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Seek the Lord by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

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New Year’s is a time to both look back and look ahead.

The past year has been undeniably difficult for all Catholics. The faithful understandably have reacted with anger and frustration to the historic mishandling of child sexual abuse in the Church and the lack of accountability by some bishops. As we look back on 2018, we may also reflect on disappointments, mistakes, sins, and missed opportunities in our own lives, as well as abundant blessings.

At the same time, 2019 is an unopened book full of promise.

It may be tempting to wonder what can really change with the turning of a calendar page. The answer is that we can change! And by changing ourselves, we can change others through our witness.

With reference to the current crisis in the Church, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wisely wrote: “. . . our hope for true and deep reform ultimately lies in more than excellent systems, as essential as these are. It requires holiness: the deeply held conviction of the truths of the Gospel, and the eager readiness to be transformed by those truths in all aspects of life.”

In a similar way, changing our country’s deplorable anti-life laws is imperative but insufficient. Changing hearts, not just laws, is the way to build a culture of life. The March for Life in Washington each year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is an important witness. I have participated many times. However, it is not the only way to witness to our respect for life.

The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade was Norma McCorvey. She was an abortion advocate for two decades, and even worked in an abortion clinic in Dallas. Then in 1995 a pro-life organization moved into an office next door. Within months, Norma left the abortion industry and a few years later was received into the Catholic Church.

What happened? It is significant that Norma McCorvey called the story of her conversion journey Won by Love. In a supplement to the book, she wrote, “There is not a day that I do not thank God for the men and women who, by their personal contact with me or simply by their prayers, have helped me on my journey.”

Pro-life advocates, pregnancy center workers, and Project Rachel volunteers throughout the Archdiocese change hearts each day. Their loving and patient witness is building a culture of life person by person. For that I am very grateful.

As we prepare to celebrate Catholic Schools Week nationally Jan. 27-Feb. 2, I am also grateful for the thousands of teachers, principals, staff, volunteers, and parents who unselfishly share their gifts and talents with our young people. The theme of our celebration this year is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” Catholic school professionals and volunteers model all of these behaviors for students, teaching what matters most not just with lesson plans but by Christian example.

In this new year, let us pray for a renewal of our own faith, hope, and love so that we can more effectively be the light of the world that Christ calls us to be (Matthew 5:14).

Perhaps the best blessing I can give you to begin this new year is from the first reading for Jan. 1, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (Numbers 6:24-26):

The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look kindly on you and give you peace!

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