Put Out into the Deep

Giving Thanks for What We Have

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As we approach this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, it is always good to count our blessings in anticipation of this day in which we give thanks not only for the harvest, as was in its origins, but also for the many gifts that life brings to us.

This year, as I celebrate 10 years as Bishop of Brooklyn, I can consider the many blessings that have come during this time of servant leadership. Truly, I have sought to serve the people, clergy and religious of Brooklyn and Queens to the best of my ability. As I look back on these past 10 years, I am confident that much has been accomplished, although it did not seem to be so extensive as the years went on. Being able to lead is truly a blessing. However, leadership has its built-in problems. No leader can make everyone happy, nor can a leader claim that he never has made a mistake or solved all of the problems that were under his responsibility. I can truly say that this has been the case in the past 10 years. Many things have been accomplished, and much more needs to be done in order that we continue to work in the New Evangelization.

Ever since the first day I came to the Diocese of Brooklyn – even at the Mass of Installation – I spoke about the New Evangelization. In the regional Masses in the first several months, my homily was based on the Gospel of Luke where Jesus asks His disciples to put out into the deep, to keep fishing since at His command a great catch of fish would result. I am sure that after the miraculous catch of fish, the Apostles were thankful for the economic benefit, at least, that they had come by. However, they were even more thankful that they recognized the leadership of Jesus to be productive, something that inspired them.

Today, leadership in our world is not easy to exercise. This is especially difficult when leadership represents any kind of authority. Our culture today has made it difficult to lead when everyone expects that “their leader” will do everything that they want him to do. To be a leader is not to please everyone, and giving thanksgiving for accomplishments made possible by leadership and cooperation is perhaps one of the things that I will be happy for at this Thanksgiving.

Every Thanksgiving, we are given an opportunity to show our thankfulness for what the Lord has given to us by sharing what we have with others. The annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is taken up this Sunday. This year, the CCHD collection is celebrating almost 45 years of accomplishment. Our own Bishop Francis J. Mugavero was one of the founding members of the CCHD at the U.S. Bishops Conference, setting up an organization by which the Catholic Church could help grassroots organizations to effect social change for the betterment of others, especially the poor.

In our own Diocese this year, CCHD has awarded $155,000 to four member-led self-help organizations that encourage independence, transforming our communities and their efforts towards justice. This amount is greater than what the Diocese contributed last year to the CCHD, as the great need in our own Diocese allows us to receive more than what we give. Also, last year CCHD provided special Hurricane Sandy relief funds through a collaborative effort by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Catholic Migration Services to reach out to the poor and marginalized who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, allowing immigrants who did not know how to obtain services to seek out what they needed.

Pope Francis has led us out into the deep as he called for a Church that would be especially attentive to the needs of the poor. Thanksgiving is a time when we are called to share what we have with others. As we give thanks to God’s goodness to ourselves, let us remember those who are less fortunate.

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