Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pastoral Letter: That Your Joy May Be Complete pt. 1

Recently my bishop issued a pastoral letter, which marks his 25th anniversary of being a Roman Catholic. He was raised as a Methodist and his conversion story is quite unique. To make a long story short, he went through law school, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam war, and later as an advisor to the governor of Wisconsin. When the governor decided not to seek re-election, he knew that he was out of a job and the first thing that came to him was the priesthood. This seemed odd to him, because he was not even Catholic by that time. He was eventually received into the Church and went to seminary and was ordained. He served for 19 years as a priest in the diocese of Madison, WI and in August of 2006 he was appointed to be the new bishop of the diocese of Sioux Falls, SD. He had never been to Sioux Falls until the press conference was held to make the announcement. Now that he has been my bishop for a little over 1 1/2 years, he feels very much at home in the diocese and his Pastoral Letter is a way of reaching out to all Catholics and especially to those who have left the Church.

In the letter he writes about seven sources of joy that both clergy and lay people can relate to. The first aspect of our faith that the writes about is the Eucharist. It is quite fitting that this letter was released before today, because we celebrate Corpus Christi. While still in Madison, WI, my bishop (then Monsignor Paul Swain) was the rector of St. Raphael's Cathedral in Madison and unfortunately it was set on fire and was burnt beyond the possibility of being repaired. The next morning, while the damage was being assessed, my bishop asked if he could go in and retrieve the Blessed Sacrament. The firefighter he asked told him that it was too dangerous to go in. Another firefighter who happened to be Catholic took my bishop in and the tabernacle had sustained some damage, but the ciborium that held the Eucharist was intact. He writes: "Earlier I had been tearing at the loss of the building. At that moment I wept at the presence of Our Lord. In the midst of smoke and ashes, loss and anxiety, He was with us. He is with us in the Blessed Sacrament. Joy comes in the Holy Eucharist."

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