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Diocese of Manchester Fosters Harmony and Reconciliation for Community Members

By S. Mathur

A diocese is a territorial unit of the Roman Catholic Church. The term is derived from the Greek word for administration, and was used to refer to administrative units of the Roman Empire. A diocese is named for its see city, where its cathedral is located.

Tom Bebbington, Director of Communication, explains that "The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of more than 264,000 Catholics throughout the state. As Catholics, we believe it is our baptismal call to bring ourselves and others into a closer relationship with Christ. We do so in a number of ways, including worshiping God in Word and Sacrament, proclaiming and sharing our Faith, promoting holiness of life through continuing conversion, and serving human needs, especially those of the poor and the oppressed."

The Diocese of Manchester was created in 1884. It is headed by Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci, who was named by Pope Benedict as the tenth Bishop of Manchester, and installed as bishop at St. Joseph Cathedral in 2011. A diocese is made up of parishes under the care of a pastor. While parishes are tied to their geographical location, people can choose to attend the church which most appeals to them.

What is the role of the Catholic Church today? Bebbington says that in religious terms, "The Diocese of Manchester shares the mission of the Church throughout the world to witness to the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. In communion with our Holy Father Pope Francis, we seek to foster reconciliation and harmony among the people of our diocese, our state, our nation, and our world. Here in New Hampshire we are primarily focused on forming Christian communities on the family, parish and diocesan levels."

The Diocese oversees a variety of ministries and programs. People looking for information and guidance on matters such as marriage, baptism, annulment, or thinking of returning to the church can contact the appropriate diocesan offices. There are special departments that manage the Catholic Church's educational and charitable programs. The Diocese also maintains family records such as births, baptismals, marriages and funerals, dating back to 1884. These records are confidential but may be released to relatives who can prove a familial link to the records requested.

How can someone interested in joining the Church begin? Bebbington says that "We invite everyone to share the light and love of Jesus Christ through our parish churches. Parishes throughout the state offer a number of vibrant ministries and social activities, and our Church is enriched by the participation of people from all walks of life. Visit our calendar of events at catholicnh.org, contact any one of our pastors, who would be glad to welcome you to their parish, or simply walk through the doors of a church and join in the celebration of Mass."

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