Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Let the Drop Kick Begin"

He might've been in Green Bay, but Bishop David Ricken's western cred was on full display this afternoon as the Kansas-bred, Wyoming-seasoned prelate took the reins of the northeast Wisconsin diocese:
As part of his sermon Thursday, at his installation ceremony, Ricken burst into a classic truck-driving song, followed by a verse of “Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.”

The congregation roared with laughter and applause.

It was the one light moment in an otherwise solemn but glorious affair, attended by bishops from all over the country — and one from Italy — about 400 priests and at least 400 deacons, family members and other religious men and women from the Green Bay and Cheyenne dioceses....

Ricken’s brother, Mark, who came for the ceremony from Colorado, and sister, Carol, who came from Cheyenne, did two of the liturgical readings.

Bishop Ricken then gave his sermon. He opened with a litany of thanks given individually to bishops, priests and former and new staff. But after that, he launched into a talk that had little of the formality of the sermon he’d given the night before, at a vespers service in Howard.

Ricken recalled how, after his ordination as bishop, he was driving from Pueblo, Colo., to his new assignment in Cheyenne. He said he was listening, as he drove, to Andrea Bocelli singing Mozart’s “Ave Verum,” when he found himself wondering what kind of music people in Wyoming listened to.

“I switched on the radio, and this is what I heard,” Ricken said, then broke into song: “Pour me another cup of coffee/For it is the best in the land/And put a nickel in the jukebox/And play the truck driving man.”

After the laughter died, Ricken said he understood he was shifting cultures in his move to Wisconsin, where “I understand there’s a famous football team … It reminds me of another song.”

And Ricken sang: “Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life/End over end neither left nor to right/Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights/Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.”

After the laughter, Ricken said Bobby Bare's 1967 country hit actually carried “a certain profundity,” and he used it as a springboard into a sermon focused on St. Augustine’s search for and discovery of meaning through Christ’s teachings.

He also referenced the earlier Gospel readings by his siblings by invoking the congregation to “stir into flame the gift of God” and to become “oaks of justice, planted by the Lord to show his glory.”

He ended the sermon with “God bless you and let the drop kick begin.”
From the local TV, video, and the hometown Press-Gazette offers photo galleries of last night's Vespers service and the installation liturgy itself...

...and lest anyone want to hear the song that stole the show, knock yourself out:

PHOTO: Evan Siegle/Green Bay Press-Gazette