November 13, 2015

In homecoming, Bishop Etienne calls men to follow Holy Spirit

Father Rick Nagel, left, and Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., elevate the Eucharist during an Oct. 31 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. The Mass was part of the annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference. Father Nagel is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish. Bishop Etienne, formerly pastor of St. John, was a speaker at the conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Rick Nagel, left, and Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., elevate the Eucharist during an Oct. 31 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. The Mass was part of the annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference. Father Nagel is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish. Bishop Etienne, formerly pastor of St. John, was a speaker at the conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Bishop Paul D. Etienne made a homecoming on Oct. 31 by participating as a speaker in this year’s Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

A native of Tell City, Bishop Etienne was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 1992. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo.

At this year’s conference, sponsored by the Marian Center of Indianapolis, Bishop Etienne gave a reflection, celebrated Mass and preached a homily, and led eucharistic adoration and Benediction for the 500 men in attendance. He encouraged conference attendees to make the Holy Spirit more a conscious part of their life of faith.

“The Holy Spirit gets short shrift in the Church,” he said during his reflection. “For many Catholics, the Holy Spirit is wholly absent, instead of wholly active. We want to open ourselves to that power of the Holy Spirit.”

If Catholics do this, Bishop Etienne said, then the Holy Spirit will help them to make Christ’s dying and rising—known as his paschal mystery—more a part of their daily lives.

“Throughout the life of the Church, throughout our spiritual journey, the Holy Spirit is that transforming power of God that is working that paschal mystery into us,” Bishop Etienne said. “It’s a reality. It’s a mystery. And it is truly inspiring in each of us.”

He also noted that the Holy Spirit can nurture a sense of Gospel joy in our hearts in the midst of a culture that is “highly stimulated by external sources.”

To allow the Holy Spirit to move one’s heart, Bishop Etienne advised his listeners to “get off grid” periodically by staying away from computer and digital device screens and instead enter into “the beauty of God’s creation.”

He recalled a day the week before when he did this while hunting in the Wyoming wilderness.

“In that creation, we encounter the living God,” Bishop Etienne said. “The Holy Spirit breathed over the waters that gave life to all these things is present, reminding us that we are a part of that precious creation.

“We are the good stewards of this good creation of God. So, we’ve got to get offline and reconnect with God the Creator, reconnect with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s in those moments where, however we do that, that we hear our own name called by Jesus. It’s in those moments where we know ourselves as loved by Jesus.”

Bishop Etienne also spoke about how Pope Francis, in his 2013 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” encouraged the faithful to become “Spirit-filled evangelizers” who are “fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit” (#259).

“Brothers, if you’re going to pray that the Holy Spirit would wholly enter into your life, you’d better be fearless, because the Spirit will come and will lead where you dare not even dream,” Bishop Etienne said. “But that’s the stuff of reform, that’s the stuff of the life of the triune God.”

Bishop Etienne was the principal celebrant and homilist during a midday Mass at the conference, which was celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis.

Preaching in the parish church where he had once served as pastor, Bishop Etienne exhorted his listeners to take on the meekness and humility of Christ.

“True meekness recognizes the natural order of things and humbly bows to the inherent wisdom in God’s design,” Bishop Etienne said. “That’s what we are created for, and it is what is being sought from us. It’s ultimately the high point of our life. We discover that glory when we humbly submit to the Lord, to his ways and to the people that he’s entrusted to us.”

After the liturgy, Zach Williams said Bishop Etienne’s words and other messages shared during the conference’s morning sessions hit home.

“To hear some of the speakers talk, to say some of the things they say, helps me know that I’m not the only one going through some of these things—difficulties at home, and the stresses of life every day that you have to deal with,” said Williams, a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

His stepson, Zach Duckett, agreed.

“It helped me understand what an authentic man is, especially in this modern culture,” said Duckett, who is a sophomore at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “Something like this is becoming increasingly relevant because we’re being pulled from both sides. It helped me to see what God’s true calling to be an authentic man is.”

(Editor Mike Krokos contributed to this story.)


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