Notes on the week:
1) Out-of-town obligations often come in clusters. Five days after my return from Chile, I went to Salt Lake City. That trip was for a membership meeting of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry. This brought together diocesan directors of youth ministry from all over the country. Our own Michael Theisen was there along with 150 of his peers. They are full of life and, believe me, they work very hard when they assemble. Work sessions keep them at it from morning until late in the evening.
My specific responsibility was to lead a session on how to maintain hope and commitment during trying times. I had 20 minutes to present some ideas on that theme, and to raise some related questions for another 20 minutes of consideration by the groups. Following the regional discussions, participants were invited to a microphone to express their thoughts and to raise any questions they had for me. I found that 45-minute exchange to be most rewarding. It was honest. It was real. It demonstrated in a beautiful way the youth directors’ love for the faith and the precious young people of the church.
A special bonus of my stay in Salt Lake City was the gracious and generous hospitality of Bishop George Niederauer in whose home I stayed. We had several occasions to talk, and I enjoyed them all very much.
One of the special kindnesses George extended was to give me a tour of their magnificent cathedral, La Madeleine or the Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene. It is truly a beautiful house of worship. La Madeleine was built as a cathedral and has been renovated a few times over the years, most recently about 10 years ago. I found it quite exciting to realize that their work expresses in a truly moving way the values we would like to concretize in the renovation of our Sacred Heart Cathedral. I was pleased to bring home a handsome booklet that describes the work and several photographs that convey a sense of the church’s beauty.
2) I am writing at John F. Kennedy Airport waiting for my return flight to Rochester. I spent the day at 1011 First Avenue in Manhattan, the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of New York, meeting with the bishops of New York state. Each year we meet at this time in January, in late June and in September. We also have a briefer meeting when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in Washington in November.
There were 17 of us present today. At our meeting, presided over by our chair, Cardinal Edward Egan, we covered a range of topics relating to public policy, health care and the financial situation of the New York State Catholic Conference.
As usual, I found it helpful to meet with my brother bishops. All are friends; some, since seminary days. But, I also value the company of peers. We have the same responsibilities, share a lot and understand one another fairly well. I think that all of us, bishops or not, appreciate the opportunity to share our lives and work with peers in this way.
3) Not all of the journeys are over. I have two more out-of-town responsibilities this week. The first is at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. I have been asked to bring the voice of a diocesan bishop to a forum that will explore fruitful avenues of cooperation between bishops and Catholic colleges and universities — especially around such issues as sexual abuse that are sensitive and affect the community at large.
The last such trip for a while will be on Friday evening for a short, but pleasant, visit to Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, Diocese of Buffalo.
The rector, Father Richard Siepka, invited me to preside and preach at a liturgy at which some of the seminarians will be installed in the ministry of reader.
I look forward to the evening as a special opportunity to minister in our mother-diocese of Buffalo. And, it will bring back happy memories to celebrate with Rich, who was a student when I served on the staff of the American College in Rome.
I am going to take a two-week, mid-winter break from “Along the Way.” I’ll be back with you in the February 20 issue of the Catholic Courier. In the meantime, please pray for me, and be assured of my daily prayers for you and your loved ones.
Peace to all.
Notes on the week: