Monday, September 19, 2011

In Manchester, "Arise and Walk"

Taken from the Acts of the Apostles, the line cited above just so happens to be Bishop Peter Libasci's motto... and given the toll a rough decade of abuse scandals, church closings and economic tumult has had on New Hampshire's 300,000-member church, the mindset will prove eminently useful as the Long Island native takes the helm of the Manchester diocese.

Asked about the challenge of healing and moving forward at this morning's Appointment Day presser, one local report quoted Libasci as saying that "The most important thing right off the bat is the compassion -- the compassion and the desire to heal, to help restore to heal and to again, rebuild individual lives, family lives, life of the church, life of the community -- it's so important, and that will be a very important part of my life."

Reflecting on his motto, the 59 year-old nominee (shown left on a visit this morning to a local high school) added that "When you're paralyzed by fear, in the name of Jesus Christ, let's try this, we can do this. When we don't know what to do, in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, arise and walk. We can do this.... [T]hat's pretty much what I'm trying to bring. My faith in our Lord, my trust and hope and my knowledge, from experience, that this is what we all want. The goodness of God and the ability to grow together."

While the now-former auxiliary of Rockville Centre spent his entire priesthood in parish work and hasn't known the leadership of a diocese, Libasci's four years as an assistant on his home turf would arguably have provided more than sufficient experience for the task -- on its own, the bishop's Long Island vicariate is home to a considerably larger Catholic population than that of the entire Manchester church. However, the switch from suburban New York to the largely rural, "Live Free or Die" heart of New England should make for enough of a learning curve on its own.

Here, the fulltext of Libasci's prepared remarks on today's announcement:
When in 2007, I was told that I was chosen to be an Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, I was overwhelmed at the thought that anyone knew that I even existed.

And now, four years later, I have been called, yet again, but now to be the Bishop and Shepherd of the Church, the Household of Faith in, what will be for me a new home, a new family, a new beginning in Grace.

I am coming eagerly to the Diocese of Manchester and the State of New Hampshire and I desire so much to meet all of you and to see Christ so alive and so present in you. I desire so much to share in this work that is ours: to be true to and thus carry on the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember well and am thankful for the words of a formula memorized so long ago: Why did God make you? God made me to know Him and to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

The words can be memorized, but we all know that they only take on their greatest meaning and significance when they are put into practice; when they are lived: when we deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, when Holy Eucharist becomes more and more a cause of joy, and when caring for each person’s dignity and well-being is not a labor but true compassion and care for a neighbor.

I am deeply grateful to Bishop McCormack for his years of ministry and faithful witness here in the Diocese of Manchester and his very kind welcome to me.

I am grateful to Almighty God who has brought me into being, to my parents who gave me life and to my family, friends and my Holy Catholic Church – all who have sustained me to this very hour. These include Bishop William Murphy, my diocesan bishop in Rockville Centre, my brother priests and deacons and all the lay faithful I was privileged to serve as priest and bishop in that Diocese since my priestly ordination in 1978.

I am utterly humbled and deeply grateful to Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who has entrusted me with this ministry. I have asked him especially for his prayers that I may fulfill the duties of this Sacred Office to which I have been called as a good shepherd, a good priest and bishop, a good steward in the Household of Faith.

And may the Lord God remember us all in His Kingdom now and forever. Amen
With his appointment, Libasci -- Pope Benedict's first pick to head a New England diocese -- becomes the second Long Islander tapped to lead a local church by the reigning pontiff.

A former personnel chief of the Rockville Centre clergy then serving as rector of St Agnes Cathedral, Msgr Bob Guglielmone was named bishop of Charleston in early 2009.

Like Manchester, the 200,000-member South Carolina church is among the dozen US dioceses that covers a whole state.

SVILUPPO: After delivering the above statement, here's fullvid of Libasci's Q&A at this morning's presser....

PHOTO: Diocese of Manchester/ Facebook(1); Carol Robidoux/Patch(2)