Thursday, October 16, 2008

For Shock Coadjutor, a Warm Welcome

Even though -- by his own admission -- Bishop Bernard Harrington "want[s] to get out tomorrow" and make good on his already-set retirement plans, the Winona prelate was just the first of many left scratching their heads over the appointment of Bishop John Quinn as his coadjutor a month past his 75th birthday:
It's common for incoming and outgoing bishops to serve side-by-side, but that arrangement usually ends once the outgoing bishop turns 75, said Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

"I can't think of a single parallel case in recent memory," Briel said. "It's surprising that he (Quinn) wasn't simply brought in to replace Bishop Harrington."

Exactly how long the overlap will last isn't clear.

"I want to get out tomorrow, but John says, 'Why don't you stay around for two years?'" Harrington said at a news conference Wednesday. "The pope's representative says six months. So we have to negotiate someplace between there when this is going to take place."

Like Briel, Diocese of Winona spokeswoman Rose Hammes was surprised by the Vatican's transition arrangement.

"We've been trying to figure that ourselves, to be honest," she said. "This is very unusual."
And at yesterday's first-presser, the "two Motown bishops" who ended up in southern Minnesota had a lovefest:
“I come to you with an open heart,” Quinn, 62, said Wednesday morning after being introduced to the press and public at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. He thanked Bishop Harrington for his warm welcome and for his years of service to the church of Winona. “I am following someone who is very loved,” he said.

Responding to questions, Quinn declined to characterize himself politically. He described himself as “a man of the church” who “follows the church and its teachings,” seeking to “extend the love of Christ out into the world.”

He described himself as a collaborative leader, whose decisions are formed by prayer. “Always begin with prayer,” tempered by patience, he said, “Nothing ever happens quickly,” concluding that a large part of leadership was waiting “to see what God wants.”

Asked about the major issues facing the church he would seek to address, Quinn pointed to three areas: the faith formation of church members, to help them “grow in the desire to live the Gospel;” the nurturing of vocations; and connecting with and meeting the needs of young people.

Quinn said that over the past decade, he has seen an ever greater involvement by the laity in church leadership and in all areas of ministry. “What a blessing,” he said.

Harrington echoed Quinn’s comments encouraging vocations and reaching out to young people. Winona is a “dynamic diocese” facing the challenges brought by a changing population, he said. The growth of the traditionally Catholic Latino population poses a particular challenge to the church to reach out and serve its needs -- a challenge not unlike the church faced and met when European immigrants flooded into this country in the early years of the last century.

Harrington also noted the need to strengthen stewardship within the church, to encourage people to be generous with their “treasure, time and talent.” The people of the diocese have been responsive, he said, but church institutions -- the schools in particular -- face ongoing financial challenges in a slumping economy.

Calling him “a wise man,” Harrington was enthusiastic about turning over the diocese he has led since 1999 to a longtime friend and colleague. “He lives the Gospel as well as proclaims the Gospel,” Harrington said. Bishop Quinn, he said, was a pastor and theologian possessed of an “unbelievable love for pastoral ministry” and a deep and abiding love for the poor. “The Diocese of Winona is blessed to have Bishop Quinn as the new coadjutor bishop,” he said....

Harrington plans to soon move out of the house at the corner of Main and Sanborn streets he has called home for the past 10 years. “The new bishop doesn’t need the old bishop as a roommate,” he said.
Still living in the diocese is its fifth ordinary, Bishop Loras Watters, who turned 93 on Tuesday; Quinn and Harrington were slated to make a visit once the Appointment Day formalities wrapped.

PHOTO: Katie Derus/Winona Daily News