It might be a simple "thank you" for someone’s kindness, profound gratitude for life, health and faith, or somewhere in between.
But for many faithful across the archdiocese and the country, Thanksgiving Day provides a special opportunity to express gratitude to God, family and neighbor.
Continuing a long-held tradition at the Catholic Voice, the newspaper asked several people from around the archdiocese what they are most thankful for this year. Their answers grace this page.
St. Patrick Parish, senior at St. Mary High School, both in O’Neill.
A person can be thankful for many aspects of life such as their family, friends or teachers; however, I am most thankful for the O’Neill community.
O’Neill is a small town of 3,700 that has had a significant impact on my life. People take for granted the advantages of small towns, such as the safe environment, wonderful hospitality, or even the short commutes, but this year I have noticed the community’s support more than anything.
With having two schools (O’Neill Junior-Senior High School and St. Mary), people may imagine there could be tensions or rivalries, yet this year is different. Both schools have had success with their sports teams, and the community has done an amazing job of supporting and celebrating their successes. It is always reassuring to see the community come together despite having differences.
The O’Neill citizens are friendly, encouraging, and their attitude and support have shaped me in many ways; I am thankful to have grown up in such a remarkable community.
St. Patrick Parish in Gretna, junior at V.J. & Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha
There has been so much that I have been thankful for this past year, and it would be next to impossible to list it all. I must say that I am especially grateful for my loving family that has been there for me throughout my endeavors. Especially during these stressful times of high school, it warms me to know that my family will be there to support me.
I have also been blessed to be given the capability to attend an amazing high school. Skutt Catholic High School has provided me with many opportunities to grow mentally and spiritually. I have also made many friends at school, for whom I am more than grateful to see almost every day. My many peers at Skutt have made my high school experience fantastic.
I am especially thankful for the many opportunities that I have been given in my lifetime, as well as those who have helped influence me to become who I am now.
St. Stanislaus Parish in Duncan, seventh-grader at Columbus Middle School in Columbus
I am thankful for countless things, but here are just a few from over the course of this year. I am very thankful for the gift of the sacrament of confirmation that I received recently. I would not have been able to get there without the guidance, love, prayers and support from my confirmation teachers, parents, prayer partner and my sponsor.
I am so thankful that they helped me get to that point to be able to love God even more, and to become an adult of the church. Another thing that I am thankful for is my safety and that I am not in the Middle East where it is a time of terror and darkness.
I’m also thankful for emotional safety and school safety. I know that God and my guardian angel are beside me every step of the way and that I can have faith in them. I am thankful for so many other things too, but mostly that I am a child of God.
FATHER MATTHEW GUTOWSKI
Pastor, St. Joseph Parish in Springfield
I am thankful for being pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Springfield and for my parishioners. Our parishioners are generous and serve the parish in so many wonderful ways, such as the members of our Ladies Guild and Knights of Columbus Council as well as those who volunteer for our liturgical and music ministries. We have dedicated parishioners who carry out the various works of mercy, from our catechists and aides in our religious education program to those who provide and serve meals at the Stephen Center. It is so inspiring to witness them putting their faith into action.
I am also thankful for experiencing the dedication of those who serve in the various apostolates in which I am involved: the Holy Family Shrine, the Sancta Familia Medical Apostolate, the Omaha Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and the Mater Filius Home for expectant mothers.
In sum, I am thankful for those who are already living Archbishop (George J.) Lucas’ vision for the archdiocese: One Church, encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy. I am so blessed to collaborate with these persons in the mission of bringing the love and Gospel of Christ to the world, which brings joy to my heart as a pastor and priest.
BENEDICTINE SISTER RITA MARIE TOFFLEMIRE
Immaculata Monastery in Norfolk
I am thankful and grateful for the blessings and learning experiences God has bestowed on me throughout this year.
First, reflecting on the virtue of gratitude, I have discovered it is a lifelong journey of learning what it means to be grateful. I am grateful for the new life that God has granted to our Norfolk Missionary Benedictine Sisters with a second year novice and two new postulants, and the new life, learning and joy they bring to our community.
I am grateful for the new life that God has gifted in my family, for two new great-nephews and the joy and new life they give to the whole family. This vision of new life brings about a new hope and thankfulness for all the blessings and challenges to grow on our faith journey with and to the Lord.
PAT & JANET SCHMITZ
St. Michael Parish in Albion
We are extremely thankful daily for God’s graces and mercy, and the health and safety of our family. Every day there are prayer chain calls for people who are sick or dying. As parents, we not only pray that our awesome Heavenly Father keeps us healthy physically, but also mentally and especially spiritually.
As our adult children, (early 20’s), start to live their own lives, we pray more now than ever that the Lord gives them a deeper desire to always seek him out in every part of their journey – to give back to others, communities, churches, to be Jesus, so that others can see the deep love of life that they have before they even begin to talk. That is the single most important grace that we are thankful for....our deep faith in the Lord’s huge ocean of love.
EILEEN & RAY WHISMAN
Residents of Via Christe Assisted Living Community in Omaha
We’re thankful that we are still able to be together as husband and wife in the same facility. We are both in our 90s and we think that’s a great gift. We feel very blessed and we are thankful that we can spend every day together; our health has allowed us to do that.
We also are thankful that we get to go to Mass every day here at Via Christe and worship the Lord, and we are very blessed to be able to grow closer to him every day.
And we are thankful for our family and friends, of course. We have wonderful children and a supportive staff here. It’s a blessing every day knowing so many people care about you. We really enjoy our days.
CHRISTINA & RICHARD MURCEK
Holy Name Parish in Omaha
We are thankful for the Holy Spirit guiding our family to Holy Name church and school where a strong, diverse Omaha community joins to worship, share, learn, welcome and support one another; two joyful girls who we are blessed to watch grow through their wonder years of asking many questions about the world around them and the struggle of adolescent independence that will come knocking on the door in a few years. We are hopeful to see these young girls grow into women who will make a meaningful impact on the next generation.
We are thankful for our families who show unconditional love and support, and for all those who have sacrificed their lives or continue to devote their lives to keep the country we call home, free. We pray one day all God’s children will be able to enjoy these freedoms equally.