I am back from fishing and after a long day in the office found myself on a plane to South Bend and the University of Notre Dame. I had been invited to celebrate the graduation Mass, give out the certificates which precede the diplomas and preach for the seventeen members of the ECHO group who are graduating and those returning this week-end for their second year in their dioceses and those who will be beginning their two year service in the dioceses of the country starting, well tomorrow for some. We have had the privilege of three ECHO students in our diocese for the past two years who are graduating today: Anthony Paz who served at St. Jude Cathedral, Katie Muller who served at St. Paul parish and Holy Family parish, and Ellen Voegele who served at Blessed Trinity parish. Anthony is from Eureka, California and graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, Katie is a graduate of Marquette University and is from the Chicago area and Ellen is from Batavia, Ohio and graduated from Marian College in Indianapolis. The two young women are returning to continue to serve at Blessed Trinity as Director of Faith Formation and St. Paul’s as High School Youth Minister and Middle School Religion teacher and Anthony is joining the staff of St. Luke’s parish in McLean as Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation. Congratulations and gratitude and appreciation is extended to these three wonderful young people for their educational and pastoral accomplishments during the last to years of ECHO. When they are in the diocese of St. Petersburg, Brian Lemoi, the Director of Religious Formation is their mentor and thanks are also due to him. Father Joseph Waters attended the ceremonies in South Bend for Anthony who served one year with the new pastor of the Cathedral.
Happily, their places will be taken by three new ECHO representatives serving at Holy Family parish in St. Petersburg, at St. Jerome parish in Indian Rocks Beach and at Espiritu Santo parish in Safety Harbor. ECHO at Notre Dame is an activity of the Center for Catechetical Initiatives which itself is a part of the Department of Theology. During their two years in the program, its participants called “apprentice catechetical leaders” experience four important dimensions of growth: academic formation leading to a Master’s degree, professional ministerial formation, communal formation, and spiritual formation.
Our liturgy was lovely and what great readings for the Mass this week-end. One can count on the fingers of both hands the number of times in a three year cycle when all three readings can be tied together thematically and this is one of them. It was a great Saturday for me and for the ECHO program. Tomorrow I fly to Orlando for a meeting with my brother bishops of Florida. Who says summer is a time of rest and relaxation. In fourteen years I think I can prove that summer only sees a slight decrease in activities in our Church.
Some readers have asked me to comment when I return on how successful I was at “fishing” the last few weeks. I caught nothing as my friends would expect but it was relaxing.
I was out-of-town when George Steinbrenner died and I regret that I could not be present to his family at the time of their great loss. I knew him as a very generous and great man whose love for his children and grandchildren was exceptional. He was generous to a number of Catholic institutions (the Academy of the Holy Names and St. Cecilia school to name two) and very generous in this community. I loved being with him as he constantly teased me about the high school which I graduated from in Columbus, Ohio (St. Charles) while he was coaching at our arch-rival, Aquinas High School. More than the Yankees should be mourning his loss. His heart was larger than his reputation was occasionally controversial. Rest in peace, good friend of the Bay area and great head of a family.
Finally, you should be reading new entries several times a week in the coming month. I missed the discipline which this exercise requires. It is nice to be back.
Update 8/5/10: Anthony went to Amherst College, not the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.