In July, a group of clergy, a Sister and several lay leaders from our diocese joined me at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of The Gospel), this Convocation was a gathering of Catholic leaders for a strategic conversation focusing on forming missionary disciples to animate the Church and to engage the many cultures of the United States more effectively and with Gospel joy.
This gathering of Catholic leadership would be expected to include Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, priests, deacons and religious women and men. And so it did. But the Convocation also included an extraordinary group of lay leadership from around the country for an edifying experience of the whole Church fully alive!
This experience underscored and solidified a plan that was already in process, the creation of a new Diocesan office, the Office of Life and Justice. While we have had similar offices in the past, this new office will take on a different mission and tone. Fr. Craig Scott, Pastor of St. Rita Church and the newly appointed Dean of the Central Deanery has volunteered to spearhead the creation and coordination of the Office of Life and Justice.
This office will be run strictly by volunteers (who are missionary disciples!). The goal is not to “reinvent the wheel.” Rather, the intention of this new Office is to ensure a coordinated Diocesan effort in these areas of pastoral concern, and to offer appropriate support to our Pastors, lay leaders, parishes and schools.
The Office of Life and Justice will focus on three areas: Sanctity of Life; Ministry to the Poor and Marginalized; and Environmental, Cultural and Civic Concerns.
Fr. Scott’s first order of business has been in gathering a group of committed volunteers. He has reported that each of these three areas has a committed priest advisor, and a committed Lay chair, as well as an overall Chair for this office. He is currently reaching out to Pastors across the Diocese for recommendations, so that we can have representation from all four of our regions or deaneries (Natchitoches, the Eastern deanery, the Central deanery and the Avoyelles). Once the entire committee is established, I will hope to introduce the members through our communication media.
I know that many ministries and activities in these areas of concern are already at work in our Diocese, and have been for many years. And I thank God for the Clergy and Religious and lay leaders that have staffed these ministries of Christ the Lord.
The next order of business for the Office of Life and Justice will be to lift up these existing ministries and to seek input from these ministries into ways that the new Office of Life and Justice can be of support.
Pastors will soon receive a survey to better identify what ministries are active in their parish or mission. The Office of Life and Justice is in its infancy, but I know you will support Fr. Craig Scott and his committee as they hope to share the joy of the Gospel and in sharing this Good News, to transform the cultures of central Louisiana.
By our Baptism and through the grace of Confirmation and with the strength of Holy Eucharist…each of us is called to be a missionary disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, and an Ambassador of the Kingdom of our Father!
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(For The Greater Glory of God)