On Monday I visited the city of Biloxi, Mississippi for the first time and it had nothing to do with gambling. A friend of mine, Auxiliary Bishop Roger P Morin of New Orleans was installed that afternoon as the third bishop of Biloxi. Bishop Morin and I became friends during the runup to the 1987 papal visit to New Orleans where he served as archdiocesan coordinator and helped me cope with the then archbishop, Philip Hannan who is still alive and was present at the installation at age 96. Visiting Biloxi reminded me of the incredible generosity of the people of this diocese in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was able to send about $250,000 to then Bishop Thomas Rodi for use in getting the Church back up and running and over a million dollars collected to Catholic Charities USA who helped those affected by the storm rebuild their lives. Evidence is everywhere in Biloxi still of the power of storm surge and its devastating effects. St. Michael’s parish church which is located on the beachfront remains pretty much in shambles although rebuilding is beginning to take shape in earnest. I was both happy for my friend Bishop Morin and proud of the goodness of the people whom I am privileged to serve.
Today (Wednesday) I held my twice annual mandatory meetings of the clergy to discuss matters of special import and interest. The priests are great fun to get together and the Bethany Center is a perfect setting for these meetings. Also, at this time, there is a week-long seminar for priests whom we have identified as soon to become pastors. They are learning the “ropes” and enjoying the camaraderie at the same time. I had dinner with them and then shared my top ten list of things new pastors should NOT do. They are in class all day but seem to be getting a lot out of it.
Had a huge confirmation last night at St. Paul’s parish in Tampa (161 were confirmed) only two hours after getting off the plane from the Biloxi installation. Great story comes with this. After arriving at the Tampa Airport from New Orleans on Southwest, a gentleman approached me and said, “Pardon me, but would you happen to be…….?” “Bishop Lynch, in the flesh, I responded. He gave me his name and said that he was rushing back to attend his child’s confirmation at St. Paul’s. He further said that his wife had given him a hard time for scheduling a meeting in New Orleans on the day of their child’s confirmation and that when he saw me standing in line to board the flight in New Orleans, he text messaged his wife: “Don’t worry, honey, the bishop is on my plane!”