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Celebrating Catholic Dioceses

June 13, 2016

A Letter from Fr. Sands

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing this article looking out of my office window upon a streetscape of trees with their full complement of leaves and of flower beds that are overflowing with varied and vibrant colors. Spring is the season for nature to reawaken and seemingly the whole world pulsates with new life. For Catholics, spring is the season for First Communions, Confirmations, ordinations, weddings and graduations. So I offer my heartfelt words of congratulations to everyone who is celebrating a sacrament or some other important achievement or milestone at this time.

Since 1884 to the present day the Black and Indian Mission Office has been a dedicated companion with the many priests, religious and lay people in Native American and African American communities. I consider myself to be very blessed to have the privilege and opportunity to continue the excellent and dedicated and ground-breaking work of the seven previous Executive Directors. As I am writing this article, I would like to take the opportunity to offer a special work of thanks to my two most recent predecessors, Fr. Wayne Paysse and Msgr. Paul Lenz. They have both been very kind and generous friends to me and I am humbled to be the one to immediately follow in their footsteps.

In the next few issues of The Sentinel I would like to share with all of you some of the highlights of the terms of office in which Msgr. Lenz and Fr. Paysse served as the Executive Directors of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions. We will begin with the ministry of Msgr. Paul Lenz, who served as the sixth Executive Director from 1976 to 2007. An excellent and comprehensive article on Msgr. Lenz was written by Mr. Kevin Abing for Marquette University in 1994. The first half of this article is included in this issue of The Sentinel. The second half of the article will be presented in the next issue of the Sentinel.

The other focus of this issue of the Sentinel is on the many (arch)dioceses who receive grants for Native American ministry offices and schools and religious education programs. In this past year, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Mission has awarded more than $2.5 million to Native American Ministry programs in dioceses throughout the country. The funds that are awarded to these (arch)dioceses are distributed from the proceeds of the annual National Black and Indian Mission Collection. Many individual Catholics, consecrated and lay, generously contribute to this national collection year in and year out. On my own behalf and on behalf of all of the beneficiaries of the (arch)diocesan grants, I offer a profound and heartfelt word of thanks to all of our generous benefactors.

I conclude this article with the following short prayer of thanks:

For all You have given, Thank You God.
For all You have withheld, Thank You God.
For all You have withdrawn, Thank You God.
For all You have permitted, Thank You God.
For all You have prevented, Thank You God.
For all You have forgiven me, Thank You God.
For all You have prepared for me, Thank You God.
For the death You have chosen for me, Thank you God.
For the place you are keeping for me in heaven, Thank You God.
For having created me to love You for eternity, Thank You God.

Yours in Christ our Lord,

Fr. Henry Sands

This reflection was originally published in The Sentinel. To sign up for the The Sentinel, or to see electronic versions, click here.