MY DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY:
MAY the All-Loving Father and His Blessed Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Ghost bless and illuminate you and draw us all more closely together in the bond of His grace and in the vigor and life of the Holy Catholic Faith.
The past year has been noted by the establishment here of the Mother House of the Community of the Holy Nativity. It will bring a benediction to the Diocese, and has already been of much spiritual aid to the parochial clergy. During the past year we have received six priest associates, and seventeen Lady associates, admitted seven postulants, given the habit to three novices, and professed two sisters. We ask for the Community your intelligent sympathy and cooperation in its development.
To our clergy and for their people we are always willing to give away our Tracts, and the Sisters from their Lending Library are prepared to loan books to any of the clergy and laity. It has been said the laity of our Church are not as a body as well instructed as they should be, but with books at their disposal in our Diocese there is no reason this should be the case. We have a body of learned clergy, and we desire that the same may be said of the laity of Fond du Lac.
There are some matters concerning the Church's common welfare that we would briefly bring before you. Your opinion is asked in regard to the advisability of reducing the number of delegates to the General Convention. If you thought best, you might declare the need of the erection of provinces, with a distribution of funds from a central house in each province. For the better guarding of our Church's received Faith, it would be well to ask that our Theological Seminaries should be placed under the supervision of the Bishops in whose departments they are.
In the formation of a final Court of Appeal on matters of doctrine, discipline, and worship, the Court should consist of the House of Bishops, for the Bishops are the guardians of the deposit of the Faith, and have a divine assistance in guarding it which is not promised to any other order in the Church. It might be well to reaffirm our position in regard to the assuming of our proper designation of the Catholic Church in America.
The sad condition of our country in respect of the sanctity of marriage makes it advisable that the American Church should conform her canon on Divorce to the Canon Law of the rest of Western Christendom. It is at least difficult to explain how a marriage that is valid in the Diocese of Wisconsin is invalid in the Diocese of the same communion on the other side of Lake Superior.
Last of all, no faithful Churchman can help but rejoice and be glad in the great things which God has done for His Church in this country this last year in the vindication of the Catholic Faith, and it is characteristic of the Catholic Church that she is able to expel from her whatever would be deleterious to her health, and the fact that false teaching has been condemned so absolutely and with such certainty is a manifestation to the whole world that we are a part of that body against which the gates of Hell can never prevail.
The difficulties of building up a Church in this country are great, and the laborers are few, but God has done great things for us already, whereof we rejoice, and we are sure that every one, both of the Clergy and of the Laity, will realize their responsibility and do their part, and God will yet make the American Church a joy to the whole earth.