I received a very interesting report by e-mail. Good things are happening in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Here is an open letter from the Archbp. of Santa Fe, H.E. Most Reverend, Michael J. Sheehan:
[Text of Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan’s letter in December 2007 People of God]
As your Shepherd, I greet you in the name of the Lord and wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas! Later this month we will celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the core teachings of Christianity is that God the Father sent his Son Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem for our salvation. Although Christmas has become highly commercialized in our secular western society, we must look through the tinsel, bright lights, and nicely wrapped presents to see what the season is all about: it is about Jesus Christ. It isn’t enough to celebrate His birthday. Rather, He wants us to follow His message and be active in the Church that He founded. If you want to honor the Christ Child, be the best Catholic that you can be! I pray for your families and loved ones at this holy season that God may give you many graces at Christmas and in the New Year.
By the time you and other faithful readers of the People of God see this column, we will have welcomed former Episcopalian Bishop Jeffrey Steenson and his wife, Debbie, into the Catholic Church at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. As you know from recent news accounts, Jeffrey was the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande which covers New Mexico and parts of west Texas. I have been in conversations with him for several years as he has sought the truth of the Catholic faith. I admire him for the sacrifices that he is making in entering the Catholic Church at this moment in his life. He is leaving the security of his present position with the trust in God that things will fall into place for him and his family. Msgr. Douglas Raun of St. Thomas Aquinas was also present in Rome since he had been the theological advisor for Jeffrey. Jeffrey will ask the Holy Father for the Pastoral Provision which would allow him to eventually be ordained a Catholic priest. The humble and sincere way that Jeffrey has made this decision and announce it to his own people has won respect and acclaim for his personal integrity and desire to be united to the Successor of St. Peter. We ask the Lord to bless him and his wife, Debbie, as they seek to follow God’s will in their lives.
In another noteworthy development, I share with you that I have appointed Rev. Carlos Conzales as Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community in Albuquerque. This is being done in accord with the Holy Father’s motu proprio loosening the restrictions on the celebration of the old Latin Mass. In November, I joined Fr. Carlos Gonzales and his community at Our Lady Queen of Peace on San Pedro in Albuquerque to announce my intention to regularize them and to bring them into full communion with the Catholic Church. Fr. Gonzales, who was ordained a priest by Archbishop Lefebvre before the Archbishop was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II, has gone to Rome and met with the authorities of the Ecclesia Dei Commission to receive approval to exercise his priestly ministry in union with Rome. The Latin Mass is at Our Lady Queen of Peace at 1420 San Pedro at 8:30 a.m. Fr. Gonzales will celebrate that Mass and then have the Tridentine Mass at noon on Sundays at San Ignacio. Catholics are welcome to attend either time, which gives another option for those who are drawn to the Tridentine Mass.
We welcome the Tridentine Community and ask God to bless Fr. Gonzales as he ministers to them. To be a good Catholic requires more than incense and Mass in Latin! It means union with the Successor of Peter and the Bishop whom he sends. I also take this occasion to invite back other Tridentine Catholics to union with Rome and the Bishop the Pope has sent to join the Tridentine Community. Let us pray that God will bring many graces to those involved!
Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,
+ Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop of Santa Fe
Archbp. Sheehan wrote about two examples of men willing to make sacrifices and give up positions and support for the sake of their desire for unity with the Successor of Peter.
I think it is important to remember that for the sake of unity, some people make great sacrifices. By "swiming the Tiber", they can lose everything they have, and put stress on their family ties. These folks deserve some recognition and support. I have always been impressed, for example, with the efforts of men like Marcus Grodi, whose Coming Home Network aims to help men who need some support when they give up so much to seek unity with Rome.