My Dear Friends in Christ,

With this letter comes my warmest wishes for a most Blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of year when we gather with family and friends in sincere gratitude for God’s abundant blessings in our lives. This year confronted all of us with so many unique challenges that it may be difficult to recognize the blessings God has provided for us in 2020.  But gratitude can only be experienced in the present and now is our present moment.

In Matthew’s Gospel, our Lord invites us to “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (6:26). Each of us matters that much to God!

Throughout history, thanksgivings have been held at the end of harvests, in celebration of successful growing seasons. But the yield at harvest time is always unpredictable, just as life’s trials. However, our faith assures us that when challenges abound, God’s grace abounds all the more.

Photo by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

As we give thanks for our blessings, we must remember the One who blesses us.  I encourage you to spend time with our Lord in prayer and especially at Mass, whether in person or through live stream, to thank Him for the many blessings, seen or unseen, that you have received and also for the gift of the Eucharist.  The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving and we have no more perfect way to thank the Father than to join ourselves to Christ’s perfect act of praise and thanksgiving.

As I reflect on this year, I remain truly grateful to see God blessing our Diocese through each of you, our faithful laity, clergy, religious and seminarians.  Your support of our brothers and sisters, your generosity in providing food for the hungry, for helping with the efforts to keep our churches sanitized, your cooperation in observing the health and safety guidelines have all certainly been edifying.  The dedication and creativity of our principals, teachers and school staffs have been heroic.  I remain always grateful for all of you who staff our parishes and to our diocesan staff for your steadfast devotion to the Church and its mission.  It is my joy and privilege to be a coworker with all of you for Christ who gives us courage and hope.

On Thanksgiving Day, whether we gather with family and friends together around the same table or remotely gather through the gift of technology, let us always remember and give thanks for the many blessings from our Lord. May you experience the nearness and love of Christ this Thanksgiving Day and always.

It is my joy to wish you a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

Most Rev. Ronald Gainer

Bishop of Harrisburg