Tenth Anniversary Mass
Sacred Heart Cathedral
August 4, 2016 - Feast of Saint John Vianney
A couple of weeks ago, some colleagues at the Catholic Center and I were looking at photos from ten years ago when I first arrived here in the Diocese of Raleigh. Believe it or not, I have aged! In fact, while still looking at the photos, I turned to my colleagues and said somewhat humorously: “Look what you have done to me!”
For my personal reflection upon these ten years, I changed the phrase and addressed it to the Lord: “Look what you have done for me!”
In the midst of my limitations, the Lord called and sent me ten years ago to be the bishop of this vibrant diocese. How blessed I was He allowed my dear parents to be present for that ceremony. They always had good instincts and said to me later that day: “You are in good hands.” They were correct!
Throughout these ten years, the Lord has blessed me with the fraternal support of wonderful priests, whose missionary zeal and generous service continue to inspire me. The Lord has surrounded me with dedicated deacons, consecrated religious, seminarians, colleagues and the faithful witness of the laity throughout this diocese including our young people who bring such joy to my heart. At this Mass, I give thanks to God for the gift all of you are to me.
Upon reflecting upon all that the Lord has done for me, I am in awe of how He has sustained me with His grace, especially when I felt overwhelmed; when I doubted my abilities to accomplish what He was asking; and when I met some challenges and setbacks. Yet, is that not what the Lord does for all of us as our First Reading proclaimed----providing us with the strength and the help we need and upon which we must rely. No wonder Saint John Vianney, whose Feast we celebrate today, tells us that one of our glorious duties is “to pray” and to do so with deep trust in God’s providence.
Our other glorious duty, according to St. John Vianney, is “to love.” which is the mandate of Jesus as conveyed in today’s Gospel. The Lord who does so much for us asks so little in return. What he does ask is that we love God and one another. More than ever our church and our nation need to see the love we have for one another and the unity that is ours in the Holy Name of Jesus and as bishop/priests as brothers and sisters in Christ. May these be promises we renew today.
There is much work to be done as together we seek to proclaim the Gospel of Life in all the corners of our diocese and to be instruments of the Lord’s love and mercy, especially to all those who need us the most. Going forward, I will probably show continued signs of aging----but not because of being worried and anxious—because I truly believe I am in “good hands” as I rely on your collaboration and prayers and most especially as I renew my commitment today to entrust my life and the needs of our diocese to the intercession of Saint John Vianney, the help of our Blessed Mother and the divine assistance of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever.