March 30, 2012

Foundation of Archbishop-designate Lori’s vocation laid in New Albany

In this file photo from 2008, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein talks in the home of Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter with Frank and Margaret Lori, members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville. The Loris are the parents of Bishop William E. Lori. Bishop Lori grew up in New Albany. On March 20, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to be the 16th archbishop of Baltimore. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

In this file photo from 2008, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein talks in the home of Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter with Frank and Margaret Lori, members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville. The Loris are the parents of Bishop William E. Lori. Bishop Lori grew up in New Albany. On March 20, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to be the 16th archbishop of Baltimore. (File photo by Sean Gallagher) Click for a larger version.

By Sean Gallagher

Archbishop-designate William E. Lori of Baltimore has followed a winding path to become the leader of the oldest diocese in the United States.

That path began in New Albany, his boyhood home.

When the news reached the southern Indiana town that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him to become the 16th shepherd of this 227-year-old archdiocese on March 20, his parents, friends and well-wishers there were happy, but not necessarily surprised. (Related: Baltimore Archbishop-designate Lori reflects on ties to Cardinal Ritter, New Albany, family)

“I wasn’t surprised by it,” said Frank Lori, Archbishop-designate Lori’s 90-year-old father who, along with Margaret Lori, his wife of 65 years, is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville.

Such might be the words of a proud father. But Frank and Margaret didn’t use that word to describe their feelings regarding their son’s accomplishments.

“I don’t use the word ‘proud,’ ” Margaret said. “We are grateful for his vocation. We’re grateful for the inspiration that he has had since the second grade.”

Archbishop-designate Lori was a student at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in New Albany, which proudly displays a picture of him as a bishop in one of its hallways.

“We are very proud of him,” said Theresa Horton, the school’s principal. “It’s great to have him from our parish and our school.”

Archbishop-designate Lori is the second bishop with ties to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne was the pastor there from 1998 to 2007.

“We seem to foster bishops here, which is good,” said Horton with a laugh.

The faculty of the New Albany Deanery school, along with Father Eric Augenstein, the parish’s pastor, work hard to encourage the students there to consider prayerfully that God might be calling them to a priestly or religious vocation, Horton said.

“We have several students looking into the priesthood from our parish and our school,” she said. “I know Father Eric will bring [Archbishop-designate Lori] up when he talks to the kids about vocations.”

When Archbishop-designate Lori, 60, was growing up in New Albany during the 1950s and 1960s, his parents were aware of his interest in the priesthood, but did not force it on him.

“We didn’t do anything to get him to be a priest or to keep him from being a priest,” said Frank Lori. “It was his idea in the first place. We let him go do whatever he wanted to do.”

“As a young man, he was very sure of himself,” Margaret Lori said.

After graduating from Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Archbishop-designate Lori attended high school and college seminaries in Kentucky before receiving the last four years of his priestly formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977. He later earned a doctorate in theology at The Catholic University of America, and was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Washington Archdiocese in 1995.

Blessed John Paul II appointed him to lead the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese in 2001.

During that time, Archbishop-designate Lori has maintained a lifelong friendship with David Hock, a classmate from his days at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.

Hock is planning to attend his friend’s installation, which is scheduled for May 16.

“I’ve already made reservations,” Hock said with a laugh on the day after the appointment was announced.

When Hock was in school with Archbishop-designate Lori, both boys were thinking about becoming priests.

In 1961, Hock attended a reception in New Albany to welcome Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter back to his hometown after becoming a cardinal at a liturgy in Rome.

“I was quite impressed in shaking his hand,” said Hock, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. “I’m sure he said something to me. I remember going back and saying to [Archbishop-designate Lori], ‘I just met Cardinal Ritter.’ ”

For several years, Hock has led a foundation that is dedicated to restoring the boyhood home of Cardinal Ritter.

He now sees his boyhood friend providing a similar kind of leadership for the Church in the United States that Cardinal Ritter did half a century ago.

He is proud that the parishes and Catholic schools of the New Albany Deanery are communities that inspire young people like Cardinal Ritter and Archbishop-designate Lori to use the talents that God gave them in service to the Church.

“It’s not that much different, really, than with Cardinal Ritter,” Hock said. “You can go to school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and be anything that you want to be. It’s a neat thing that they’ve come out of these local parishes.”

Although Archbishop-designate Lori had the foundation of his vocation in part laid in the education that he received at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the constant prayer of his parents also played an important role.

And they continue to pray for him today.

“The only thing that we can offer is our prayers,” said Margaret Lori. “We give thanks to the Lord for his vocation, and all the wonderful people who have worked with him throughout Connecticut [and elsewhere]. We give all of them complete thanks for their support.” †

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