PO BOX 5079 (51102)
SIOUX CITY, IA (51105)


Church can support couples in forming holy, happy marriages


Dear family in Christ,

As I prepare to leave on a short vacation, I want to assure you of my prayerful support of each of you. I pray for you every day and give thanks to God for the privilege of serving you as Bishop. I can feel your prayerful support of me as well. I count on those prayers daily.


This past weekend I had two distinct joys. I had the honor of blessing the new altar, presidential chair and ambo at the newly refurbished church in Emmetsburg. The ceremony of the anointing and blessing of a new altar is beautiful. One parishioner remarked to me that he was glad he experienced it because it is a rare occurrence. The altar represents Christ, and after the tabernacle, is the central focus of all our worship in a church. The people of Emmetsburg waited a long time to return to their renovated Church. It was worth the wait. This Church is truly another beautiful site for worship and prayer. Thank you to Father Clem Currans for his important leadership in the project.

I wish to thank Father Terry Roder as well for his fine leadership in celebrating the one hundred year anniversary of the building of St. Mary’s Church in Danbury. Several priests were on hand with a full congregation to give thanks to God for this parish church that has been a place of consolation, prayer and
joyful praise for over a hundred years.


Many of you may be familiar with my Pastoral Letter to the people of our diocese entitles “The Church is Always in Need of Renewal.” In this letter, one of my major points in my desire to strengthen marriages and family life in our diocese. Let me share a few thoughts about this with you.

The graces of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass also strengthen us in our vocations. The vocation to married life is one of the most important in the world today. Lived in union with Christ, no vocation can do more to witness to the dignity of each human person as a precious, unique child of God, our loving Creator.

God created us “man and woman,” suited to each other in marriage. Our Lord Jesus Christ raised this natural marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. This means that, as St. Paul taught, marriage between the baptized Christians shows tangibly the unchanging, total, saving love Christ has for us. The love of a husband for his wife, and of a wife for her husband, therefore reflects this same love of Christ for us, his beloved bride. Because His love is unchanging, ours is called to be permanent, dissolved only by the death of one of the two spouses. Because His love is total, ours is called to be exclusive, faithful in every sense to the other. The totality of His love also calls us not to reserve any part of our self-gift in sexual union. We must be open to the fullness of His gift, both the physical and spiritual union, and the possible conception of children. And because His love is saving, our married love is called to be a means of sanctifying grace. Married life teaches husbands and wives how to love fully, by loving each other without reserve, and by loving and serving their own children. Married life teaches young children how to love fully by surrounding them with the generous love of their parents. And married life teaches others how to love, by the family’s witness to the preciousness of human life, to daily forgiveness and mercy, and to self-sacrifice for the sake of greater goods. Please let the church help you in supporting happy, holy and healthy married and family life. We are here to help you in any way we can.

Healthy and stable families affect everyone for the better. Keeping our Catholics families stable and healthy is a fundamental means of the Church’s mission to save souls. Prayer is essential for this. Daily prayer together as a family, for example before eating, going to work, and going to bed, can shape our whole day for loving God and neighbor in a more Christ-like way. Daily prayer sustains us between attending Mass and Confession, keeping us open to the graces of all three sacraments.

May the grace and consolation of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen the saving commitment of all husbands and wives to each other and to their children. May you who have been called to the noble vocation of marriage be steadfast witnesses for Christ. Please keep me and our priests in your prayers, just as I keep all of you and your needs in mine.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

Back to top Back to Commentary