Dear Friends in Christ,

In September, our Grace Happens newsletter always remind me of those back-to-school notes we got when our son Evan was little – yep, the fall has begun, here is what's going on, please think about the following. I'm always pleased to see and hear about what is going on in our parishes, and I want us to be reminded again of why we're doing what we're doing. 

People need mercy. 

They may not know they need it, or think they don't deserve it, or have given up on finding it. They may have argued themselves out of asking for it, or have escaped the offer of it by blaming others for everything wrong in their life, even though at least one finger is squarely pointed at them. Or they may simply have blocked out their need by plugging into any of the various alternative universes that are so easily available to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Maybe some of this even describes us, on some days. But, thankfully, God has broken through all these defenses through the Mercy Made Flesh, His Son Jesus. 

I ask us all to take in this gift, once again, as if for the first time: to claim the beauty of His Incarnation, the efficacy of His Cross, and the power of His Resurrection. He is the answer to any despair, any meaninglessness, any burden, any need, in the lives of those around us.

Please, please, let us not wait for people to stumble over our thresholds to discover this mercy. Please let us go out and find them, listen to their stories, ask them what they need, then help them meet that need. As we do so, the mercy of God will become manifest. We will be able to extend an invitation to folks to taste more deeply of it in our own communities and congregations, and we will learn it more deeply ourselves. 

So, welcome back to school — the school of love. May this year in the Diocese of Pittsburgh be a year full of grace for us and for those around us. May God use you mightily to proclaim in word and deed the joy of knowing the mercy of Jesus. I could not be happier than to share in this work with you, here, now.

Faithfully your bishop,