For some time now, I have been increasingly aware of the number of people around the state of Wyoming who have lost their jobs. Over the last two years, there have been steady layoffs in the oil and gas industry, with other jobs being lost in the coal mining industry. With the impact on these core economic drivers other areas of the economy are also beginning to feel the impact.

Besides those who have lost jobs, other business are also experiencing a slowdown, leading to less demand for their products and services, meaning fewer hours worked for those still employed and less income for the business owners. Even those fortunate enough to still have a job, there is anxiety about the stability of their futures.

I write as a pastor, concerned for all of those whose lives are affected during these difficult economic times. I want you to know that I care, and the Church cares for you. You are not alone. We are here to walk with you to provide the moral, spiritual and practical support of your faith family. Please know that many people pray for you and your families, and we are just a phone call away. Our parish and church doors are open, and we want you to know we are here to help you.

Very often, when life gets difficult, we need a shoulder to lean on. We are here to provide an understanding heart, an ear to listen and a voice of encouragement and whatever practical support we can muster.

I also wish to extend a challenge to the many who are still working to be attentive to the needs of your neighbors. Besides our human presence and understanding, we are also to do what we can to provide for the temporary needs of others. Most of us have more than enough personal items that we can share during times of need. Perhaps our parishes can set up a simple network that posts the needs of one family that another family can easily meet. And, yes, where it is possible to provide financial assistance, I encourage those who can to do what they can.

As Church, we are all members of the one body of Christ. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) This is an important time for us to live as the one Body of Christ. In this Year of Mercy, let us be mindful of those who are suffering. Let us share their suffering, and in our works of charity, may we also share in the joy of serving Christ in one another.

With assurances of prayer, and gratitude for your willingness to serve one another, I remain,

In The Heart of Christ,

Bishop Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL