Posts Tagged ‘Florida Catholic’

500th “ANNIVERSARY”

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Typing this 500th blog entry.

This is the 500th “anniversary” of the beginning of this blog, FOR HIS FRIENDS. “Anniversary” is in quotation marks because obviously the blog is not 500 years old but the server which handles this blog informed me that this would be the 500th entry since my first offering in October of 2008. I have been reflecting on this in recent days and thought I would dedicate the “anniversary’ post to what has been, is now, and is to come.

Three things drove me to consider beginning to write a blog. First was the decision to leave the family of the Florida Catholic. As Bishop of St. Petersburg I had at my disposal two ways of communicating with the people of the diocese: my occasional column in the Florida Catholic entitled “Out of the Ordinary” and a five minute spot daily on SPIRIT-FM, the diocesan radio station which we called “On the Air with Bishop Lynch.” In the early days, when I was a lot younger and far more energetic, meeting the weekly deadlines for the paper and recording two weeks of five minute radio programs with Mary Jo Murphy were relatively easy. In the latter case she would pick the topics and I would talk non-stop for five minutes whether I knew much about the subject or not. As time wore on, I sort of wore out. The deadlines for the paper and the recording sessions for the radio program became burdensome. By way of parenthesis, I am an avid listener on SIRIUS/XM radio to Archbishop Dolan’s weekly one hour program entitled “A Conversation with the Archbishop.” Though he probably would not admit it I can tell that there is already some stress in scheduling the time for recording his show and there are now many more “Best of Archbishop Dolan” than originally. I feel his pain.

While I was growing weary I became acquainted for the first time with two places in the “blogosphere”, a place where I had never dared to venture. The first was the “mother of all ecclesial blogs” called Whispers in the Loggia. Every day would conclude with a visit to Whispers where I learned not only things which were about to happen but a very reasonable interpretation of things that had happened. Rocco Palmo, the author of “Whispers” wrote only when he had something to say and did not have to meet deadlines or expectations (I sense life has gotten worse for him as well as he sometimes apologizes for not posting anything for several days). I like to write and I thought to myself, I could do that and only when I want and when I have something I want to share. The second blog to which I was hooked and still am is radically different from the first. Albert VanSchoonderbeek is the Master or Captain of a Holland America Cruise Line ship and for the three months in which he is on duty, he writes an entry in Captain Albert’s Blog each day about life in charge of a vessel. It has lots of nautical information in it which always intrigues me and through his eyes, I feel I have visited almost all of the great ports, oceans, and seas of the world. I don’t know how he does it every day he is on board but he does and I love it. I thought to myself, lots of people might like to know what it is like to be a bishop in today’s Church. Both fountains gave birth to this child. It also helped to have in our employ an incredibly gifted young man, Walter Pruchnik, who worked with the server and was forever at the end of a phone call from me which began with “help.” Walter left diocesan employment and is now in the formation program for the Congregation of  Holy Cross. His place has been taken by Maria Mertens who is also a gift in this endeavor.

I know I will never be a saint recognized by the Church and do not deserve such. But when a bishop writes as much as I have written, there is a lifetime of “fodder” for a devil’s advocate. Initially I received a lot of comments but when it became clear that this blog was to be a positive place and not another source within the Church for disputatiousness, calumny, slander, internecine warfare within the Church, the comment opportunity is now utilized mainly by people who express their gratitude, support, and occasionally a proper correction. It was a good decision to keep the comments private. Today’s Church does not need another outlet for complaints and criticism.

Most of what I write about pertains to our situation in this diocese and does not have national interest. One blog entry on the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin made it into Origins and other Catholic publications and a number have been used by other authors in the blogosphere, including the “mother of all ecclesial blogs.” I write for the people I love and serve and not for a larger constituency.

There has been a lot of affirmation along the way and I know that many people of different ages read the blog. We have a limited access to information on the number of hits, how often and how long they stay on, and where they are from. All encourage me to keep at it. I find writing cathartic but only when I am in the mood. Thus, a blog which has no deadlines and sets no demands is perfect for me. There have been 1138 days since my first blog entry in 2008 and today marks the 500th entry so the well is not running dry, yet. Tomorrow there will be a posting about my Mass with judges and attorneys in Tampa this noon but today I am merely waltzing through 500 posts. Thank you to the readers, thanks to the inspirers, thanks also to my colleagues in IT over the last three years. But the greatest thanks are reserved today to you wonderful people of the diocese wh0 are often the inspiration for these random thoughts about life in our Church today. It is a great Church. It is a great diocese. It is great to be your bishop. Now it is on to 1000.

+RNL

CONSULTATIVE BODIES

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The law of the Church allows a bishop of a diocese a “lot of room to roam” on his own without constraints, if he is so foolish as to do so. Canon Law (the aforementioned “law of the Church”) requires the bishop to have several bodies who have limited jurisdiction over a bishop’s actions. The first of those bodies is called “The College of Consultors” and these are priests whom the bishop selects to serve as something of his senior cabinet. There are a few matters which require a positive vote of the college of consultors and these are mainly financial. “The Presbyteral Council” is also required by the Code of Canon Law in every diocese and it is made up of priests who are elected by their peers as well as appointees by the bishop. This Council meets in this diocese five times a year and is an important sounding board for me in charting a course and direction for this local Church. The third body required by the Code of Canon Law is a “Diocesan Finance Council” which here is made up of about fifteen lay women and men with expertise and personal success in finance, accounting and investing to which a few pastors are added and they advise on all things financial. They meet six times a year here. For fifteen years I have been nothing but blessed by having a wise and prudent Diocesan Finance Council. Finally, there is a “Diocesan Pastoral Council” not required by law but which is comprised of two priests and women and men from all five of our counties. Many of the matters which come before the Presbyteral Council will also be discussed by the Diocesan Pastoral Council and it was their advice that suggested that THE FLORIDA CATHOLIC might no longer be the most cost-effective and communications-effective way of remaining in contact with God’s people.

The very existence of these bodies guarantees absolutely nothing. It is up to the local bishop in his diocese to determine how, how often and what these bodies deal with. I think most of those who have been engaged with me for the last fifteen years would say that only substantive matters are brought for discussion and decision and rarely is the advice of these consultative bodies rejected by myself. Now collaboration and consultation at this level takes time. Many of the issues which the Presbyteral Council deals with are of a nature that further soundings need to be taken among the whole presbyterate and that occurs more at the local level of the seven deaneries in the diocese. When this happens, there will be two readings of something under consideration and since the Council itself meets every other month except for the summer, there is a built in delay.

I would say that the Church in the United States is moving away from the commitment to collegiality and shared responsibility which marked the ’70’s and ’80’s. Some of this movement has been occasioned by the very long and strong pontificate of Pope John Paul II and that of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. Both have occasionally made (make) decisi0ns affecting the Church universal with minimal if any consultation with the world’s hierarchy, which is their right as our universal pastor. The Church never has been a democracy and therein is probably the reason we have lasted as long as we have despite human deficiency.

Where collegiality, shared responsibility and consultation will go in the future is pure speculation but here in the diocese of St. Petersburg if something major happens which has been initiated by myself, you can pretty much go to the bank that a lot of others have been involved in the discussion leading up to it. My admittedly biased judgment at this point is that while it might have taken a longer time period of gestation, the delivery and birth of the ideas have been and will be more happily received.

+RNL

BLOGGERY

Monday, May 24th, 2010

As regular readers can tell, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with a wider audience through the use of this blog. It first came into being when it was clear that the diocese would be leaving the newspaper era and investing more in time and talent in the “on-line” opportunities. The FLORIDA CATHOLIC which was read by a very small segment of our Catholic population cost the diocese and the parishes something near $650,000 per year, its subscription and circulation list was in decline and it was “touched” (which does not mean read) by only 20% of those receiving it. It was useful, kept us informed on coming events in the diocese, nation and world and reported on what had recently happened. I miss it, I must confess. But print journalism, at this moment, is in decline and so the Church must seek other ways of communicating and this blog has merely been one of those ways in our local Church communicates (see the Diocesan website www.dosp.org and podcast, the Living Eucharist website LivingEucharist.org, the Vocations website spvocation.org, and the Ministries of Mercy website mom.dosp.org).

When I started, Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston had begun a once a week personal blog and I have always enjoyed reading what His Eminence posts. Since I had originally begun writing for the FLORIDA CATHOLIC a weekly column (entitled mind you, “Out of the Ordinary”), I thought blogging would be an interesting adventure. I knew right away that I did not wish to enter disputatious argumentation so the comments received would only be read by myself. I also promised myself that I would never use this blog to attack in any way any single person or to speak terribly ill of any single person or groups of persons. I challenge you to go back through the year and a half of these entries and find one. However, those who comment on the blog are clearly not bound by any bond of charity and I would say about ten per cent of the comments make me cringe to think that the writer might profess the faith which Jesus left. But I don’t mind it and if people feel better because they unload their anger on any blog writer, myself included, then so be it.

Blogs generally have no responsibility to the truth. Many of them reflect the deep divisions and polarizations present in society today. They are meant to be controversial, to stir up emotions, and in some instances to tear down people and/or institutions. Yet some clearly navigate the waters carefully, reporting, challenging in a Christ-like manner, generating thoughtful reflections and moving people like myself to delve deeper into the real meaning of events and insights. There are some wonderful blogs about matters of our Catholic faith and I for one have gained much more insight from them in recent years and I was from the journalistic printed word or radio and television with their brief segment approach to the most complicated of issues.

On judgment day, there may be a special line in which we “bloggers” must stand before hearing those words, “well done good and faithful servant” or its terrifying opposite. For my part, I will continue to offer my reflections on life in the Church today until something more effective comes along but I am committed to kindness and reserving judgment. To those who have proffered comments, thanks. Some of you have seen that I have listened and responded in later entries without so identifying that the change or nuance in my thinking has originated with a specific comment. It has been suggested that the comment part of this bishop’s blog should be eliminated but I learn from your insights just as I hope you learn from mine. “Bloggery” like flattery may ultimately get us nowhere but it can be fun too.

OH MY GOSH!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

As they often say on Sunday afternoon between 350pm and 415pm, but slightly paraphrased from the NFL games, “We would like to welcome those people who have been watching the Church in the US and the world through Whispers in the Loggia to our humble little commentary on a great local Church, the Diocese of St. Petersburg.” If this is the first time you have taken a peep at this blog, maybe a small introduction would help. For the first nine or ten years I was here as bishop, I communicated on a regular basis with the people of the diocese in two ways: with a daily radio program of five minutes of something less than pearls of great wisdom entitled “On the Air with Bishop Lynch” on our powerful and gifted 100,000 watt SPIRIT FM. Then I also wrote a fairly regular column for the diocesan edition of the FLORIDA CATHOLIC entitled “Out of the Ordinary.” The paper is no longer a part of our diocesan communications opportunities. After ten years of deadlines for submission to the paper and recording sessions, I was fairly worn out and found myself writing and talking about what I and others considered minutiae of Catholic Church life.

The electronic media began to catch my attention and this blog, soon to celebrate its first anniversary, is the result. I write only when I have something to share or teach. The average time it takes me to prepare a 500 word blog entry is between 20 and 30 minutes (sometimes they read like “haste makes waste”) and there is only the moment when the muse suggests I write, not a deadline. Do I reach as many people as the former column and radio show – not even close, but “hits” on this blog were rising until my five week confinement in late July and August. Now in recuperation, I am beginning to get my energy back and have time, lots of time every day, to share reflections on our lives as Catholics.

I read your comments personally but do  not answer them because in some instances I wish to avoid useless polemics and in other instances some are very personal to the person who comments. Many have offered me new perspectives in challenging pastoral problems.

Now some news. Bishop-elect Etienne has asked me to deliver the homily at his episcopal ordination on December 9th in Cheyenne. I am grateful to Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, of Denver who as the principal consecrator  has allowed me this privilege. Most of my diocesan family remember that in the year of his death, 1996, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin preached at my episcopal ordination. I am not much more agile at this moment than the Cardinal was that January 26th but it will be a labor of love.

I promised myself and my doctors that I would not make trips outside of the diocese until after my ileostomy is reversed soon after the first of the year, but I will make an exception in this instance. I will be unable to attend the November Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore but should be back to full form to welcome the USCCB to St. Petersburg in June for their special assembly.

Finally, John Barry of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES does a second wonderful job in four days in today’s paper’s coverage of the Holy See’s announcement about the offer to the Anglican Communion. I could take no exception to his conclusions. I will return to this topic myself in a few days when by mind is better capable of dealing with what was for myself a total surprise.

+RNL

MORNING HAS BROKEN ….BLACKBIRD HAS SPOKEN

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Fridays I try to reserve for myself but today is not going to be one of  those days, th0ugh I do hope I can get to my first RAYS game tonight. Some general responses to comments which many of you have taken the time to share with me over the past weeks and months. It is impossible for me to respond to all of them but some response seems apropos. I do not consider this a blog, as you know, where comments are posted. I read them, take them seriously, sometimes respond to them generically without publishing them specifically.

First, thanks to all who read this blog. The number of people visiting each day is on a steady increase and I know that many check it out intermittently. We can tell where the readers are from (general location) and how long they remain on the blog site (the longer time usually means someone comes intermittently and thus takes more time to read its contents). I do  not consider it my duty to blog every day although sometimes it may appear that way.

I was pleasantly surprised at the response level of support in favor of the position of restraint which I tried to take on the Notre Dame graduation issue. Thank you for that and thanks also to those who respectfully disagreed. From the beginning all I hoped for was a civilized discussion/debate.

One reader mentioned the loss of THE FLORIDA CATHOLIC and asked what we were planning as a vehicle for delivering “news” of the diocese, especially clergy assignments, etc. We hope our web page will be the major manner of communicating to all who can access it through the electronic media.

That so many of you loved the ordination of Father Melchior brought a return of tears of gratitude and happiness. Also, the blog on the virtue of hope seems to have struck a responsive chord in a number of readers.

So let me end with some good news for a change. The vocations to the priesthood picture brightens considerably this year as we have accepted about eight  into the seminary to join the twenty-four we currently have. For the first time since 1988 we have more than thirty seminarians and this year will be the third best year for the number of seminarians since 1984. Thirty-nine is the highest number in the forty year history of the diocese (1983-84). I attribute that grace to several factors: God’s blessings and favor, a good vocation director who works the job hard, and the quality of our present seminarians who attract those discerning a vocation. It also helps that only Father Carl Melchior left the seminary this Spring (understand that properly now!) while for the first time in my memory, all others are remaining in formation for next year. Finally, your prayers help a lot. The media this morning is filled with a story of a priest who felt he needed to leave the Church of his ordination. Not enough attention is paid to those who choose to remain and serve. Soon, if it is God’s will, there may be more of them.

+RNL

WISE COUNCIL

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Diocesan Pastoral Council met yesterday (Saturday) at the Bethany Center for its final time prior to the summer recess. We had a long discussion of the state of Catholic education in the diocese and I found the input of almost all on the Council who spoke to be both wise and occasionally profound. The Diocesan Pastoral Council is presently composed of twenty-five representatives from across the five counties of the diocese. In additional to geographical representation from each of the seven deaneries, the priests, religious sisters, religious brothers, youth, multi-cultural, deacons all have places at the table. It took me a long time to organize a diocesan pastoral council and now that I have had the benefit of their wisdom and insights, I regret the delay in many ways.

The law of the Church (Canon Law) does not requite pastoral councils either at the diocesan or parish level. It does require a Finance Council at both levels and for the diocesan Church it requires a Council of Priests and a College of Consultors. In most instances, this same law requires only that the bishop and/or pastor “hear” the advice of these advisory bodies and gthen he can do as hed wishes. To fail to listen and to act against the wisdom of these advisory committees would to my mind be perilous in most instances.

Since its formation the DPC has intensely studied the matter of communications within the diocese and recommended abandoning the FLORIDA CATHOLIC in favor of a greater reliance on electronic communications via the internet and the new diocesan magazine, GATHERED, NOURISHED, SENT. When the present school study is complete, I hope they can turn their attention to matters such as the present decline in Catholics seeking using the sacrament of marriage along with marriage preparation, etc. Out of the lived experience of Catholics will certainly come wise council. You would be proud and pleased with the early work of this dedicated consultative body and I look forward always to our time together.

+RNL

WHERE TO FIND THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR CHURCH?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

From time to time, someone will approach me and ask, “Bishop, where in the media can I find the truth about what is happening in the Church today?” The question usually implies that the secular media’s coverage on the Church tends to focus on the negative or controversial and that even within the Church, there is sufficient polarization that in order to discover a kernel of truth, one has to plow through acres of planted grain.

The question has taken on significant import in recent weeks in certain sectors of the Church and with certain people because of the situation involving Notre Dame and Georgetown and the President of the United States. My take on all this is that the secular media quickly became disinterested and considered it an intramural fight and that most of the Catholic media and press considered it “interesting but not seismic.” Where the controversy remains, it is among a small group of strong-willed and strong-minded people but the debate and discussion has not and likely will not effect any change.

If you are reading this “blog” you already must have some computer savvy. I think a balanced picture of what is happening in the Church in the United States can usually be found on the internet at a blog site which I have previously mentioned entitled Whispers in the Loggia. The blog-meister, Rocco Palmo usually presents issues in a balanced manner and, I would say, reacts from a firm, healthy and good ecclesial perspective. He has good sources and is amassing a terrific understanding of the Church, how it operates, and what things mean. I do not find him desirous of being just another polarizing voice in the Church, but there is a lot of the journalist and occasionally the “gossip columnist” here.

Catholic News Service (CNS) is another reliable source of information on the Church in this country and in the world. Many of their “takes” on current situations can also be accessed through web portals like that of The Florida Catholic. Remember, they are a “wholesaler” of news items, not the retailer. They occasionally get into difficulty with one bishop or another because of that reality when the bishop or other critic thinks they have an obligation to “spin” a news item favorably toward the Church. They are like the AP, sending raw stories to customers who will choose either to pursue, comment upon or ignore this or that item.

The Holy See has a web-site that allows access to both the Italian daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which publishes only in Italian or the weekly English language edition.

I don’t pay a great deal of attention to other news services because they have a mission to shade their transmissions to meet their own goals and objectives.

The internet is becoming the major portal for information on the Church and here one needs to be careful and skeptical. Bloggers like myself need to be read through the prism of fact versus opinion and information versus polemic. This blog is meant to share my opinions, insights, thoughts and commentaries on local, national and international issues facing the Church. You need to read it that way.

There are several weekly, monthly and quarterly  Church publications which I subscribe to and which serve my personal longing for information and intellectual challenge well, but I shall not list them because what satisfies my thirst and curiosity may not be the next person’s cup of tea.

In the end, there is something credible for everyone to be found beyond the secular media and if you are reading this on your computer, you can find them on the same computer with a little patience.

+RNL

What is our bishop doing “blogging”?

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

A few weeks ago I mentioned in my final “Out of the Ordinary” column in the last St. Petersburg Diocesan edition of the Florida Catholic that I would soon be writing my own “blog” as a new and different way of communicating with the people of the Diocese. A “blog” as I understand it is something like a column in the newspaper except that it is transmitted electronically only to those who choose to read it and it allows for “feedback” from those who read it. I intend to add entries to my blog fairly regularly and some will be newsy and some will be more like opinion pieces. For the week beginning on Monday, November 10th I will be writing and commenting on the Fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. There are two days of public sessions and then one day plus of Executive Session where the members alone discuss matters of concern to us and which are confidential by their very nature.

I became convinced that this might be a good way of communicating when I became “hooked” on the “mother of all Catholic blogs” which is entitled “Whispers in the Loggia.” My material will certainly be less scintillating and my sources will be largely my own mind and intuition but I hope this effort will be as interesting to you as “Whispers” has become to many Church-watchers.

So that’s the intention.  I only hope that I will find the effort worth the time and satisfactory to me while helpful to you.

+RNL

¿Qué es lo que está haciendo nuestro Obispo “blogging”?

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Hace muy pocas semanas les mencioné en mi último artículo de la edición Diocesana del Florida Catholic que pronto comenzaría a escribir mi propio “blog,’ el cual me proporcionará una forma diferente de comunicación con la gente de la Diócesis. Por lo que tengo entendido, escribir un “blog” es como escribir una columna en el diario, con la excepción de que este es transmitido electrónicamente a aquellos que elijen leerlo y por medio de él nos permite recibir “opiniones” de aquellos que lo leen. Mi intención es escribir regularmente a mi blog, algunos de mis artículos serán noticias y otros mi opinión. Empezando el lunes 10 de noviembre, escribiré y comentaré acerca de la Reunión de Otoño de la Conferencia Católica de Obispos de los Estados Unidos. Durante esta reunión, habrá dos días de sesiones públicas y más de un día y medio para la sesión Ejecutiva donde los miembros discutirán, a solas, temas de preocupación y otros de naturaleza confidencial. (more…)

A special goodbye to the Florida Catholic

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

This marks the final time that my thoughts and words will appear in the Diocese of St. Petersburg edition of the Florida Catholic. When I first arrived, 13 years younger and much more energetic, I loved writing this weekly column and also the five-minute-each-day program with Mary Jo Murphy on Spirit FM 90.5. Time, the aging process and other priorities have seen my commitment to this mode of communication slip away. I shall always be grateful, however, when as a young bishop, these pages and the radio station gave me access to your homes and hearts.

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