I am writing to greet you in these Advent days as we all are preparing in so many ways to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord. Above all, I write these words in gratitude to God for all of you, especially as I have just celebrated my 10 years as the Diocesan Bishop. I remember well the excitement of my first months here, and the beauty of Orange County and the love of God reflected in all of you. Even with some of the challenges of these past 10 years my love for all of you and gratitude to the Lord has only increased and deepened over the years, much as I saw the love of my mother and father deepen over the years of their marriage. This time of the year would often find my father and some of us kids help put up the outdoor Christmas decorations, along with my grandfather and grandmother Jones at their home just a few blocks away.
A NATIVITY SET AND MUSIC BOX THAT BELONGED TO BISHOP KEVIN VANN’S PARENTS, WILLIAM AND THERESA VANN. THE MUSIC BOX PLAYS “LOVE STORY.” PHOTO COURTESY OF BISHOP KEVIN VANN
In the Midwest all that had to be done soon after Thanksgiving because of the bad weather often coming early in December. As I am opening and hanging all of the lights and ornaments here at home (with the help of friends and staff) I have seen once again two of my parents Christmas ornaments, one of which they bought in their first year of marriage in 1950!
CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS BELONGING TO BISHOP KEVIN VANN’S PARENTS, WILLIAM AND THERESA VANN. THE RED ORNAMENT IS FROM THEIR FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE IN 1950. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BISHOP KEVIN VANN
The lights and the light reflecting off of these ornaments speak to me of the birth of Christ – the promised Messiah spoken of by the prophets in the Liturgy of the Season – Isaiah and John the Baptist. And the music and the carols (particularly the O Antiphons of the last days of the season) speak to us of the love of God which has come to us in the Birth of His Son. I think hymns such as “Gesu Bambino” and “Love Came Down at Christmas” which the girls’ choir at St. Agnes, under the direction of Sr. James Marie, O.P. would sing. In some way, all of those people come to me again in the beauty and faith of the season. But this is not simply about the past, it is about the mystery and power of the Incarnation for the present moment, where the eternal love of God and the redeeming power of Christ calls to us.
SANTA CLAUS AND SNOWMAN FIGURINES THAT BELONGED TO BISHOP KEVIN VANN’S PARENTS, WILLIAM AND THERESA VANN
Just after Thanksgiving I made a trip to see my brother Les and his wife Shannon in Asheville, North Carolina for a few days and two days before Christmas Father Michael and I will be going to see my godmother Rita Whitaker in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the last of my mother’s generation and I want to spend some time with her.
I pray all of you have a very blessed Christmas season, which lasts for 12 days and beyond. Thank you for you love, dedication, generosity and support these past 10 years.
O COME LET US ADORE HIM CHRIST THE LORD