One of the most common questions I am asked is: “What is it like being a bishop?” Having been a bishop for only seven months, it makes sense people would like to know my experience. My response consistently is that it is an amazing experience that fills me with gratitude.
This past Easter season was filled with celebrations of confirmation for our young men and women. As part of their preparation, each wrote a letter sharing about their experience of preparation these past two years. Over and over I was inspired as they shared about their life of prayer, especially the opportunity to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Many of these young people are “on fire,” having a profound sense that God loves them and they delight in the times they are able to share their lives with Him in prayer. They have come to see the sick, the homeless, the immigrant and all those who suffer with new eyes; they try to care for these brothers and sisters as they would care for Jesus himself. So, to be able to be the instrument by which these men and women were filled with the Holy Spirit and received the accompanying gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) was a humbling experience.
Before being named a bishop, my prior ministry was to serve as the vicar for priests. Some would say that I was the priest who cared for the priests of our Diocese, as the priests care for you. In doing so, I would have regular contact with Bishop Vann in planning formation opportunities, days of prayer, retreat, etc. Now, I have the opportunity to work much more closely with him and learn from his wisdom and experience. These past months have helped me to learn about faith-filled and courageous decision-making, striving for the best for the whole Diocese, as well as the various protocols unique to a bishop. I am blessed to have such a kind and patient teacher and know there is still a lot to learn.
There are many times that it still seems surreal–that I will wake up and this will all be an amazing dream. I am humbled when I think of being a successor to the apostles. At the same time, I remember well that “to the one more has been given, more will be expected.” So, I find myself praying even more that I will be the man, the priest and the bishop the Lord wishes me to be and that every decision I make will be in accord with His will. Frequently I ask Mary to intercede for me that she who said, “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk 1: 38) will ask the Lord to give me that same grace.
Priests frequently tell me that they are getting used to praying for me by name in the Eucharistic prayer at Mass. I am grateful for this outpouring of prayer and I ask you to keep me in your prayers.