Bishop Checchio reflects on communications, The Catholic Spirit

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
St. Paul often wrote these words to greet the faithful in the newly founded Christian communities of the early Church: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  As your new Shepherd, I happily borrow these words of the great evangelizer to greet you, my newfound Catholic friends of the Diocese of Metuchen. 
Since I arrived in early March, I have been so inspired by your warm welcome and all that you do to spread the Good News here in Central New Jersey.  Likewise, I have been overwhelmed by the kind letters, notes and promises of prayer as I begin my ministry here. 
The May 3 ordination Mass and installation as your fifth bishop truly was a joyful day! For me, the experience of joy continues as I travel around the diocese to celebrate Masses and visit parishes and schools, where I am able to greet so many of you.
Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown me throughout these first weeks. Through your loving witness, you have encouraged me to give of myself more generously. In return for your goodness, I hope to be an instrument of God in assisting you to be reconciled to Him and to be instruments for His work here in this diocese, making us an even more effective and enduring sign of His Kingdom.
“Be reconciled to God” will be my motto and guide my episcopal ministry amongst you. This motto is inspired by the writings of St. Paul, who urges us always to be reconciled to God, and then to become ambassadors for Him in reconciling others to God our Father. The whole reason God sent His Son to us was to lead us back to the Father; and this reconciling is the one true route to grace-filled and peaceful hearts and lives, resting in God now and hopefully forever in heaven.
I am grateful for Pope Francis’ confidence in me and delighted that he has asked me to come to this wonderful diocese in my home state; and I am looking forward to making this my home for a very long time. Our Holy Father’s love and hopes for this local Church are expressed in his letter appointing me as fifth Bishop of Metuchen, reprinted below.  Please remember to pray daily for our Holy Father, as he guides our Church throughout the world.
As I begin my time here in the local Church of Metuchen, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the ministry of Bishop Bootkoski along with the priests, religious, deacons and lay ministers, who have worked so well in building up this beautiful portion of God’s vineyard. I look forward to working with you as, together, we continue to build upon and strengthen our local Church.  In particular, we pray for our Bishop-emeritus and all the priests of the diocese who are celebrating anniversaries this year and are commemorated in this edition of the Catholic Spirit.  Likewise, with much gratitude to God, we support in prayer the three new priests who will be ordained in our Cathedral on May 28.  We also need to pray that many more of our young adults will respond to God’s call to give their lives in service of this local Church as her priests.  No doubt, God is calling more of them to be with and follow Him as His priests, and we need to do all we can to ensure that they can hear the quiet call of the Lord and encourage them to respond “yes” to His invitation. 
Finally, in the days ahead, I ask for your continued support, assistance and prayers that I may be an effective shepherd and servant. Please know my joy-filled and grateful heart offers up a daily prayer that God’s grace and peace fill the hearts of you and your families.
Thank you and God bless you.
The Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Bishop of Metuchen

NOTE: The following letter was published in the August 25, 2016 edition of The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen.

Three decades ago Communio et Progressio pointed out that "modern media offer new ways of confronting people with the message of the Gospel".  Pope Paul VI said the Church "would feel guilty before the Lord" if it failed to use the media for evangelization.  Pope John Paul II has called the media "the first Areopagus of the modern age" and declared that "it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the 'new culture' created by modern communications".
— “The Church and Internet” Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002

One of the priests I used to work with was fond of telling his staff and other priests about communicating with one another in a parish or the diocese, “When you think you are communicating enough, you probably have to double your efforts.”  I think our Diocese has these words in mind, too. Communication is so important in our day.  How do we communicate well with one another? How do we get out the good news which our Diocese has to share amongst ourselves and with others?  

The Catholic Spirit staff does a wonderful job assisting us in this effort and is certainly now a first rate publication. I know there are many who are grateful to all those who contribute articles regularly and who work so hard to ready it for printing and mailing. As I travel throughout the diocese, I see the newspaper being taken from our parishes and many often comment on it, along with our website and Facebook page. 

It is always encouraging to hear such positive feedback and, of course, to receive donations and subscriptions. Our parishioners seem to particularly enjoy the articles that highlight local parishes and events in Diocesan life, which our staff works hard to keep the newspaper focused on.  

Putting together the bi-weekly edition is not an easy task. Many dioceses have had to stop their publications given the rising costs and changing technology. Our editor, Joanne Ward, will soon complete her service to the Diocese, and we owe her and her staff a debt of gratitude for their efforts in publishing The Catholic Spirit and getting it in to as many hands in the Diocese as possible in print and electronic form.  

Communications is always a challenge, but here in the Diocese of Metuchen we are striving to use the latest technology to stay in touch and to further our mission in today’s time and place while being good stewards of the resources at our disposal. Keep in touch with us by following us through The Catholic Spirit, our Facebook page and Twitter account. Become an evangelizer too, by sharing the good news of the Diocese with others. 

Note: The Catholic Spirit's website is: www.catholicspirit.com. For the diocese's social media sites visit: facebook.com/DioceseofMetuchen/ and twitter.com/diocesemetuchen)

The Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Bishop of Metuchen