THANK GOD IT’S OVER
I suspect that my regular readers are thinking that from the title of the blog, this must have something to do with the Spring meeting of all U.S. bishops being held as I write this in Atlanta. It does not, but the next blog entry will for sure. The title here refers to the fact that on Monday night of this week, I finished my last public event until August, that being the graduation ceremony for seventeen hardy lay people of the diocese who completed their four year study in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute (LPMI) program. More about that, including some photos, in a few moments.
Statistically, I had celebrated the sacrament of confirmation about thirty times this year, had six high school graduations and/or baccalaureate Masses, presided at about five anniversaries of priestly ordination, one priesthood ordination, five geese a laying and a partridge in a pear tree – or something like that. Anyway, it is always a work-out for me beginning right after Christmas and ending sometime each year in mid-June. When I was younger it was a sleigh ride, but as I get older, I must admit it gets tougher. For the future, we are working hard to attempt a confirmation schedule which will utilize Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturdays and Sundays and work very hard to control the number of Sunday requests to one each week. Arranging my schedule is always a challenge for my faithful assistant, Vivi Iglesias, and she tries hard to protect me from too many obligations only to have me approached by a priest and then I stroll up to her and tell her to violate my own admonitions. May is the toughest month for sure. Now, I make no pretense that I work harder than anyone else, especially my hard-working priests. I do suggest, however, that I must travel farther to do what I do and am often out later in the evening.
My illness of three years ago requires that I control food intake until I am almost home each night so there is that and my staff is terrified of me driving around at night, in the dark for heaven’s sake, so they push me to have someone drive me – like Miss Daisy, if you know what I mean. I feel very guilty about having someone drive me and see me back to my residence around 1030pm every evening and then have to drive another thirty or forty-five minutes to their own residence. I have never utilized a priest to assist me as either a full-time secretary,driver, and/or master of ceremonies. I will stick to that as long as I am the bishop. This year our four seminarians on pastoral year met me at the parishes where I was to do something (confirmation, installation, etc.) but they did not drive me. Next year, Father Carl Melchior, our full-time Assistant Vocation Director will help with the driving and MC’ing which he began in earnest a few weeks ago. All of this is a way of publicly admitting that I was thrilled to be done for a few months and can now spend some time thinking about a less demanding schedule and some time away for rest and relaxation. As hard as it can be and as physically demanding as it is, I still love what I do and I hope and pray that is reflected in my presence in the life of this Church.
Now, about the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute and its graduates. Seventeen lay women and men completed the required course of study and it was an honor for me to acknowledge their accomplishment on Monday night. I’ve included a few photos from the Evening Prayer and Commissioning Ceremony below, but you can see more photos by clicking here.
Among those graduating was one judge, one doctor, and three married couples. That they love their Church so much that they would give up all those evenings for four years to journey to the Bethany Center for class is humbling and makes all my ruminations above seem trivial. I get paid to do what I do. They did what they did and do for the love of Christ and His Church. Congratulations, graduates, and may your work on behalf of the Gospel be pleasing to the Lord.