September 8, 2006

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Dog days of summer end early with flurry of activities

Once in awhile, somebody asks me what I do as archbishop. I am never quite sure how to answer.

Obviously, I proclaim and teach the Word of God, and celebrate the sacraments around the archdiocese. And I oversee the administration of the resources needed to carry on the mission of Christ.

How does this work out in day-to-day life? The following has been my “what I do” since returning from vacation a month ago.

I headed for Saint Meinrad to join my high school class for our 50th anniversary of graduation. It was fun to reminisce about good times we shared in the seminary. Both ordinands and those who did not go on to ordination were present.

My time at the reunion was cut short. An elderly friend died, and I had promised I would be at her funeral.

Ann Marek spent her latter years helping in the sacristy of St. Luke Church in Indianapolis. She served God and the Church in unseen ways until she couldn’t go anymore. In my mind, she represents so many elderly faithful who serve in the shadows of our communities.

Our Clergy Personnel Board resumed its schedule of monthly meetings to continue to oversee parish and clergy needs around the archdiocese. We are in the happy situation of welcoming several foreign missionary priests to serve at some of our parishes. This is a new experience for us, and we want to be sure they are welcomed and are oriented to the procedures and culture of our archdiocese.

I was delighted to meet and welcome Fathers Juan Jose Valdez and Oscar Anguiano, missionaries on loan from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico. These priests are part of an exchange agreement which we have entered with the cardinal archbishop of that diocese. Father Christiaan Kappes has been representing us for a time in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.

I annually spend three days with our seminarians in meeting and recollection before they return to seminary studies. I did so again over the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We begin this school year with 32 seminarians. On the third day of convocation, we went as pilgrims to the eastern side of the archdiocese. We celebrated Mass at St. Paul Church in New Alsace. This church was actually dedicated by Bishop Simon Bruté the year before he died. At the invitation of the pastor, Father Harold Rightor, Msgr. Harold Knueven, a son of the parish, presented a parish history.

After Mass, we headed for St. Martin Parish in Yorkville. There, generous parishioners provided a lunch of fried chicken, the “fixins” and homemade desserts.

Then it was on to St. John Parish in Dover, where we were greeted by the pastor, Father George Plaster. A lay leader described that parish’s history, including a visit by Bishop Bruté. I enjoyed being with our seminarians. They are promising candidates for the priesthood.

For the first time in 54 years, the Mother General of the Little Sisters of the Poor visited St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis. I was privileged to preside at the Eucharist along with Bishop William L. Higi of the Diocese of Lafayette and Archabbot Justin DuVall, O.S.B., of Saint Meinrad. It was a grand day for the residents, friends and staff. Father Albert Ajamie, a resident himself, was radiant.

I also celebrated a Mass with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart at the convent on the St. Michael and Cardinal Ritter campus in Indianapolis. Sixteen sisters gathered from their three convents, two in Indianapolis and one in Bedford. They prepared a tasty Indian lunch after the Mass, which recalled the 200th birthday of their founder.

On another occasion, I celebrated a Mass with the Missionaries of Charity in the St. Philip Neri neighborhood in Indianapolis. The sisters celebrate their founding by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta this time of year. They are revered neighbors in the St. Philip area, especially among the poor.

I presided at the rededication of the beautifully renovated church of St. Roch Parish. The church was packed for the occasion. At the conclusion of Mass, Father James Wilmoth, the pastor, and I led a procession accompanied by a statue of St. Roch from the church to the parish center, where a parish party followed. St. Roch’s feast is observed on Aug. 16.

From Aug. 20-24, I participated in the annual retreat of the bishops of the dioceses of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. This is a time for new inspiration as a busy fall gets under way.

On Aug. 26, I presided at a Mass celebrating the 50th anniversary of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. It is amazing to recall the development of this parish community from its modest beginnings to the large and very active community today, including a thriving Hispanic ministry.

That’s a good part of what I did during three weeks of August.†


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