As I’ve been praying for the upcoming Synodal Assembly, which will be held in Rome Oct. 4–22 as part of the three-year Synod on Synodality called by Pope Francis, I find myself reflecting on the diversity and vitality of the Church in America.
Everywhere I look, I see the Church alive, youthful, living from her love for Jesus Christ and engaged in the beautiful work of calling people to follow him and promoting his vision for the dignity of the human person.
In Los Angeles, all summer our diocesan offices and local churches have been working with city leaders and community groups to welcome asylum-seekers being bused here from the Texas border.
It is a reminder that across this country, Catholics can be found on the frontlines of serving the poor — providing food, clothing, shelter, and other assistance.
Catholic Charities agencies do much of this work, with the help of a network of dedicated volunteers. But there are also many other independent groups and religious orders.
In Los Angeles we are blessed to have such orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, the Lovers of the Holy Cross and the Friars and Sisters of the Poor Jesus Christ, among so many who are serving the poorest among us.
Here in Los Angeles and nationwide, Catholics are also working for policy solutions and cultural changes that promote human dignity and social justice.
There are Catholics making important contributions to discussions about how to make public policy more supportive for married couples and families. There are Catholics doing creative work to spread the Church’s profound teaching on the beauty of sexuality in God’s plan.
So many individuals and smaller apostolates are making bold strides in proclaiming the Church’s vision for the human person, not only in areas like foster care and adoption, but also in areas such as criminal justice reform, affordable housing, immigration reform, and improving wages and conditions for workers.
I am also encouraged by Catholic leadership in a number of initiatives that are promising new ways of thinking about our health care system, especially as it relates to vulnerable women and children.
The energy and life in the American Church flow from the strength and diversity of the laity and so many apostolates, which complement the good work of parishes, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and so many other Church institutions.
In the American Church we truly see the flowering of the Second Vatican Council’s vision of the universal call to holiness and the duty of baptized Christians to be disciples, using their talents to bring the Church’s teachings into every area of our society and culture.
Recently, I had the blessing to spend time with members of two apostolates that I helped to found years ago.
The first is Endow, which empowers women to live out their authentic vocation in the Church, what St. John Paul II called “the feminine genius.”
The other is the Catholic Association for Latino Leadership, which equips Hispanics to bring their faith and heritage to bear in business and in their civic affairs.
I am gratified to see these apostolates now well established in dioceses across the country. It is another reflection of the evangelical zeal in the American Church.
There is so much more that we could point to — the faithfulness of America’s bishops, the dedication of our priests, the quality of the men in our seminaries, the flourishing of Catholic education at all levels, the many Catholic media outlets and publishing houses.
We could also hold up the example of the many religious education programs and apostolates that are working to help young people grow in their love for Jesus and their knowledge of the faith. We are also making great strides in this country to fulfill Vatican II’s call for biblical renewal, so that our people are enlightened and strengthened by the word of God.
Pope Francis has encouraged us to lift up the contributions of women in the Church. And it is amazing how many of America’s most accomplished and influential Catholics are laywomen, and how many women are thought leaders in the American Church.
The faith is being lived in our homes and parishes. I am inspired every day by the young men and women who are living their love for Jesus in a difficult culture, who are committed to growing in holiness, to raising strong families, and to glorifying God by the lives they lead.
When I think of Pope Francis’ vision for synodality, these are the things I think of. And I find so much to be hopeful for! We are preparing for a new springtime of evangelization.
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
And let us ask holy Mary, our Blessed Mother, to keep us always faithful to her Son, and always courageous in speaking of his love.