Sorry for the long silence here this month. One would think I would have lots of things to share, given the last post here! However, before I allow myself to be captivated by the excitement that awaits in Anchorage, I wanted to make a graceful and grateful exit from Wyoming. Today, I enter the final four day stretch leading to a runway where I will land in Anchorage Thursday evening.
These past weeks have been full. The packing process is well underway and the majority of correspondence and notes to file are nearing completion. I made my final Confirmation tour during the last two weeks, celebrating at the three parishes in Cheyenne, and then on to Torrington, Douglas, and wrapping up in Powell. Along the way, there have been stops at various ranches to say goodbye to those who have shared their homes and lives with me. And of course, there are many other goodbyes after every Mass and with almost every meal.
Thursday evening I welcomed my chancery staff one last time to my residence, that we might share some time giving thanks to God for his many blessings we have experienced as laborers in his vineyard. Friday afternoon I shared a final meal with the priests, deacons and wives prior to celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral, which concluded with a receiving line of grateful parishioners. Yesterday, the entire day was devoted to clearing out the files and desk drawers at the office, as well as my desk at the residence, and hours of writing and completing correspondence, and trying to keep up with the demand to write many Thank You notes.
All in all, though my emotions have been raw, I have been able to keep them mostly in check, until this morning, during my last Sunday Mass at the Cathedral, and the wave finally came crashing down. I hope I did not make people too uncomfortable while I tried to regain composure. If anything, it was one final, public display of the profound love I have come to know and share with and for the people of the Diocese of Cheyenne, and the knowledge that I will miss you all very much.
Thanks for the love you have shared with me and the faith that we have grown together. I look forward to a few more meals and visits, and at least one more Mass at the Cathedral Tuesday for the Holy Day of All Saints.
I’ve been telling people across Wyoming that my departure is all your fault, because all of you helped make me look good. No bishop, no leader, can take sole credit for any good that is accomplished, except the One Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. To him and to him alone belongs all glory, honor and blessing, forever!
So, whether you are the ones to whom I now must say “Goodbye” or the ones to whom I will soon say “Hello,” let us keep our eyes on Christ, and follow him wherever he leads, that we may continue to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, ever expanding the canvas of our tent to welcome more people into this one family of God.
As we expand the tent of God’s dwelling, whether we are leaving our home, or leaving church after Mass; entering the gym, office, or school, going to the polling booth or running errands around town, know it is Christ who sends us into the world. He lives in us. We live in him. He sends us in his name. Go, and proclaim the Good News, leading others always to Christ.