This weekend (February 2-6) I will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to witness the good works of our mission parishes in Banica and Pedro Santana. This will be my first visit to our mission parishes, an exciting opportunity for me to see firsthand the great impact our diocese has made in the past 15 years.
Although I will be gone for only four days, those days will be filled with visits and prayer.
This visit is both a time for celebration and reflection. We will celebrate the 15th anniversary of our partnership with our mission parishes and our shared desire to spread the word of Christ to the world. We will also reflect upon our outreach efforts " both the successes we have made and the works that are still left to do.
Just as we are observing the accomplishments of our schools here during Catholic Schools Week, on Saturday I will have the honor of dedicating the San Francisco Javier Elementary School in Banica. This year, 150 students are learning the lessons of Christ in this building " an awe-inspiring testament to the power of Catholic schools around the world.
I will be honored to meet Bishop Jose Grullon, Bishop of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana. Together, we will mark the 15th anniversary of our mission fellowship. We will celebrate Mass together on Sunday evening, and will certainly pray for the parishioners of both dioceses.
I look forward with great joy to meeting the warm and welcoming people of Banica and Pedro Santana and learning about the 18,000 parishioners, or 62 communities, that worship at these churches. Father Chris Murphy, the parochial vicar, and Father Daniel Gee, current pastor at both parishes, have seen great blessings during their time there. With their guidance and the generosity of our parishioners here in Virginia, the missions have increased church attendance, built new chapels and improved water and sanitation in the area.
I am pleased to join the many priests, volunteers, doctors and campus ministry groups who have witnessed to these missions in the past. We are spreading the word of Christ to all who will listen, and bringing the promises of God's love to the farthest corners of the globe.
As we read in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Christ's thirst for souls knows no borders; neither should our missionary spirit.
So we go forward, with the spirit of charity and the blessings of worship, sharing the good news of Christ with our Catholic brothers and sisters and their communities.
I encourage you to visit our diocesan website at ArlingtonDiocese.org, where you will find background information on the missions, as well as updates and pictures from the trip.
Please pray for me that God will guide me as your bishop, as I pray for God's blessings on our continued work in the Dominican Republic.