We Have Something to Look Forward To
By Penny Wiegert
Happy New Year — with the emphasis on ‘new.’ 
I don’t think it’s too presumptuous to say that most everyone was looking forward to a new year after living through such a challenging 2020.  And even though some of the same struggles we experienced in 2020 still remain in the dawn of 2021, there is certainly reason for hope and optimism.
While I can’t prognosticate with real integrity about the rest of the world in 2021, I can let you in on some certainties here at The Observer. It’s something to look forward to!
The new year has been designated by Pope Francis as dedicated to St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord Jesus. With the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the universal Church. 
To mark the occasion, the pope proclaimed a Year of St. Joseph from the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, 2020, to the same day in 2021.
In his apostolic letter the Holy Father writes, “We know that God’s truth does not condemn, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us. That truth always presents itself to us like the merciful father in Jesus’ parable” (see Lk 15:11-32). 
This is what we plan to celebrate with facts and information you will not read anywhere else. We will celebrate dear St. Joseph and God’s truth.
We are fortunate to have not one, but seven of our 104 Catholic parishes in the diocese dedicated by name to St. Joseph.  The Observer will introduce you to these parishes in Apple River, Aurora, Elgin, Freeport, Harvard, Lena and Richmond — who they are and what makes them great parishes. 
This year you will also find out more about devotion to St. Joseph by individuals and religious groups. And in March of course, we’ll delve into the tradition of St. Joseph altars and how they can be done in normal times and times of pandemic. 
St. Joseph will again be front and center in The Observer pages during June as we focus on Father’s Day. 
So as we prepare to complete our first full month of 2021, I can predict a great year of Catholic reading in the pages of The Observer.  
To participate in all this good news, you will of course, have to subscribe or renew a subscription to The Observer. I heard from so many of you about what you like and don’t like about our Catholic newspaper and it is very helpful in planning for the future of bringing you the new Good News of our Catholic faith and the good people who practice it in our 11-county diocese. Thank you. 
To keep our efforts in connecting you to the parishes, the diocese, the universal Catholic Church and to the word of Christ in our world today, please subscribe and encourage others to do so as well.
There are so many things the pandemic took and continues to take from us. But through it all our faith survives and with your subscription, The Observer can continue delivering  faith-filled content to you the way we have since 1935.  
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We look forward to celebrating a new year of great Catholic content to keep you engaged and connected to your faith.  As you consider your subscription, join us in celebrating Catholic Press Month in February and the Year of St. Joseph with the Holy Father’s prayer to St. Joseph:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil.