Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In Beer City, Bishop-elect Fits the Bill

Now, that's one happy Timmy. And rightfully so.

As a friend and fan of the wonderful crew at the Basilica of St Josaphat, the legend of "Fr Bill" is no secret in these parts.

Now, with Fr William Callahan's elevation to the episcopacy, the lore spreads a good bit further... and, in Milwaukee, the gang is celebrating his "homecoming."

At a St Francis Seminary prayer service and press conference this morning, "che gioia" all around was the order of the day:
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan called [Callahan] a "successful pastor at one of our most legendary parishes" in reference to his years of service as pastor and rector of the Basilica of St. Josaphat, from 1994-2005.

"Pope Benedict has chosen well," said the archbishop. "This is a boy from the upper Midwest. Although from the wrong side of the tracks - Chicago."

During the prayer service with diocesan staff, Bishop-elect Callahan shared the story when he was asked to be Milwaukee's auxiliary bishop.

"My life took a dramatic change, obviously, a week ago yesterday," he told the crowd. He was taken into [Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re's] living area, so he said he knew something big was happening, and was told, "The Holy Father has decided to name you the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, what do you say to the Holy Father?

"What does one say," he said with a laugh. "First and foremost what shot through my head at that moment was the second sentence of the rule of St. Francis - 'Friar Francis promises obedience to the pope and his elected successors.' There was no doubt in my mind of my response to the Holy Father. It is with a great deal of respect and thanksgiving that I remember him and say 'thank you' to Pope Benedict XVI."...

Callahan was asked what adjustments he foresees coming from his religious order to a diocesan auxiliary bishop.

"The internal aspects of my life will change by virtues of my vows and practical living," he said. "I will stay faithful and true to my vows of chastity and obedience and poverty and to remain simple in my life."

He described his religious order as stressing the importance of community life, work in urban, city settings and education ministries.

Archbishop Dolan remarked that the need for Bishop-elect Callahan to live in community will be fulfilled since he will live at Saint Francis Seminary.

"This will provide community and structure," said the archbishop.

The archbishop also applauded Bishop-elect Callahan's fund-raising work at the Basilica of St. Josaphat during his time as pastor, but stopped short of saying his gift for fundraising was the reason he was selected by the pope.

"I don't think those skills were in the pope's mind, but (Callahan) has major fund-raising skills, so yeah, that's going to be one of his duties," said Archbishop Dolan....

Archbishop Dolan said that it wasn't until recently that he asked if he could ask Pope Benedict XVI for another auxiliary bishop. When he was granted permission, the archbishop was also asked to make recommendations to the pope for this position. Without listing any other names he may have recommended, Archbishop Dolan simply said, "I was not surprised" at Bishop-elect Callahan being named auxiliary bishop.

Bishop-elect Callahan said he already has ideas for what he hopes to accomplish in Milwaukee.

"I expect to be responsive to the needs of the archdiocese as expressed by the archbishop," he said. "To be responsive to the ways the church asks me to be faithful, have a generous heart, and be open to the promptings of grace as it manifests and be confident that God is provident and he can't outdo me in generosity."
...and more from the Journal-Sentinel:
Callahan's installation will give Dolan and Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba a fellow bishop who has local pastoral experience and a reputation for both fund-raising and administrative skills. Much of the fund raising and work on a multimillion-dollar renovation of St. Josaphat basilica and the construction of its visitors center took place under his leadership as pastor.

Dolan said in an interview Tuesday, moments before a news conference at St. Francis Seminary, that, among other things, he hopes Callahan eventually will serve as a kind of chief financial officer, easing some of the other two bishops' administrative duties. What form that might take, however, will depend upon the results of strategic planning that is under way to reassess the entire administrative structure of the archdiocese and to find ways to run it more effectively, Dolan said later with Callahan standing at this side.

Callahan said he experienced an overwhelming emotion after a cardinal in the Vatican told him this month that the pope wanted him to serve as an auxiliary bishop in Milwaukee and needed to know if he would accept the appointment. Exhibiting a touch of Dolan's Irish humor, Callahan added, "So, at that point I felt like Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason's character on "The Honeymooners" TV series), kind of 'Hamma, hamma, hamma.' But I knew exactly what was in my heart and what I needed to say, and that was, 'Yes.' And so, service to the church is exactly what it's all about."

Dolan said that Callahan will participate in teaching, governance and sanctification, including performing confirmations and being at parish Masses on weekends. "He's got a great reputation as a good administrator, as very sound in preaching the values of stewardship, and he did a bang-up job at the basilica," Dolan said....

Callahan will face some challenging transitions as the archdiocese continues efforts to sell the Cousins Center and its approximately 44-acre site in St. Francis, where the central offices and some other ministries are based. That is being done both to help pay for a multimillion-dollar settlement of clergy abuse lawsuits and to get quarters that are more cost-efficient than the underutilized, aging center.

The archdiocese also is launching a $105 million capital campaign this fall, by far the largest in its history, as Dolan seeks to establish a stronger tradition of stewardship and inspire the area's Catholics with a challenging new vision.
PHOTO: Archdiocese of Milwaukee