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago

 Most Rev. Luis Rafael Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

Most Rev. Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12, 2011