Since arriving in the Archdiocese in February 2011 I have gained a passing acquaintance with most of the parish communities of the Archdiocese. I still have much to learn. My appreciation of the rich history and vitality of the Church in Oklahoma continues to deepen. Though we constitute a relatively small minority of the overall population of the State we have had a great impact in many areas that affect the common good including education, health care and social services.
The Catholic Church has been a beacon of truth and a leaven for good in society and in our communities.
Scanning the environment in which we Oklahoma Catholics live today reveals many important and noteworthy trends.
—We are living during a period of rapid cultural and social change. This is being driven in part by a globalized economy and facilitated by new digital technology and social media.
—We are ethnically diverse and the growing edge of our Catholic population in Oklahoma comes from a rapidly increasing Hispanic presence.
—We are being challenged by an increasingly hostile secular spirit that poses threats to fundamental freedoms such as religious liberty and the right to life.
—While the overall economic outlook for much of our area looks bright, many in our midst continue to live in poverty and in the shadows where they are vulnerable to exploitation.
—Many of these factors, and others beside, contribute to a weakening of marriage and traditional family structures, which in turn undermines our ability to hand on the faith effectively.
Recognition of these new realities has led our recent popes to call for a New Evangelization. We have to find new methods and means of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ so that it responds to the real questions and deepest needs of people today.
As I gain an appreciation for our rich Catholic heritage in Oklahoma I am also looking to the future. Faithful to this past, what is the Lord asking of us today? Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church in Oklahoma as we embrace the challenges and opportunities of a New Evangelization?
In order to answer these questions I have begun a process to develop a Mutually Shared Vision and establish key pastoral priorities for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. This will articulate the vision that will focus our energies over the course of the next few years. I have formed a team to assist me with this important endeavor. I need your help. Neither I nor this team can develop this Mutually Shared Vision without you.
Here's how you can help. Beginning in September and continuing through November there will be a series of listening sessions in various parishes strategically located throughout the Archdiocese. When you hear that I am coming for a listening session at a parish near yours I hope you will make time to come so that I can hear from you. Your input will be very important in developing a clear vision and the handful of priorities that will become the focus of our energies for the next few years.
You will be hearing more about this in the weeks and months ahead. But I wanted you to hear it first from me. I will be coming to a parish near yours. I hope I will have a chance to hear from you.