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If Jesus were the Bishop of Amarillo, what would He do?

A pastoral letter by Bishop John W. Yanta July 16, 2006 - Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if Jesus were the Bishop of Amarillo, how would he run the Diocese of Amarillo? What would Jesus try to teach us? Would Jesus be evangelizing the people of God? How? Doing what? Saying what?

Would Jesus be trying every means possible to call us to holiness? Would Jesus not only invite us to become his disciples but provide all the means of becoming disciples in every parish throughout the diocese? Would Jesus want every parish to be a school of holiness as Pope John Paul II taught us as a good goal for the new millennium?

Jesus is the Good Shepherd of his Church on earth - its pastor! Given the fact that Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, He still remains on earth with his Church as its head. Remember, Jesus wants 100% of the sheep to be in his flock and he wants all the sheep to receive 100% of his teachings! But Jesus has chosen to have some men and parents placed over certain sections of his Body, the Church.

The pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth by being a good shepherd of the Church Universal; the bishop as a successor of the apostles should try always to be a good shepherd of all the people of God of his diocese; the priest pastor (co-worker united with his bishop) is delegated to be a good shepherd for his parish which is "a family of families" (Pope John Paul II, San Antonio, TX, Sept. 13, 1987). The pope, bishop, and priests are anointed and sent by Jesus to care for his people.

Parents, living in Jesus with each other in marriage, are the shepherds of their children. The family is the domestic church; the family is the most important part of both the Church and the world. Parents share the awesome responsibility with the pope, their bishop, and their pastor. Each has a flock to feed and tend - under, with, and for the Good Shepherd, Jesus. Would that every child would be received as the greatest blessing of marriage! Jesus wills it! Would that every child could say that Mom and Dad are the first teachers of the Faith by what they do and what they say! Jesus wills it!

Would that every child would learn in infancy and childhood that our loving God has a plan for each of us how to live in this life and be happy with Him in the next! Jesus wills it! Would that every child would learn first and principally from his parents about God's sacred plan for our sexuality as male and female! Jesus wills it!

Natural Family Planning

As announced in my pastoral letter January 28, 2006: "The Diocese of Amarillo will be a natural family planning diocese: henceforth, all marriages (except for couples past the child bearing age) will be required to attend and complete an approved Natural Family Planning course in conjunction with an approved marriage preparation program. Effective date: July 25, 2006.

"July 25th is the date selected for implementation: July 25th is four (4) months after the Annunciation (March 25th) and five (5) months before the Nativity of Jesus. July 25th is also the feast of St. James, first bishop of Jerusalem.

"July 25th is also the 38th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (on artificial contraception) by Pope Paul VI. Copies of a simplified version by Msgr. Vincent Walsh are available from Key of David Publications, 204 Haverford Road, Wynnewood, PA 19006, 610-896-1970.

"Omnia parata" (All is ready) as Jesus said in the parable of the wedding feast. In all parts of the diocese we have teachers trained to give the Natural Family Planning instruction in both English and Spanish.

"I ask Almighty God to forgive me for waiting so long to implement Natural Family Planning as normative and as a requirement for a marriage to be witnessed by our priests and deacons in the Diocese of Amarillo.

"Every married couple has the right from the Church to continue on the road to sainthood begun in baptism by living as one joined to Christ: Natural Family Planning is God's way to live responsible parenthood. Marriage and family are the pillars of the Church and society".

Our Catholic Schools

Just a few days ago, Pope Benedict XVI at the Fifth World Gathering of Families in Spain called the family "a unique institution in God's plan." He further proclaimed: "I wish to set forth the central role, for the Church and for society, proper to the family based on marriage."

As school opens again soon, I ask you, what is Jesus' plan for our children's education? A relatively new phenomenon has emerged in our midst: home schools. They are a fulfillment of Jesus' plan that the father and mother are the first teachers of the ways of faith for their children.

However, if parents choose not to home school, Jesus would want them to attend a Catholic school. Catholic schools exist to help parents in their duty to form their children in the fullness of Christianity - our Catholic Faith. It is a given that our Catholic schools provide an education equal to the local school or superior to it, as the facts and data bear out.

Jesus wants us to recognize our Catholic schools as a great gift, an awesome ministry, and a stewardship we all support.

Our Catholic schools are supported by the tuition paid by students' parents and extended family, the fundraisers sponsored by parents and alumni, their parish and nearby parishes, the diocese, and foundations, e.g. Bill and Louise Dee, Kenedy in Corpus Christi, and Scanlan in Houston.

Partial scholarships are available. I, as bishop, have a policy that no child will be denied a Catholic School education because of financial need. The Lord will provide, is our trust. Would Jesus be calling you to adopt a needy student? You will be helping the child Jesus in disguise; that's our Faith.

Eucharistic Families

Let's begin with the well known adage: "The Family that Prays Together - Stays Together." The Eucharist is the highest form of prayer.

As your bishop, in the name of Jesus, I invite all you families to participate fully in the Second Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, August 25 and 26 in the Amarillo Civic Center.

Instruction on the Eucharist states: "145. The pastoral value of Eucharistic Congresses should be highly esteemed, and they 'should be a genuine sign of faith and charity.'"

Pope John Paul II said: "The Christian family's sanctifying role is grounded in baptism and has its highest expression in the Eucharist, to which Christian marriage is intimately connected. To understand better and live more intensely the graces and responsibilities of Christian marriage and family life, it is altogether necessary to rediscover and strengthen this relationship.

"The Eucharist is the very source of Christian marriage. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in fact, represents Christ's Covenant of love with the Church, sealed with his blood on the Cross" (The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations of John Paul II, #57).

Eucharistic marriages produce Eucharistic families.

May the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus be your strength and inspiration!
Sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev. John W. Yanta
Bishop of Amarillo

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