Archbishop Alex J. Brunett
Dear Friends of the Diocese of Oakland, I greet you this Easter with special thoughts of joy and peace. I have finished my first six months here and continue to be amazed by the wonderful clergy, Sisters and people who live and work here. They nourish our parish ministries and reach out to many who are in need.
We read so much in the newspapers these days as the election of a new Pope takes place at the Vatican. One would think that everything in the Church is falling apart, trust and hope are shattered and our future is bleak.
I believe that Easter holds out for us the promise of new life.
Easter is one of the most difficult feasts for us to come to grips with. It pushes us to the very brink of faith, for the resurrection of Christ challenges us on every level of our life.
Why and how we respond to life will depend to a great extent upon the way we respond to the Easter mystery of life over death.
Sometimes we divert our attention from this challenge of faith by immersing ourselves in all the secular frills of this feast — Easter Rabbit, Easter eggs, a new set of clothes, ribbons and lilies, chocolate bunnies and vacations.
Sometimes we, as a Church, live without the hope and spirit of renewal that is held out to us in the Resurrection. We are masters of discovering the frustrations of the process of renewal. So much of what we try to do ends in a cul-de-sac.
Effective Parish Councils are hard to form, goal setting and procedural matters are tedious. Religious education programs seem to falter, programs for youth tax our patience, and Christian service projects fail to elicit the support we need. Everywhere we encounter death in all its forms.
In faith we can throw off the shackles that have bound us to our petty concerns, our narrow visions, our brooding over lost loves and squandered opportunities.
If Christ is truly risen, we can open wide our arms to embrace the future with confidence. There is in each one of us a spirit that wants to be rekindled, to be born again.
The election of a new pope will bring new opportunities and new insights into our faith life. For this to happen we must do our part and seek toward the unity of faith and action that are part of every Eucharistic celebration. Without unity there can never be a future in faith. The pope as the Vicar of Christ comes to us so "that we can have life and have it in abundance."
On our part, we, as Church, must be a living, active force in humanity. Unless we transform human life with the life of the risen Lord, we are a lie, a sham, a charnel-house, a valley of dry bones.
O that the Spirit of God would once more pass by and say into these dry bones, "Live."
I wish all of you and your families the joy and peace of the Easter Season. You will be in my thoughts and prayers each day and each Mass during this joyous season. I would be most grateful if you would remember to pray for me and my responsibilities to you and the whole Church in the Diocese of Oakland.
Peace and Hope in Christ our Light!
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