Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Appointees Speak

The "Docket-Buster" having come to pass, it's Statement Time:

Pates (Des Moines -- installation set for 29 May):
I am ever so grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for appointing me as the ninth bishop of Des Moines. It is a welcome privilege to be called to serve such a vibrant, spirited community in the heartland of America. I look forward to our life together....

It might reasonably be asked, do I have any themes or priorities that I anticipate will characterize my ministry in Des Moines? Naturally, the first is commitment to my role as pastor – maintaining an openness to situations and needs of the moment.

One experience that I have benefited from in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis under Archbishop Harry Flynn is the development of a Vocation Culture. From what I know about this community, I believe all of the elements of such a culture are present to coalesce. Among the elements are:
  • An energized, committed faith community
  • Life-giving and widespread Eucharistic devotion
  • Support, encouragement and engagement of youth and young adults in Church life
  • Prayerful and positive opportunities for young people to listen to and discern God’s call to:
o Priesthood
o Life as a vowed woman or man religious
o Permanent diaconate
o Lay ecclesial ministry
Such a vocation culture, I am convinced, is reflective of a diocesan community’s realization of mission and thus symptomatic of its health.

During my time as bishop, I have become strongly committed to evangelization. Pope John Paul II coined the phrase: New Evangelization. Quite simply in Western society it means a conscious effort by us believers to recognize our call to make the Gospel known in place – that is, where we live, on the ground so to speak. It is a consciousness that is exercised explicitly in the Church through Catechesis, liturgy, RCIA and other opportunities. Implicitly, it is exercised in our dialogue with the culture, in communication provided through the opportunities of modern technology, through advocacy of social justice, our tireless care for the sick, the suffering, the vulnerable and the tsunami soon to swamp us – the seniors and aged.

An additional priority for me will be ministry to our youth and young adults. In every setting that I have been, I have been vitalized by their partnership in the life of the Church. They are important.
Cantu (San Antonio aux.)
In the midst of a busy day in Holy Week, while visiting the children at the parochial school of my parish, I received a call. I answered my cell phone, and the parish secretary told me that the nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, was trying to reach me.

It was in the midst of their busyness that the disciples were called…they were called by Christ to follow him. This call to serve as the auxiliary bishop of San Antonio has given me pause. Like my original call to the priesthood, it has inspired in me a great sense of humility....

As I make this transition in my life, as I move to the great City of San Antonio, and to this historic archdiocese, as I take on a new role in the church and added responsibility, I ask for the prayers of the church. I become a successor to the apostles – an awesome responsibility, indeed! And like the apostles, I will rely on the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, that I might always shepherd with love, in truth, and with compassion.
Conley (Denver aux.):
As I wrote in my letter of acceptance to the Holy Father, I am very mindful of my own unworthiness for this office, and I am deeply moved by the confidence he has placed in me. At the same time, I have always believed in God’s providential hand in my life, and he has always given me the grace to fulfill every new responsibility. Relying upon God’s help, I pray that he will guide me in this new ministry and that he will help me to serve the good people of the Church in northern Colorado with zeal and joy....

I would also like to thank Archbishop Chaput for his kindness to me, especially over these past few weeks since I learned of the appointment. Archbishop Chaput has been a big hero of mine over the years. His tremendous love for the Church, his fidelity to the Holy Father and the Magisterium, and his charity and zeal for souls, have always been a model for me. I look forward to learning from him how to be a good and holy bishop. I would also like to thank his very competent staff as well, who have all been kind and helpful to me over these past days....

I admit that I am sad to be leaving my parish of Blessed Sacrament in Wichita. I will truly miss the people and my brother priests of the Wichita Diocese. Since my return from Rome in 2006, I have treasured parish life as a pastor of souls. Blessed Sacrament is a wonderful “neighborhood parish” and I have thanked God everyday for appointing me pastor. I will miss the families that I have come to know and love very much.

I realize, however, that when I became a priest I surrendered my life to Christ for the needs of his Church. I remember reading a book in the seminary called The Priest Is Not His Own, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. This means that we go in faith where we are sent, just like the apostles. We priests belong to Jesus Christ and to his bride the Church. This is hard sometimes and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer. But I also have a sense of peace and freedom, knowing that this is not my decision, but the Lord’s.

I have chosen for my episcopal motto: cor ad cor loquitur which means “heart speaks to heart”. Some of you may recognize that this is the same motto chosen by the great 19th century English convert to the Catholic faith, the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. Cardinal Newman had a huge influence on my own conversion and in my vocation to the priesthood. He continues to be a kind of spiritual mentor to me.

For me, this motto teaches us that souls are won over to Christ, heart to heart, person to person, through goodness and friendship. Cardinal Newman once wrote that next to the influence of supernatural grace, the greatest influence over the human soul is the example of goodness and virtue in another person.
Still to come are the Pacific time press conference in San Francisco introducing Bishop-elect Bill Justice and, of course, the 2pm Central presser presenting Bishop-elect Tony Taylor to the diocese of Little Rock.

Underscoring his pleasure with the Arkansas appointment, in an unusual move the state's metropolitan Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City -- until today, Taylor's ordinary -- will helm the Little Rock gathering.