A Reason for the Season: The Star’s Still Shining

As the Diocese of Brooklyn celebrates its second Christmas under COVID-19 protocols, there is a palpable sense of optimism among the faithful.

The spirit of birth and rebirth remains strong in parishes and communities across the area as Catholics witness — and commit — countless acts of selflessness that deserve our attention.

Do you see what we see?

We here at The Tablet have reported on another year of turmoil, pain, and anxiety, but also a year when Catholics are pushing back and moving forward together with energy-shots of joy.

Here’s a partial tally of recent “Good News” for all people of good will:

Standing-room-only assemblies, while maintaining safety protocols,  have come to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, first to celebrate the exciting installation of Bishop Brennan, then to venerate Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe in a renewed fiesta of cultural solidarity and hope to disburse across the Americas.

Thousands packed the streets in Williamsburg this summer for the previously postponed Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and San Paolino Di Nola. Other feasts and festivals also returned to strengthen communities.

The annual Bishop’s Luncheon, earlier this month, recorded its best attendance ever and raised more than $300,000 for Catholic school scholarships. Other events and initiatives highlighted the desire to give students in Brooklyn and Queens the best possible preparation in mind, heart, and soul. Activities included an opening gala concert in a new place of beauty, the Emmaus Center.

Speaking of Catholic schools, enrollment is up 20% in pre-K classes this school year, with an overall increase of 4% in grade schools and high schools. More parents are finding alternative education options for their children.

Heeding our local and global duties to the human family and God’s creation, our resources have included the diocesan Compostela Fund (which raised over $370,000 for Haiti relief and those affected in the diocese by Hurricane Ida), parish generosity, personal advocacy, and principled activism. Tragedies sparked much compassion. Think of Haiti and Kentucky, as well as the sidewalks of New York and elsewhere — reflecting the pandemic, the economy, the flooding of homes, waves of desperate migration and mindless violence, and mental illness and hateful marginalization.

Through it all, throngs have joined in many fundraising efforts. They include The Tablet’s own Bright Christmas campaign, which appears close to a goal that rose this year to $115,000.

These are the works of women and men, led by a Church that points us toward the Beatitudes and respects the dignity of every human person. Such efforts are a crucial part of the Christmas story.

People are starving for hope, truth, mercy, justice, and their daily bread. Many folks are coming back to church and finding nourishment, even strength.

This strength is inseparable from that little baby born in a manger. There is a God, and we’re not Him. Our works are important, but faith in Christ gets the job done.

Everything we have seen in 2021, the good and the bad, encourages us to read between the lines for an even more joyful message.