Bishop Kulick Reflects on Donum Veritatis: The Gift of Truth

In releasing his Pastoral Letter, Donum Veritatis: The Gift of Truth, Bishop Larry J. Kulick has placed the Diocese of Greensburg under the protection and guardianship of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

Throughout history, St. Joseph has been given many patronages — he is the patron saint of fathers and the family, a happy death, immigrants, and workers, among many others.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “the power given to St. Joseph is unlimited: It extends to all our needs, and all those who invoke him with confidence are sure to be heard.”

“I humbly look to St. Joseph as the model and guide for how I serve the faithful and lead our Diocese,” Bishop Kulick wrote in the Pastoral Letter.

During the Synod on Synodality listening sessions across the Diocese, Bishop Kulick heard a major concern from the faithful: Many parents and grandparents are worried about their children and grandchildren not attending Mass or receiving the sacraments.

Since those listening sessions and during his travels around the Diocese, Bishop Kulick has noticed more young families attending Mass. It is his hope that in placing St. Joseph as the protector and guardian of the local and domestic Church, the Diocese can be responsive to the needs of young families with innovative outreach.

“Faith formation and Catholic education that establish strong moral leaders is a major priority of my episcopacy,” Bishop Kulick wrote. “To take a more proactive and direct role in the faith formation efforts of our youth and families, after consultation with our clergy, I am establishing Regional Directors of Faith and Discipleship.

“These leaders will enable all parishes to begin the process of developing programs that meet the current formation needs of our families, most especially our youth,” wrote Bishop Kulick, who believes that if the faithful work together, the narrative of shrinking numbers of participants in the life of the Church can change.

Bishop Kulick also believes that as a Diocese, we can learn from St. Joseph’s example of fatherhood to emulate the love and support he offered to the Holy Family in answering God’s call to vocations, whether it is for the priesthood, diaconate, women religious, a committed single life or marriage.

“The marriage of Mary and Joseph serves as a perfect model of how to guard, reveal and communicate love, and will provide our guide as we strive to enrich our own with marriage catechumenate.” Bishop Kulick wrote in announcing that the office of Faith, Family and Discipleship will form a marriage catechumenate, which will work with young couples before their weddings and through their first years of marriage and parenting.

“In this way, the Church can support young families through the unique challenges of marriage, in difficult times, and with encouragement to invest in their marriage and family. In doing this, we can demonstrate our Christian belief that marriage was established by God as a path to holiness and a way of life that brings dignity to the human person.

“We will also continue to advocate the Church’s teaching on marriage between one man and one woman for the whole of life as a sacramental expression of God’s love and Christ’s relationship with the Church.”

Christian anthropology considers who and what the human person is, based on God’s revelation in His word and through our bodies. Indeed, our bodies are a revelation from God, and by and through it He teaches us. Through this divine teaching, we understand the full dignity of the human person. As part of his letter, Bishop Kulick asks St. Joseph to be the protector and guardian of our Christian anthropology.

“We must remember that our body is a gift, but ultimately, does not belong to us,” Bishop Kulick wrote, noting that God did not give these attributes to any other of His creations, including angels. “We are the union of the two and must value both. Although we can distinguish body and soul intellectually, they unite to make us one being.

“It is much like the flame from a candle. Although one can distinguish the light of the flame from its heat, one cannot put the heat over here and the light over there. They are so together as to be one. It is like this with our body and soul, and therefore, both our body and soul are important to our identity. Limiting our identity solely to our ‘thoughts and feelings’ discounts our body as God’s creation, while limiting ourselves to only our body as a ‘collection of chemicals and interactions between them’ denies our soul free will and our ability to decide right from wrong.” 

Bishop Kulick wrote that we must recognize the importance of the human soul as our animating principle that guides our choices and our free will.

Also in his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Kulick asks us to recognize St. Joseph as the patron of a happy death because both Jesus and the Blessed Mother were present at his side at the time of his death. Bishop Kulick points out that many families are choosing not to have a funeral Mass or even prayers for their parents, grandparents or loved ones out of convenience or immediacy, forgoing the importance of the dignity of the body while living and after the soul has returned to God. Oftentimes, families choose cremation, which is permitted but should take place after a funeral Mass, and then the cremated remains should be buried or entombed in a mausoleum.

“I am calling on the faithful to return to the roots of spiritual dignity of the body at the time of the death of a loved one and make the Mass of Christian Funerals a central practice of the funeral rite,” he wrote. “Let us honor our deceased with the Holy Mass, to which they have a right by their baptism. It is through this Rite of Christian Funerals with its three stations that we have the assurance of the proper commendation of the soul of the deceased to the mercy of God and pray for the repose of their soul.”

Bishop Kulick encourages parishes to have active bereavement ministries to assist in the funeral liturgy for the deceased and to comfort those mourning.

St. Joseph is also the patron saint of workers, teaching Jesus the value of hard work and serving as an example for all of us in our daily vocations. To ensure the economic future for the region that encompasses the Diocese, Bishop Kulick will take an active role in working with community partners to keep our region vibrant and to provide employment opportunities.

St. Joseph is the protector and guardian of immigrants. He took his family to Egypt, risking their lives, to avoid persecution. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminded us that St. Joseph is a special patron of those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.

In his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Kulick points to the region’s deep roots in the Ukrainian Catholic Church and refugees from Ukraine, who have traveled to western Pennsylvania seeking a future, while not diminishing the intention to provide for all refugees with the proper documentation.

“The Diocese of Greensburg has embraced arriving Ukrainian newcomers through the efforts of Catholic Charities, the Office of Communications and Evangelization, and other Diocesan offices,” he wrote. “These efforts demonstrate that when we welcome immigrants who follow the legal process and we work with business and community leaders to find meaningful opportunities and proper housing, the entire region and the Church can positively grow from their presence in our local community.”

As the first and foremost loving disciple of his foster son, St. Joseph served as the original caretaker of our Eucharistic Lord. Their home was the first Eucharistic adoration chapel.

St. Joseph was a quiet witness of our Lord. To increase our devotion, Bishop Kulick is encouraging every parish to provide opportunities for Eucharistic adoration over the next three years.

“I have requested that our Office of Faith, Family and Discipleship coordinate evenings of reflection quarterly in each Deanery for men and women that include a speaker and time for group discussion, Eucharistic adoration, and the sacrament of reconciliation to promote discipleship throughout the Diocese,” Bishop Kulick wrote. “In addition, I intend to reinstitute the practice of the Forty Hours Devotion in each of our seven Deaneries. I have asked the Office of Faith, Family and Discipleship in consultation with the Men’s and Women’s Ministries of the Diocese to prepare resources for these gatherings.”

Bishop Kulick hopes the intercession of St. Joseph will lead the faithful to their own personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

“May St. Joseph model for us the Truth of Christ, who is love and mercy, so that we may joyfully share Him with one another,” Bishop Kulick wrote.

To read Bishop Kulick’s Pastoral Letter, Donum Veritatis: The Gift of Truth, click here.


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