Pastor's Corner: A Season of Renewed Grace and Hope for All
Dear CSA Friends,
At the end of September, I had the great privilege of attending the V Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas. This was a gathering of almost 5,000 people from all around the country to talk about many topics related to Hispanic ministry, the Latino presence in the U.S. Catholic Church, what this means, and how God is moving and acting in the Church today.
There were several keynote addresses and many breakout sessions. One of the breakout sessions was “Latinos and Catholic Schools.” Sister John Mary Fleming, OP, (previously Director of the Office of Catholic Education for the USCCB) and I helped to organize this breakout session. Our wonderful panelists were Jo Jones, Principal of Corpus Christi School (Diocese of Grand Rapids), Christine Tax, Principal of St. Agnes School (Diocese of Phoenix), Toni Vaeth, Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools (Archdiocese of Denver), and Melodie Wyttenbach, Faculty for the Remick Leadership Program (Alliance for Catholic Education). They did a wonderful job presenting and the participants were all very engaged.
Not even ten years ago it would have been very difficult to find the words “Latinos” and “Catholic schools” in the same sentence. Thankfully, this has all changed. Now you can hear everyone from school principals to bishops, and from school board presidents to pastors talking about Latinos and Catholic schools. This is due, in large part, to all of you who are friends of ACE’s Catholic School Advantage. Many thanks to each one of you for taking part in ACE’s summer programs and institutes - the Latino Enrollment Institute, English as a New Language, Adelante, the School Pastors’ Institute, and more. Thanks to each one of you for all that you are doing to move the needle on this great opportunity facing the Church. That is, of making Catholic Schools available, affordable, and accessible to Latino children and families.
I send you this letter in the wonderful season of Advent. All human beings cherish hope. People in big cities pray daily for an end to violence on the streets. People everywhere long for an economy that gives them a fair share. The sick and the marginalized cry out for justice and for peace. Indeed, no matter how blessed we are, we always want and need more.
December is a season of hope not just in the Church; it is a privileged and much-loved time for expressing hope in public, for working to restore others’ hopes, for strengthening the dreams that carry us through the entire year. We can recognize even in the rush to the shopping malls a certain impetus, the urge of nature craving light, grace, gifts, and beauty. With all that we live through day in and day out, I believe that we will experience this season of hope in a much more profound way.
In the midst of the hopes and dreams of our society, the Church gives us the season of Advent as our way to express our dreams. The readings and songs that are part of the season of Advent, along with the hope of salvation, put us in touch with the most profound levels of human hope. Advent has the power to structure our dreams of transformation. In a sense we do what everyone does in December—we long for a better world, for more justice, for more peace, for more love. But Advent tells us that the answer to all our dreams, to all our hoping, to all our longing is in the coming of the Lord.
Let us pray together that this season of Advent will be a time of renewed grace and hope for all of us. May our hearts be renewed in Christ this Christmas.
All best wishes and God’s abundant blessings to you from Our Lady’s University.
Father Joe Corpora, C.S.C.