A deep Catholic faith tradition is vibrantly reflected in the history of northern Wisconsin. The south shore waters of Lake Superior near Wisconsin's Apostle Islands is where Catholicism was first introduced to the state by Jesuit missionaries from Canada. These French priests were also robust explores and among the first visitors to this vast wilderness. Others followed but after the early 19th century arrival a father Frederick Barriga, now a candidate for sainthood. The Catholic Church began to flourish in the Northland.
Our history throughout the years is that of real people: clergy religious and laity who sacrificed to build churches for worship and schools for educating our youth today. In order to strengthen our diocese and to ensure we have the future financial resources to provide the program's ministries and services necessary to meet the needs of the faithful, we are undertaking this major campaign to ensure the faith in our future.
Greetings, I come to today from Saint John Vianney seminary, where a number of our men are studying for the priesthood. It is a joy for me to be with them and also to be with you--as we talk about our future.
As you know we have challenges in our diocese, the Diocese of Superior. And those challenges need to be met at this time in history by the care we give. I've been able to travel this great Diocese of superior since 2007, and I must say I've been so impressed with the faith of our people. We live in a wonderful time - with challenges - but a wonderful time to build faith and to build a future for faith.
I am looking now to really encourage you to be part of a campaign that will strengthen what we do for the future. Now I know you faced challenges in your time as I have.
In fact, one of those challenges, a small thing, but it is behind me; an icon which I wrote back fifteen years ago. I remember when I took on that challenge, it was a blank of three panels. I was told by others it was pretty much an impossible task. Why so large? I did stall for a few years before I got back into doing the work that needed to be done. But, as you can see, it was completed. It worked out fine.
We're going to be challenged in ways that we think may be impossible, but we know that with God's help and with faith we are able to do sometimes the impossible in pretty marvelous ways. As we move forward, we are going to hear conversations now from various people who are going to talk about the four parts of this campaign that will strengthen each of us for our future.
We are going to hear about our seminarians, about retired priests and their health benefits, our Catholic schools, and what we can do for our parishes. So I ask that you listen to the stories and take it to heart and make it a prayer that challenge that God in faith will help us move, and to move forward in a good way. Thank you.