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My favorite time of year

This is my favorite time of year. The days are cooler; the air is crisp as I make my way to church for morning Mass. The world is alive with beautiful colors as the leaves change in anticipation of their annual departure. With its colorful look, bright days, the mix of sun and rain, autumn reminds me that the world God has given us is beautiful indeed.

The diverse beauty that we see during the fall is a good reminder of the colorful beauty of family and friends that God places in our lives. The months ahead will provide us with special opportunities to help us treasure the family we have and the friends with whom we surround ourselves. Of all the influences that mold and shape us through the years, our family and friends play a key role. Although it may at times be hard to discern, they too, like the rest of our world, are God’s gift to us.

Our family has such a foundational influence on us as we make our journey from newborn to adulthood. Hopefully they are there to coax us toward and celebrate with us the many milestones of our lives. It is within our family that many of us are first loved and learn to share that love in return. In the quiet peace of childhood bedtime prayers shared with Mom or Dad, we begin to build our relationship with God. The household chores we have as children teach us to become responsible adults. In the joys and sorrows that are part of each family’s life, we learn to be steadfast companions and feel the grace of God sustaining us through so much.

Our friends are a bit different. While we are born with our families, we are given the ability (and responsibility) to choose our friends. Early in life we learn that there are the right and wrong sort of friends. In time, we come to see that friendship is yet another way that God enriches us and calls us to continue growing. Our friends provide us with healthy and necessary challenge – being eyes and ears to see and hear things from an entirely different perspective. They can also be God’s voice speaking to us a word that comforts or challenges.

“The apple never falls far from the tree,” and “You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep,” are two sayings whose truth seems clearer to me with each passing day. Our family and friends are God’s gift to us – they make our lives more colorful and they reflect to us the beauty, love and wonder of our God. In this issue of FAITH, we explore the gift of family and friends. The lives of Celia Guerra’s 14 children are a wonderful reflection of the faith and love shared by Celia and her late husband, Ralph. Bishop Mengeling and Bishop Povish reflect on their treasured family members and friends. Sometimes what began as friendship can have an unanticipated outcome, as is true for Jerry and Alice Fust and Brian and Penny Vriebel. And, in Culture, we offer ideas for beginning and maintaining a family tree. All this and more awaits you on another journey in FAITH.