THE THREE-QUARTER POLE
To my beloved brothers, the priests of the diocese, thank you for your unfailing kindness to and patience with me the last fifteen years. To the deacons of this local Church, your sacrifice and service is beyond admirable. To the religious women and men, you have set the highest standard of love and service to Jesus through your ministry throughout the years and I am privileged to call you my friends. To the Catholic people of the five counties of the diocese, I began my service to and with you by recounting that marvelous line from the spiritual hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus” and fifteen years later I can add what friends Jesus shares with me in all of you whose witness, dedication, presence and love have enlightened my life over the last fifteen years.
Today I am passing the three-quarter pole and in a few months will round the final turn of 70 years of age and can set my sight on the finish line and the end of the race which has been my episcopal ministry to and with all of you. There is still a race to be won and I do not intend to let up on the reins in my hands until there is someone else in the saddle to lead and see this great thoroughbred of a Church to yet another lap. To those whom I have disappointed and hurt, and there surely are some, I deeply apologize, will try to do better by you, but assure you that relief is no longer that far away.
The past fifteen years have been a privilege I did not deserve but thank you so much for sharing your lives and your faith with me and, if God wills it, we can continue the love affair begun fifteen years ago today.