On Tuesday New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan came to our diocese to celebrate the feast day of our patron saint, St. John Fisher, and to honor priests celebrating their silver and gold anniversaries. This was the first time I had the pleasure to hearing Archbishop Dolan in person and to experience his expansive personality. He is a joyful person, even in the midst of difficult questions and times in the church. I was particularly struck by his response to reporters about parishes that face changes in the coming years, especially those that face closing. He said that the church "has to be where the people are." As someone who has worked on and with college campus ministries for a decade that sentiment rang true in a number of ways. On the campus we cannot sit in an office and hope that students find us. We have to go out to the campus and engage people where they are, geographically and spiritually. We can only do that when we keep as our primary purpose as Christians to go and make disciples. When we do that as a community, in our parishes, that means being willing to risk new configurations and methods to accomplish the mission given to us by Christ. It is a freeing message that propels us to seek out the best structures to support the mission, not just the ones we have always used.
Archbishop Dolan also took some time to recognize our own bishop and to express his gratitude to Bishop Clark, who used to be the archbishop’s confessor and spiritual director. During times of change and challenge it is refreshing to see someone publically acknowledge the good that they have seen in another and thankfulness to have such a friend.