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Easter Greetings from Bishop Bernard A. Hebda
Stay with us, Lord! (cf. Luke 24:29) With these words, the disciples on the road to Emmaus invited their mysterious fellow traveler to stay with them as the sun was setting on that first Easter Day. The words spoken by the unknown Wayfarer had made their hearts burn within them. It was only after he disappeared, however, that they came to recognize their companion on the journey as having been the Risen Christ. In my travels around Northern Lower Michigan in the four months that I have been Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, I have discovered that I too have occasionally shared the experience of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. My heart burned within me as I ordained Gerald Okoli to the diaconate and as I met with the young men participating in the St. Andrew Task Force Retreat. It burned within me as we witnessed the faith and zeal of so many of our youngest Catholics as we travelled from school to school during Catholic Schools Week, and as we sorted clothes at the Father Fred Foundation. I recognized that feeling again as so many of our homeschooling families gathered at the Cathedral for Mass, and then again as our newest participants in Cursillo shared their experiences of that retreat. Many of us spoke about that burning as we participated in our first Diocesan Youth Congress. And who could deny that burning as we gathered in parishes around the Diocese for our Vicariate Holy Hours or as we listened to the childrens choir at St. Ignatius in Rogers City sing their Benedictus? That burning in my heart tells me that Christ continues to make His presence known and felt in this community. He is Truly Risen! It is not surprising then that we would find ourselves this Easter joined with the disciples in praying Stay with us, Lord. We recognize that we need Him as we face a planet that quakes both literally and figuratively. Only He can bring joy into a world fractured by war, violence, political discord and rampant economic strife and uncertainty. Only He who died and rose can teach us the true meaning of the many challenges we face day in and day out. As we begin this Easter Season, let us commit to using these fifty days wisely to recognize the enduring and loving presence of the Risen Lord in our midst, even in the midst of difficulties, and to follow Him along the pathway that leads from the sorrow of Calvary to the joy of the empty tomb. May the joy and hope of the Easter season sustain you and your loved ones throughout the year.