My day has been filled with many fond memories, and my heart is filled with much gratitude. Twenty Four years ago today, I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Archbishop O’Meara, Archbishop of Indianapolis, died in January, 1992, and we were still without an archbishop. Bishop Gettelfinger, a former priest from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was asked to be the ordaining prelate. Bishop Gettelfinger would go on to ordain two of my brothers for his own diocese as priests for Evansville, Indiana.
If memory serves me well, July 11, 1992, it was announced that Bishop Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB, was to become the new Archbishop of Indianapolis. He was installed September 9, 1992, and was the only Archbishop I served during my seventeen years as a priest for the Archdiocese before being named Bishop of Cheyenne in October, 2009.
Today began with a Mass at the Cathedral. No better or fitting way for any priest (bishop) to celebrate an anniversary. Even though the day has been filled with many meetings (and still one more to go tonight) my mind has wandered back through the years to the ordination day and the many assignments and people with whom God has blessed me over these years.
As I prayed Evening Prayer this evening, I took a moment to recall the many assignments, people, sacraments celebrated, and then was frozen in my thoughts in gratitude to the Lord for allowing me to share in the awesome mystery of salvation. That is the work of a priest, to share in and continue the saving work of Jesus Christ.
All of you who know my story know I never would have chosen this life for myself. It is sheer gift, because God chose this life for me, and no doubt, created me for this life. Obviously, I did freely choose this life, after much prayer, encouragement and discernment. Any time anyone gives him or herself fully and freely to God – they are launched on a journey they can never imagine. My prayer for all of you is that you may come to know God in the person of Jesus Christ. May you come to know the joy I have known in giving my life as fully as I can to the Lord.
May you discover the interior freedom which is required for discovering authentic love, for true love requires authentic freedom. This is what St. Paul spoke of in the second reading this Sunday: “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” (Galatians 5:1) I know my own life and love has its flaws, and yet, I have known great love through priesthood; God’s love, and the love of God’s People.
To all of you who have been a part of this journey, THANKS! To all of you who have supported me through the years, THANKS! To all of you without whom I would never have even made it to the altar, THANKS! To all of you, whoever you are, know that you are loved, more than you ever may know in this life. To all of you presently entrusted to my pastoral care, know of my prayers.
To all of you, a simple request, please, pray for me.