Posts Tagged ‘Walter C. Pruchnik III’


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.



Thursday, July 21st, 2011

In two weeks I will celebrate Mass for our diocesan seminarians prior to their return to their respective seminaries. Then we have dinner and  I give the men an opportunity to dialogue with me about anything which they wish to bring up. Temerity does still somewhat rule the moment but more and more the softball questions are giving way to the curveballs and it is a give and take which I enjoy and look forward to. I think the latest count stands somewhere around thirty-three for the seminary this year with two at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, one at the North American College in Rome and the rest at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

However, often lost in these reflections are the men who are studying for priesthood within religious orders and congregations. Perhaps overlooked because we often are not informed of those who choose religious life, they are nonetheless a blessing from God and the diocese to the Church. I know of two men studying for the Society of Jesus (there may be more) and one for the Franciscans. I am sure that by the time of the convocation of seminarians, I will have heard from parents and others of still more.

As often happens in my blog composition, all of this is by way of foreward to another thing I wish to share with you. If any reader has been to a liturgy which I have celebrated the past three years, the odds are 9 to 1 that you noticed a young man assisting me, the servers and the pastor and associates of the parishes. Unflappable, always kind to the servers, and incredibly helpful in celebrating a good liturgy, this young man has also served the diocese as its “webmaster”, the mastermind of the technical details of my blog, and more often than not, my driver (something I resisted for twelve years until one day at lunch I mentioned to my closest collaborators that I noticed that coming back from evening confirmations I would often find myself daydreaming and miss the Fourth Street North exit off the Howard Franklin to my home). That did it and they went on a search for a multi-talented person who could do something in the diocese which was useful, drive and assist me with ceremonies, and be unfailingly helpful to the parishes where we would be going.

Walter C. Pruchnik III had been an ACE teacher at St. Petersburg Catholic following his graduation from Notre Dame University and a year following the conclusion of his time with us as a teacher, he was looking for something to do as a transition, perhaps to marriage or to religious life.  He applied, was hired and has assisted me for three years. Girl altar servers will remember the handsome young “priest” who helped the fat, balding bishop. Walter leaves the diocese today to begin a year of discernment for the Congregation of Holy Cross at his beloved Notre Dame. If all goes well and God and the community call him, he will enter the Novitiate in Colorado next summer for a year and then theology studies leading to ordination. Most of the priests of this diocese would second my conclusion that the Holy Cross Fathers are lucky to be getting Walter as a candidate. He so loves his alma mater and the community that founded it, that neither the Vocation Directors nor I have put a lot of pressure on him to think about diocesan priesthood but he will always be welcome should he choose to come here. He has been thoroughly private and professional in his time here and with me and I am so incredibly grateful for his dedication to his work, his love of the Church, and his loyalty to me. I think for purpose of our prayers, we should promise to include Walter in them every time we pray for those studying for priesthood and the religious life. Thank you Walter, blessings and happiness to you at Moreau Seminary this year and next, go Irish, and it has been a wonderful ride. May Notre Dame our mother intercede with her son for you and for all of us you leave behind.