It’s been a pleasure to hear many positive comments about the special supplement in the September Catholic Courier commemorating the 50th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, my 33-year tenure as bishop and my impending retirement. I thank the staff of the Catholic Courier for their excellent work. I thank also the advertisers who helped make it all possible.
You may be interested to know that I did not know much about the content of the special issue until it arrived at home. Of course, I knew it was in the works; and interviewed for two of the articles. But I was unaware of the photo selection, and did not know that a wide range of people had been asked to share their memories.
I can’t tell you what a joy it was to read through the many memories and comments offered by the kind writers. Surely, I enjoyed reading such complimentary comments about myself. Yet the deepest pleasure came from the way the several articles brought me back to different times in my life, to relationships that nourished my growth in a special way, to events and circumstances that strengthened and sometimes deeply challenged my spirit.
Of course, I relished the pieces written by my sister and my five wonderful nieces. When I opened the pages and saw that they each had written something, I gasped. You never know what they’ll say! But I have to admit that I was deeply touched by each of their reflections. The intriguing part is that even if their names had not appeared and all obvious identifying comments had been removed, I would have known who wrote each. I suppose that’s because they wrote what was in their hearts. A footnote: My sister told me that by common agreement the six of them had decided that they would know what the others had written only when they read the paper.
Reading this issue, and ever since then, I have carried in my heart a deep sense of gratitude for the kind ways in which God has molded and shaped my life through the goodness of other people. The young and the old; the wealthy and the impoverished ones; the happy and the sad have all added richness to my life and have left me with a deep sense that I will never be able adequately to thank them all.
That may be one of the gifts of the "emeritus" years — to have more time for prayer of all kinds. I do look forward to that, and hope to spend a good deal of time in prayer for the continued health and well-being of this diocese that has been at the heart of my life for so many years.
Thanks again to the Catholic Courier staff, advertisers, contributors and to the many who have enjoyed the special issue. You all favored me with a beautiful sense of the flow of life in the past, and with a sense of delight about the future.
Peace to all.