THEY CAME TO SERVE, NOT TO BE SERVED
There are many occasions in the life of a bishop which bring great happiness and I can not and will not offer a “litany” of those occasions today or give a taxative list. Obviously ordinations, the Rite of Election, the Chrism Mass rank right up there. In this diocese, however, today was one of those better moments when at St. Jude’s Cathedral I conferred the St. Jude the Apostle Award on 76 great people of this diocese.
Shortly after I arrived I began to take “soundings” as to how an annual award to a person from each parish chosen by the pastor and/or the parish council would be received. Initially there was some concern on the part of the priests which was quite understandable: I don’t want to have to pick a person; they are all great; how do I pick just one person? What happens when the parish and I run out of candidates? I indicated that this tradition if we began it would continue annually and everyone would have an opportunity to be honored. I had in mind then and now that no one should receive the award who thought they deserved it. Rather it was recognition for all those people who generously and tirelessly, day after day and week after week give themselves in dedicated service to their parish and in one case, to the diocese or its programs. Pastors have grown to appreciate the opportunity and the recipients seem humbled and honored and occasionally even embarrassed.
I wanted the award to be something substantial so I asked an artist from Milan, Italy who did a great deal of work for the Holy See to design what is essentially a medal for me. Dottore Enrico Manfrini (among other things, he designed for Pope Paul VI the pastoral staff shaped like a processional cross which he, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II and until recently Pope Benedict XVI carried at Mass) designed the medal which on its face carries a picture of what we think St. Jude the Apostle, patron of our diocese, might have looked like and on the back the diocesan coat-of-arms.
We gather once a year on the Solemnity of Christ the King at the Cathedral for Evening Prayer and the Presentation of the Award. Each recipient has their picture taken with me and their pastor. I am including the first two photos to be attached to this blog which shows the medal and you may wish to check our diocesan web page for a list of this year’s recipients. I congratulate again those magnificent women and men who are the 2008 Recipients of the St. Jude the Apostle Diocesan Award.