Before more time goes by I want just to share a word with you about the Diocesan Pastoral Council which had its first of four meetings this year last Saturday.  The DPC consists of lay men and women from the parishes of our diocese, nominated one from each of the 14 deaneries.  In addition there are some religious men and women and I appoint a few to make sure that the face of the diocese is well represented.  They meet to discuss pastoral issues of our diocese and to be a consultative body for me as Bishop to hear in a regular fashion some of the issues as seen from the local parish perspective. 

They are invaluable.  I look forward to these meetings.  Last Saturday I asked Allison O’Brien, who heads up  our diocesan Respect Life Office, to give an overview of all that is going on in that crucial area of the Church’s life, work and witness.  She hit a home run.  So many extraordinary initiatives are contributing in so many ways to protecting and improving the life and dignity of children, born and unborn; mothers and those seeking to be mothers; the elderly, those with special needs or with life-threatening challenges.  All the members of the DPC were deeply impressed.  As we went around the table to hear comments on these and any other pastoral issue they wished me to know about, I was again struck by how richly blessed this diocese is by all of you whose faith is lived day by day, and whose gifts from the Holy Spirit are used to witness Christ and to bring him to others by your words, deeds and example.