My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
First, I wish to offer thanks to Almighty God for the wonderful people of our diocese. I thank you for your love, prayers and support for the Church and for all the good that you do. I am truly inspired by your faith and generosity.
This year, our theme for the Bishop’s Appeal is taken from St. Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Being an ambassador for Christ you could say is a logical next step for us to take following the Year of Mercy. While the symbolic doors of mercy may have closed in Cathedrals around the world, our Holy Father, Pope Francis calls on us to become channels of God’s mercy, always open, extending the peace and love of Christ to all, especially those who are weak and vulnerable.
Every day throughout our diocese, faith filled individuals go out into their communities in the name of Jesus to love and to serve others in a variety of ways. Some minister to those who are homeless and hungry, to those who are ill or aging. There are teachers who nourish the minds and nurture the faith of our youth in Catholic schools and faith formation programs. There are men and women pursuing vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in service to the Lord and His people.
Yes, every single day people in our diocese go out and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel as ambassadors for our Lord Jesus Christ. The good things that are done in service to so many are made possible by the gifts you give each year to the Bishop’s Appeal.
I pray that you will be able to make a gift to the Bishop’s Appeal this year. If you have already done so, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I pray, dear sisters and brothers, that Almighty God will continue to bless and watch over you and your loved ones. I entrust our 2017 Bishop’s Appeal to the Divine Mercy of Jesus under the protection of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our diocese.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Edward B. Scharfenberger, D.D.
Bishop of Albany