Any bishop will tell you, days of ordaining new priests are about as good as it gets!  I’m very grateful for the opportunity to ordain a new priest for the Archdiocese of Anchorage today.  Congratulations, Rev. Robert Whitney!

As if that were not good enough, in a few hours I depart Anchorage for Rome.  Mission Pallium.  You may ask, “What is a Pallium?”  It is a liturgical ‘collar’, a narrow band of wool, marked with black crosses, worn only by the Pope and Metropolitan Archbishops.  It is a highly significant piece of vesture symbolizing the union shared between the Holy Father and the Archbishops, and through them, with their people.  For us as Catholics, unity in the universality of the faith is important, so much so that it is reflected in our Creed – one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church.

The Pallium is made by nuns in Rome from the wool of lambs which are gifted to the Holy Father each year.  It is not a far stretch for the imagination to conjure up the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who carries the sheep around his shoulders.  Thus, for me, the Pallium also represents the desire of every bishop and priest to strive for a closer union with Jesus Christ, whose bride is the Church.  Indeed, it is the lifetime goal of each bishop and priest to be transformed into Jesus Christ.  How is that for a high standard and goal?

Each year, on June 29, the Feast of the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Father invites all the Archbishops created that year to celebrate Mass with him at St. Peters.  After that Mass, the Holy Father gives each new Archbishop their Pallium.  This celebration is special on so many levels, but it holds one additional significance for me, as on June 27, I will celebrate my 25th anniversary of priesthood.  Thank, you, Pope Francis, for throwing such a celebration!

So, as I prepare to make this journey, I want all of the people of Alaska (which is the entire Province of the Metropolitan See of Anchorage) to know that I carry each of you in my heart and prayers during this ten day pilgrimage.  Share your intentions with me through your prayers, and we will meet at the altar each day, where we will lift up this local portion of God’s holy, faithful people to the Lord, The Good Shepherd, to whom we belong.

It is my hope to bog often during this pilgrimage, so please check back regularly to hear about our journey.

Saints Peter & Paul, Pray for us.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pray for us.