September 7, 2007

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Dear Archbishop: Letters from youths pose interesting questions

September is the month of my deceased parents’ birthdays. Mom would celebrate her 100th, my dad his 101st.

I am as convinced as I can be that both are with God. I wonder if they continue to count birthdays in heaven. This is also the month of my anniversary of installation as archbishop.

I associate my parents’ birthdays with the beginning of another school year and religious formation. I can’t think of a better way to honor my mom and dad and to celebrate a new year of grace as archbishop than to answer some interesting questions about my life as archbishop.

I have before me three letters (with illustrations!) from last year’s first-graders at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. I didn’t get the letters in time to answer last May.

Dear Archbishop Daniel, Thank you for being an Archbishop. What do you do in the morning? What do you do at noon? What do you do in the evening? Love, Drake

Well, Drake, those are big questions. The first hour of my morning is one of my prayer times. I don’t usually have much of a breakfast except on my personal day after I visit my spiritual director-confessor.

Most mornings, I go the Catholic Center where I have an office. I receive pretty much mail so the first thing I do is read the mail and answer what I can.

Many days, I have morning appointments, often with folks who help me with the administration of the archdiocese, or some days with priests.

Other mornings, I may have meetings, for example, with a representative council of priests or the clergy personnel board. They advise me on matters of ministry.

At noon, I usually have luncheon meetings or appointments away from the office. The purpose of these luncheons varies. They may have to do with finding the help we need to keep our schools going or they may be with fellows who are considering the priesthood or it may be planning for youth ministry.

Many evenings, I celebrate the sacrament of confirmation, sometimes at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, sometimes out in the 39 counties that are part of the archdiocese.

Sometimes I have special Masses for various groups or for anniversaries of parishes or organizations. I try to get to my house in the late afternoon so that I can take a walk for exercise, and to think and to pray the rosary. Usually, I spend another half-hour in my house chapel before the Blessed Sacrament just to spend time with Jesus.

(Drake’s illustration shows me in church elevating the chalice and vessel with hosts.)

Dear Archbishop Daniel, thank you for being Archbishop. What is your favorite food? I am praying for you. Do you still swim? I like that you are a priest. What is your favorite TV show? Is it hard being Archbishop? Do you have a dog? Do you like books? Love, David

Dear David, My favorite food is probably not very healthy—it is good old Southern-fried chicken. I also like pecan pie and carrot cake. I still swim, but not as much as I would like to.

My favorite TV show would be the Indianapolis Colts’ football games. I really like dogs and I would have one if I were home enough to take care of it.

Reading books is a favorite pastime. I read books on theology, the Bible and other spiritual works. On vacation, I read historical novels and mystery books, too.

Is it hard to be archbishop? Most of the time, no. I worry about keeping our schools for poor children and about finding more vocations to the priesthood.

Thank you for saying you like me being a priest. Maybe you can be one, too. Thank you for praying for me.

(David’s illustration has me praying the Our Father at the altar.)

Dear Archbishop Daniel, Thank you for being Archbishop. What do you do with your free time? What’s your favorite food? Do you cook? What’s your favorite restaurant? What’s your favorite NFL player? Do you like the color black? What’s your favorite priest? What’s your favorite book? Do you like shrimp? What’s your favorite fruit? Do you have a pet? Do you grow plants? What’s your favorite flower? Love, Lucas

Dear Lucas, I think I have already answered most of your questions above. I do cook and enjoy it. I like the Amalfi restaurant, but I don’t get there often.

Peyton Manning is my favorite player. Fortunately, I like the color black! My favorite priest would be Jesus. My favorite flower is the rose.

(Lucas has an elaborate illustration. I am leading prayers at the altar under a crucifix, holding the Eucharist and surrounded by children holding hands.)

I enjoyed writing to all three of you guys! †

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