The Year That Was

The 2,012th year of the Common Era draws to a close as editorialists dutifully rise (or fall) to the urge to become chronologers and critics of all that transpired therein.

Readers and writers of Catholic news services are not removed from that world, even if we strive to be not of it. If granted the courtesy of a pardon for a reflective indulgence, we might even begin with a proposal for “Person of the Year.” Our nominee would have to be Hurricane Sandy. For the scope of the human impact — social, psychological, economic and emotional — this enormous “impersonal” force altered the lives of more people than any of us may yet comprehend.

We have learned, some personally, others anecdotally, the heartbreak and the heroics emerging from the tempest. Patience continues to be the most sought-after virtue as this is far from over. We applaud the response of so many from our diocesan administrative agencies to our parishes, both in and outside of the scourge. God bless everyone.

If good stewardship be our gospel compass — the image our Lord and Savior so often employed — then our gifts and challenges might be viewed, metaphorically, as the vehicle entrusted to us to drive. God makes the car and gives us the keys (“he saw that it was good”) and entrusts us to steer it safely and productively (“be fruitful and multiply”).

Analysts are still grappling with what “the Catholic vote” meant this year, there being a notable difference between the order of priorities cited by regular Sunday observers and those less regular. The U.S. bishops continuously waved road signs at us throughout the year warning of the erosion of our religious freedoms. Sad to say, the politics of many Catholics seem to have been as local as that of most other Americans, not quite ready to accept the logic that forcing taxpayers to pay for products and practices that are intrinsically evil is a big deal. We commend our bishops for keeping their eyes on the road.

We have begun a Year of Faith. Many parishes are already plowing their fields that the seeds of grace the Holy Spirit sows will take root and grow. The work of so many volunteer catechists and aides in our religious education and formation programs stands out as crucial for evangelization and re-evangelization, especially as we strive to enable families to assume their God-given role of being the prime nurturers of the seeds. That our schools, academies and religious education programs continue to stabilize and build a strong Catholic identity is our prayer and a true test of our stewardship.

The jury is still out on the new English rendering of the Roman Missal. Congregations appear to have adapted well enough, even as celebrants labor with longer sentences and Latinesque phrases. Is there a gift of untying tongues?

A new partnership has pooled the resources of the Archdiocese of New York and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre to continue the education and formation of our seminarians, clergy and laity in more coordinated, economical and accessible ways. For this we give thanks for those who steered it home.

As the three-year Strategic Planning Process now morphs into a phase in which all parishes will focus on ongoing Pastoral Planning, we are thankful for the good stewardship of the pastors who helped their congregations cope with major structural changes and the diocesan agencies — including the all-volunteer Strategic Planning Commission — which offered direction and assistance throughout.

Finally, our two new auxiliaries, Bishops Ray Chappetto and Paul Sanchez. Their outstanding example of priestly zeal and compassionate leadership are icons of the spirit of generous service that marks the people of our diocese — both lay and clergy — from our Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to the octogenarian (whatsername?) who opens the church doors every morning and throws on the lights.

God bless us all at Christmas and as the New Year begins!