With this most resonant and evocative of PopeTrips now wrapping up – and even as the next term's hurdles are already well before us (and Texas is owed a delayed "field-trip") – it finally feels like the "end of school" is nearing 'round these parts.
Still, there's business to finish – tomorrow, the Stateside church's transition docket winds up for the summer with the ord/installation of Greensburg's long-awaited fifth bishop: the Harrisburg pastor now-formerly known, chainsaw and all, as "Father Ed."
Already lauded by the new crowd, his "humility" blared in headlines – and a powerful testimony of finding faith on the record – Ed Malesic inherits an American Catholic outpost as devout as Western Pennsylvania's coal mines run deep... yet with it, a place now feeling just as blasted through amid tough times over recent years; all around, a church hurting to a degree it arguably never needed nor deserved.
Lest anyone forgot, in all things history is the greatest teacher. And so it was that some 11 years ago, Bishop Anthony Bosco proved eerily prophetic in opening his successor's ordination by quoting his own mentor's adage that "it's dangerous to travel through a diocese on the day of a new bishop's arrival," as "one risks the danger of being hit by the pictures of his predecessor being thrown from rectory windows."
Even for the warning in this instance, alas, Bosco isn't here to repeat the line – once USCCB communications chair on the wider scene and a beloved shepherd at home, the bishop died suddenly at 85 two years ago last week, the Pirates game on TV and his constant companion, Joshua II (read: "2," not "the second") at his side.
Maybe especially given his absence, that the chair Bosco left – a seat since remade in grand form by the now-retiring Bishop Lawrence Brandt – now falls to a figure whose quiet yet palpable goodness, love of people and sense of humor so clearly echo that of our lost friend is a cause of joy and hope for Greensburg's good folks and their future. But even as Bosco's number still holds a place in this scribe's phone, we'd be remiss if this vigil weren't led by the legacy he so dearly loved, the people whose voices he formed and sent forward.
Ergo, given the third bishop's famous last word in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, tonight our stage belongs to his proteges: the wild child of the Greensburg clergy – Fr Bob Lubic, the celebrated "Punk Priest" now pastoring three parishes there – and Bosco's spiritual daughter, our very own Nicki Sbaffoni, to bring their home-church back to the start....