FOURTEEN YEAR LOVE AFFAIR
Fourteen years ago this afternoon (at two ‘clock p.m.) I was ordained and installed as the fourth bishop of St. Petersburg. It was a wonderful moment that I recall every year in a special way on my anniversary date and I recall it at Mass with special prayers of love and thanksgiving for the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the diocese who have embraced me, occasionally and properly upbraided me, but who on the whole have strongly supported my ministry among you. It didn’t take you long to figure out that I was not an ideologue but a mediator looking for common ground; it did not take you long to learn that I preferred a Gospel of ‘HOPE” to a more punitive reading of the same; it did not take you long to realize that I preferred collaboration and consultation to an autocratic style. For most of you this has been just fine. For some I have been a keen disappointment but the genius of our Church governance is that one never has to wait long for another day, another leader, another theory of management and leadership. To those whom I have disappointed be patient, with me and with the Church you love. To those whom I have pleased, continue to pray for me, my health, my spirituality, my peace and serenity with who I am and why God has now left me here, To all of you, regardless, thanks for this fourteen year love affair. Unconditionally and irrefutably I can say fourteen years later, I love you just as much as I did on my ordination day – no, even more.