Happy Birthday, Father-Mentor
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua gifted me with the fount of (spiritual) riches and a life's mission when his example and encouragement inspired me to a take an active place in the church. Over fourteen years, I've seen some amazing things and have a treasure trove of stories and blessings from the journey, but none of it would've happened without his support, his presence, his fatherly solicitude and goodness to me.
I'll never be able to repay it.
Just the other day, I spoke with a priest who happened to meet the Cardinal under serendipitous circumstances. Even now, his memories were vivid -- "He was so interested in pastoral ministry, he kept asking me questions about my people," the priest recalled.
That encounter is, in microcosm, the consistent thread of 56 years of a priesthood impeccably lived: an all-encompassing love of the church and its people, especially the young, and a single-minded commitment to realizing the priestly power of effecting renewal and change in people's lives, and the pastoral imperative of being a source of comfort and strength for the flock. Two years after his retirement, those little moments of blessing babies, of encouraging families, of energizing youth, all through the devotion of this one man continue resonate in the life of our local church and in the hearts of our people. You all see this in me every day.
The Cardinal is enjoying retirement and its opportunities for long-delayed travel and rest -- but, ever the man of action, he misses the daily immersion and engagement of active ministry. Most of all, he misses the people. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers, he's got the whole world in his.
Buon compleanno, Eminenza!