Following are the remarks made by Bishop Lee Piché at the Mass in Venezuela, celebrating the 40-year relationship between the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana.
Your excellency, Monseñor Mariano: To you and all the faithful people of the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, I extend sincere greetings, along with love and prayers from his excellency, Monseñor John Nienstedt, and from all your sisters and brothers in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
We rejoice with you today for God´s gift of 40 years of friendship, love and service — 40 years as co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord Jesus. Every true friendship is a relationship of equals, a mutual sharing of blessings of creation and blessings of divine grace.
We in St. Paul and Minneapolis have been greatly blessed by our experience of ministry among you — a ministry for you and a ministry with you.
From the beginning – from the days of the mission at Virgen del Valle parish with Father Ray Monsour and Father Larry Hubbard, to the time at Buen Pastor and San Francisco de Asis, to these days at Jesucristo Resucitado, we have sent some of our finest priests, priests with the heart of Christ the Good Shepherd, to serve and to proclaim the Gospel. And each of these priests has returned to Minnesota an even better priest, for his experience in Venezuela.
As more and more of our lay faithful come to visit you and work side-by-side with you in announcing Good News to the poor, our local church is enriched with greater love, and with a wider view and better understanding of the church universal.
We are grateful for the warm welcome you always give us, and we are very pleased to welcome some of you, including the youth, to visit us in Minnesota.
And so we have been blessed for 40 years, and we are blessed today, for this beautiful anniversary Mass and celebration, were we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord, where we can experience the truth proclaimed by St. Paul, that we are one body in Christ. And it is our hope and our prayer that God will continue to bless us for many years to come, that this friendship may continue to grow deeper and stronger, to the glory of God.
There is only one word we can say to you, dear Monseñor Mariano, and to you, our Venezuelan brothers and sisters, for these 40 years of blessings: Gracias!