Well, my friends, August was a busy month, and also very productive.  In the coming weeks, we will “launch” several new initiatives.  This month, we will convene a new Priest Council as well as a new Diocesan Pastoral Council.  As you may guess by the name, the priest council is made up solely of priests, and is one more consultative body at the aid of the bishop in administering the diocese.  The Diocesan Pastoral Council, as well as being a consultative body, is made up primarily of lay people from throughout the diocese.  I look forward to working with each of these groups of people for the well-being of the diocese.

At this year’s September Institute, the priests and deacons will have a guest speaker coming to spend a few days with us to help us understand the new translations of the Roman Missal, and prepare to implement this new Missal the beginning of Advent, 2011.  I hope during this time to also put a plan in place for preparing all our parishes and people to be fully prepared to welcome and implement this new Roman Missal.

One other large “building block” soon to fit in place is the beginning of a strategic pastoral planning process.  This weekend, I completed a Vision / Mission Statement to help set the priorities for the diocese over the next three to five years.  The Vision / Mission Statement is a starting point of a lengthy, consultative process, in which may people from throughout the diocese will help to set these priorities.  I believe firmly the Holy Spirit is at work renewing our Church, and this process will call all of us to prayerfully cooperate with God’s plan for us and for our future.

Finally, as this blog title indicates, I’m off to school again first thing in the morning.  Every year, the Congregation for Bishops in Rome sponsors a lengthy workshop to assist new bishops in better understanding the various roles we play in the local Church as Bishop.  I’m told this is the 9th or 10th year for this workshop.  I’m glad to have about nine months of experience already under my belt going into these workshops.  It will also be great to spend time with other new bishops from around the world.  The highlight will be an audience with the Holy Father.

As I return to Rome for the first time as bishop, please know of my prayers for all of you.  Please, also, remember me in your prayers.  My greatest desire thus far as a bishop, and earnest prayer, is for unity and peace and the continued renewal of our Church.  May each of you continue to grow in your knowledge of Christ and His love and grace at work in you.  May we each continue to be open and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit during these days of renewal!