November 23, 2007

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Thank you, students, for your prayers and support

I received a packet of letters from sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Mary School in Aurora.

Their religion classes sent thank-yous and congratulations on the occasion of my 20th anniversary as bishop and 15th as archbishop.

I thought I would print some of these letters as a way to show my thanks for their good wishes and prayers as an observance of Thanksgiving Day.

As you readers know, I get a kick out of letters from grade school students. Perhaps the most delightful in this group was the following:

Dear Archbishop Daniel, Hi! I am 12 years old, and I love sports. My favorite sports are soccer, basketball, tennis, softball and volleyball. I have six cats and a dog. My dog’s name is Max. You probably don’t want to read my cats’ names. I have a 19-year-old sister. She is nice most of the time. I have been playing soccer for nine years, basketball for seven years, tennis, softball, and volleyball for one year.

Queeney is my house cat. My mom thinks she is an angel. I love my animals so much. Thank you for being the archbishop.

We are praying for you and hope that God will bless you in everything you do. Come visit us at St. Mary’s sometime. Sincerely, Danelle

Dear Danelle, I hope to visit your school sometime, maybe next spring. I appreciate your prayers and good wishes and those of your classmates.

Dear Archbishop … Congratulations on being our Archbishop for 15 years. You have done a great job of finding priests in our shortage. We have been praying for you in class. We hope that you can stay healthy, and can continue your work here. Sincerely, Sean

Dear Sean, thank you for your kind words and good wishes. I am happy that you recognize our shortage of priests. And I appreciate your prayers for vocations in your school. Maybe you could become a priest.

Dear Archbishop Daniel, I found out in church that you have been our archbishop for 15 years. We appreciate your devotion and service to the Church. A lot of people pray for you. You have a hard job to do. I’ll keep praying for you, too. We always pray for good vocations at St. Mary’s. In school, our teachers tell us to think about becoming priests, brothers and sisters. Thank you for answering God’s call. God be with you. Sincerely, Adam

Dear Adam, God be with you, too. I am happy to hear your teachers invite you to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. You mention that my job is hard. I appreciate that, but I want to tell you that being a priest or a bishop is also a great blessing. I am happy God called me to do what I do. When God calls, he gives us the grace, the help, to do what he wills. There is a lot of peace in that.

Dear Archbishop … When you were growing up did you ever think about being a priest? Did you go to a Catholic school? Sincerely, May

Dear May, in fact it was at St. Joseph School in Jasper, Ind., that I first thought of becoming a priest. All along the way I had good support from my family and from my teachers and priests.

Dear Archbishop, I wrote this letter to congratulate you and to say I thought it was cool that you were a Benedictine monk from St. Meinrad. We all appreciate your devotion and dedication along with other stuff you did for the Church. Well, I have to go … Sincerely, Morgan

Dear Morgan, being a Benedictine monk from Saint Meinrad has been an important part of my vocational journey. Thank you for recognizing that it was “cool.”

Dear Archbishop … When exactly did you feel like you were being called to be a priest? I would like to tell you that our school is alive and working. Every day we pray in religion class. I also would like to thank you for your actions and service in the Archdiocese. I will pray for you as you are entering your 16th year as Archbishop of Indianapolis. God bless you. Sincerely, Luke

Dear Luke, I first thought about being a priest at your age. Then as I was going through spiritual formation in the seminary, I became more and more certain. I had the help of priests and seminarian friends to say yes to God. I am so glad that I did.

It is encouraging to hear you say your school is alive and that you pray in religion class. I believe it! Thanks for your prayers and those of your classmates. They mean a lot. I pray for you, too. †

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