Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishing You All a Blessed New Year


I just wanted to take a few moments to wish you all a Blessed New Year and to promise my prayers. 

I finally got around to editing my profile.  People are still getting used to calling me bishop, as I am getting used to the title myself but at least it is a little less of a mouth full than bishop-elect!!! 

The great people at Group M7, the internet company that hosts our diocesan website, are working on a website that I can use personally.  It is still in the design phase but before too long I will be switch to that and ending my use of this blog.  Don’t worry!!!  I will offer you plenty of notice for the switch and I will be able to use the new website like a blog but with other great features also.  There will also be a link from the official website of the Diocese of Tyler, dioceseoftyler.org so in case you do miss the information on my blog you will always be able to catch up with me there.

I spoke to one of our seminarians this morning and when we were both hanging up and wishing each other a happy new year he laughed.  He explained that he was laughing because 2013 will be a VERY NEW YEAR for me and for the diocese.  His laughter was quite appropriate because each step along this new year will be a brand new experience for me as bishop of this family that I have come to love so deeply called the Diocese of Tyler.  Through the years I’ve often commented to newly weds and newly ordained priests that they have to realize how important their first year in their new vocation is.  Every experience is a first time event in their new role.  It dawned on me a couple of weeks after my ordination that I need to heed my own advice.  The coming months will bring many new experiences for me.

One of those brand new experiences has already passed.  Celebrating my first Christmas as bishop was a joyful and blessed event for me.  People have commented that I seem so comfortable in my new role and I have to say that their perception is accurate.  I know it is the Grace of God that allows me to enter into this new role so smoothly and I also appreciate the kindness and support of the people and so many who are assisting me directly with liturgies etc.  I feel everyone “pulling for me” and that is a great comfort.  I suppose it is just another manifestation of the blessing I feel in being called to be bishop of my family!!!

Speaking of family, I’ll share a picture of my niece Megan Schnurbusch.  You can probably guess that she is Cinderella in this picture.  You can see that she is enjoying her new role also!!!
 

GOD BLESS YOU AS WE ENTER INTO 2013.  LET US CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings

                                                                                                 
A Blessed Christmas to All-

As I celebrate my first Christmas as Bishop of Tyler I wanted to greet all of you and assure you of my prayers during this holy season. 
As you can imagine it is exciting to return to the Cathedral this evening for my first Midnight Mass as bishop.  I have celebrated many midnight masses at the Cathedral through the years, as an assistant priest, as rector of the Cathedral, concelebrating with Bishop Corrada and now as bishop.  The Cathedral is always beautiful for Christmas and I look forward to this wonderful liturgy.
Christmas is such a busy time for all of us that it is easy to forget what it is all about.  I pray that where ever you are this Christmas that you take the opportunity to go to mass and celebrate the birth of Our Lord.  I was always mystified as a kid by the reality that many believing Christians don’t go to church to celebrate Christmas.  The liturgical basis of our worship as Catholics helps us to stay rooted in the basic events of salvation that have unfolded for us all. 
I know that many of you have a tradition of inviting non-Catholics to join us for our Christmas masses especially for Midnight Mass.  I encourage you to continue that tradition.  There is no limit to what God can accomplish in all of our lives when we open our hearts to the truth of His saving plan.  Let us pray that all Christians, Catholic or not, may grow in a deeper contemplation of the wonders God has done for us as we celebrate Christmas 2012.

Sincerely in Christ’s Name,

+ Joseph

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reflections and Calendar Update

 

This picture includes (seated on the front row, from the left) Bishop David Fellhauer, Bishop Edmond Carmody and Archbishop Michael Sheehan. All three of these men along with Bishop Herzig, Bishop Corrada and so many others have played significant roles in my formation.

It is a special blessing to me personally that Bishop Carmody, bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi has agreed to return to Tyler to serve as my Vicar General. I look forward to working with him and especially asking him to assist us in development for the future of the diocese. He and Bishop Corrada have placed the diocese on a firm foundation after Bishop Herzig began the diocese and formed the basic administrative offices. It is an exciting time to continue the work of these fine men and a special blessing that one of them will be working as my "right hand man" as the diocese continues to develop.  

Many people have commented on the abundant blessings our diocese has received with the three fine men of Christ and His Church who have shepherded the diocese since it began. Herzig, Carmody and Corrada will be names that will always be remembered as a triumvirate of strength in the Catholic faith.  I am humbled to realize that it is my charge to take up their yoke and continue their fine work.  I know that I will rely on the prayers and support of all in the diocese and beyond.   

Midnight mass for Christmas 2012 will be a very blessed celebration for me.  Please know that all of you will be in my prayers in a special way at that mass.  I ask that you also pray for me and the Diocese of Tyler, by the grace of God may the coming years also be blessed as we seek to live and proclaim Jesus Christ more abundantly in north east Texas.
 

GOD BLESS YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

MY CALENDAR

December 26-  No public mass

December 27-  No public mass 

December 28-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop’s Chapel in the Chancery 

December 29-  5:30 PM Mass at the Cathedral 

December 30-  9:00 AM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

                        11:00 AM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul 

December 31-  6:00 PM Mass at the Cathedral 

January 1, 2013-  10:00 AM at the Cathedral 

January 2- No public mass 

January 3-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop’s Chapel in the Chancery 

January 4-  No public mass 

January 5-  5:00 PM Mass at St. Joseph’s in Marshall 

January 6-  9:30 AM Mass at Holy Spirit Church in Holly Lake, Texas 

January 7-  11-  Bishop’s Retreat in San Antonio 

January 12-  5:00 PM Confirmation Mass at St. Augustine Church, St. Augustine, Texas 

January 13-  1:00 PM Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tyler

Saturday, December 8, 2012

More Pictures

These pictures are from 10:00 Mass at the Cathedral on December 2, when I officially took possession of the Cathedral.

The other pictures are from the Gala celebration of the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital..........me getting a little exercise and learning how to do heart surgery.







Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Calendar Revision

Wouldn't you know..........I get it posted and the calendar changes.........for now just one change!

December 20-  Remove-  7:40 Mass at Gorman School Chapel
                          Add-  8:15 Mass at St. Gregory Cathedral School at the Cathedral

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Few Pictures

 Yep that's me in the miter!!

 A great partnership Bishop and Vincent Meinzer

 Bishop and Archbishop Sheehan
 


 Bishop Corrada laying on of hands

 Bishop Carmody, Archbishop Sheehan
                         (first row)

 Me with Dennis, Stephen, Barbara, Katherine and Megan Schnurbusch (my baby sister and her family)

 Archbishop Sheehan and ski buddies from New Mexico, Fr. Dennis Garcia, Fr. Larry Brieto, Archbishop, Fr. Francis Malley

 Me with my sister Ann and family,  Julie Smith McManus, Beth Smith, Michael Smith and Macy McManus

Calendar December 8 to December 25

December 8-  5:30 PM Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson, Texas

December 9-  6:30 AM Mass at the Cathedral
                       2:00 PM Guadalupe Mass in Athens

December 10-  No public mass

December 11-  No public mass

December 12-  7:00 PM Confirmation Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Tyler

December 13-  No public mass

December 14-  7:40 AM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

December 15-  10:00 AM Mass for Deacon Candidates in Marshall- Ministry of Lector
                           5:30 PM Confirmation Mass in Hallsville

December 16-  8:30 AM Mass at St. Augustine
                         Spending time in South East Deanery

December 17-  Visiting South East Deanery

December 18-  7:40 AM Mass at Bishop Gorman School Chapel

December 19-  8:00 AM Mass in Bishop's Chapel at Chancery

December 20-  7:40 AM Mass at Bishop Gorman School Chapel

December 21-  9:40 AM Bishop Gorman School Mass to close semester at the Chapel of Saints Peter  and Paul

December 22-  No public mass

December 23-  Masses at St. Matthew's in Longview

December 24-  10:00 PM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul- Christmas Eve
                         12:00 AM Midnight Mass at the Cathedral

December 25-  8:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral

A Tremendous Week


As I try to share a few reflections about the most awesome week in the life of this kid from Atlanta, Texas; I realize that there is no way I can capture everything.  Acknowledging that my reflections will be inadequate I will go ahead and make a stab at it.

It seems especially significant that Bishop Gorman School was highlighted in the Bull (mandate) from the Holy Father Pope Benedict naming me as the 4th Bishop of Tyler.  That is one element of awesomeness that Bishop Gorman School was actually mentioned in the Bull.  It reflects all the wonderful people in my school family who have been a part of this tremendous week and truly a part of my entire journey.  Although St. Gregory Cathedral School was not mentioned directly I hope that those who are part of that wonderful “branch” of my family realize that they really were in the message also.  St. Gregory and Bishop Gorman are sister schools and they BOTH did a tremendous job for me personally and for the diocese of adding a WHOLE LOT OF AWESOMENESS to this past week.  I could go on for a very long time mentioning the behind the scenes and “in the spotlight” contributions that Bishop Gorman administration, staff, faculty and students made to the event of my ordination.  I can say DITTO for all that the administration, staff, faculty and students of St. Gregory offered as well.  I suppose what this expresses for me is that as children and families have been so much a part of my journey it is especially appropriate that the children and families of our schools have been right at the middle of my ordination.

I know that all of our Catholic schools contributed in beautiful ways to my ordination and in addition to Bishop Gorman and St. Gregory I want to especially thank St. Mary’s, St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s.  Even though I haven’t had as much interaction with these schools they stepped up beautifully to participate,  send wishes of congratulations and add materially to the celebration in wonderful ways.  I look forward to embracing all of these kids into my growing family also.

I commented on a couple of the posts of a fellow blogger in regard to my election and ordination as the 4th Bishop of Tyler and stated that his words were “over the top”.  Somehow that may be a good description of the wonders that God has done among us after all.  The Lord has been truly “over the top” in the grace that He has offered me.  The event of my ordination was a blessing to me in a deeply personal way; the same can be said for my family and my wonderful extended family that encompasses the Cathedral and the whole diocese.  It was a blessing for the visiting bishops who had nothing but praise for ALL the elements of the two days that many of them spent with us. 

I wish that I could take the time to publically and personally thank each and every person involved but I know if I made the attempt I would leave some dear people off the list and I’m afraid I’d be accused of neglecting my pastoral duties.  We do have some celebrations in the works to say thank you to key groups in a small way.  My expressions of gratitude will forever be inadequate expressions of thanks for the wonderful people who have done so much but maybe realizing that makes it all the more important that I at least try.

I’m reading a book on spiritual leadership these days and I loved a quote from a Chinese monk from centuries before Christ that said, a true leader is one who can accomplish a great work and leave the people saying “we did this”.  In reality my ordination isn’t a good example because I really had very little to do with it but I rejoice that the feeling I do get is that all of you who have worked so hard do come away from this week with exactly that feeling, “WE DID SOMETHING GREAT BY THE GRACE OF GOD”.  I feel my prayers is already being answered in wondrous ways that your hard work will reap tremendous benefits now and for a long time to come.

We all love Bishop Carmody, (the 2nd Bishop of Tyler) and he has often told us after various efforts in the diocese, “You done good”.  It was such a beautiful moment when Bishop Corrada greeted us as his fellow East Texans, the response of the congregation symbolized the significance of his warm statement for all of us.   It seems to be most fitting that I close and thank you in true East Texas style.  GOD BLESS YOU DIOCESAN FAMILY, YOU DONE GOOD!!!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Calendar Revisions and Update

REVISION

December 2,  8:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral
                     10:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral
                       1:30 PM Mass at the Cathedral

NEXT WEEK

December 3- No public Mass

December 4-  7:40 Mass at Gorman School Chapel

December 5-  No public Mass

December 6-  7:40 Mass at Gorman School Chapel

December 7-  7:40 Mass at Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts



I thought this little guy was an appropriate image as I reflect on all I give thanks for

at this time. I can imagine that some would question what a koala has to do with

Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  If you've been following my blog you probably know

that Australia has a very significant place in my story.   Aussie isn’t just “the land down

under” for the Strickland kids, it is part of who we are and part of our story.

I suppose the picture of a koala serves to remind me of the wonder of God’s plan in

each of our lives.  The story of how my father from Clarksville, Texas and my mother

from Sydney, Australia met during the second world war sounds a bit like a movie

script.  It is a story that includes joy and triumphs as well as sadness and heartache but

isn’t that the case for all of our stories.   As I give thanks for God’s blessings in my life

I am profoundly aware of all the graces and challenges that have brought me here.  The

act of giving thanks is deeply embedded in what it means to be Christian and what it means

to be Catholic.  As we celebrate this holiday I pray that all of us can be more aware of all

we give thanks for and I pray that our gratitude will strengthen us to face the joys and the

sorrows of tomorrow.  May God bless you and all who are dear to you on this Thanksgiving Day

2012.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Calendar Update- change on 11/18


Calendar November 16 to December 2

November 16-  9:00 AM Mass at St. Patrick's School in Lufkin

November 17-  No Public Mass

November 18-  8:00 Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

November 19-  No public Mass

November 20-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop's Chapel in the Chancery

November 21-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop's Chapel in the Chancery

November 22-  9:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral

November 23-  No public Mass

November 24-  No public Mass

November 25-  10:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral with Bishop Corrada
                         12:00 PM Mass at the Cathedral as Celebrant

November 26-  No public Mass

November 27-  7:40 Mass in Gorman School Chapel

November 28-  2:00 PM Ordination Mass at Caldwell Auditiorium
                         (Televised live on cable and EWTN)

November 29-  8:15 St. Gregory Cathedral School Mass at Cathedral
                         9:45 Bishop Gorman School Mass

November 30-  7:40 AM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

December 1-  10:00 AM Altar Server's Mass at Cathedral

December 2-
                       10:00 AM Mass at Cathedral
                       12:00 PM Mass at Cathedral


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The kindness of Shepherds Part 2





As I continue to enter into this new life I am more and more aware of the joys and the pitfalls that await me.  Through the years people have often told me not to change.  I have to admit I probably haven't fully understood their message but I think I'm getting more and more of the idea.  So many new things have entered my life and so many new influences that it is probably more important than ever that I stay grounded.  It is probably easy to begin to separate myself from the people but I realize more profoundly all the time that this would be a huge mistake.  My success as a shepherd will depend a lot on whether I remember that whether limos or pick up trucks, whether mansions or mobile homes, whether fine robes or running shorts, my primary work is to love and serve all of God's people however I encounter them.  

It probably sounds strange to a lot of people but there is a lot of glitz associated with being a bishop and it seems that it would be very easy to get carried away with it all.  The bishops that I am meeting inspire me because as I said earlier they seem very down to earth.  Many of them are in major cities and play major roles not just in the Church but in their entire communities.  Their experiences make the "glitz" that I have experienced seem very minor but they are very real.  I suppose Timothy Cardinal Dolan the Cardinal Archbishop of New York is a prime example.  He gave me a big bear hug and a slap on the back that almost knocked me down but his warmth and welcome was a great blessing.  He is just returned from Rome and playing a major role at the just concluded Synod of Bishops.  Here he is fresh from audiences with the Holy Father at the Vatican and he takes the time to warmly welcome me to the College of Bishops.

Cardinal Dolan and so many of the bishops remind me that we must always stay rooted in humble service to the people The Lord has called.  I suppose I always turn to the children to help me stay rooted and real.  It occurs to me that these men are a good reminder that Jesus Christ has said "let the children come to me".  It is truly a profound message that goes much deeper than kindness to the little ones even though that is so important.  Christ reminds us that we are all His children and that we need to humbly serve each other in that relationship.   The children often cut through any over blown "adult" importance we may grasp to ourselves.  I pray that they will always remind me that I'm a heart a kid from Atlanta,Texas who has been greatly blessed by God's kindness and grace.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Kindness of Shepherds


I am in Baltimore at my first Bishop's Meeting and even though I have not been ordained yet all of the bishops have been very welcoming.  I wanted to share what a great experience it has been to join them as I prepare to enter into this new role.  I suppose I presumed that since I have not been ordained I would more or less take a back seat at this meeting but the opposite has really been true.  Kindness is the word that I have to use to describe the way I have been welcomed by each bishop that I have encountered as we have been arriving and preparing for the official opening of the meeting tomorrow.

I know that I am still in awe of this call from God and Pope Benedict XVI and I suppose that awe continues to color my experiences.  I see bishops, archbishops and cardinals in the hall and all of them are so kind and seem so genuinely happy that I am joining their college.  I've reflected on that word a bit these past few days.  The College of Bishops is really a good way of describing this group of men who all have the same purpose of fostering and promoting the message of Jesus Christ.  It is so much more than a club or organization.  These men are called to be "collegial" in doing their best to share the burdens and celebrate the joys of shepherding God's people.  I have felt that collegial spirit since the moment I arrived here, literally in the shuttle van from the airport to the hotel.  I met one of the bishops from a diocese in the midwest and we visited a bit and compared notes on our dioceses etc.  He was kind enough to invite me to dinner when I'm sure he had several other opportunities that he could have accepted.  As we visited at dinner I commented how nice it is for priests and bishops to be able to meet as total strangers and have so much in common immediately.  I have already been blessed to experience the goodness of these men with whom I will be working for the rest of my life.

It is also good to see that these bishops with all their responsibilities and important positions are ultimately just men.  They have all the human issues that any other group of men from their late forties to their late seventies would have but it is truly inspiring to see their goodness and dignity.  Too often even in Catholic circles bishops are seen as distant authorities and maybe occasionally that perception is accurate but I have to say that does not describe my experience of them at all.  I have to believe that the "grace of office" truly does bring out the best in these men.  I hope you will pray with me that this grace will strengthen and bless me as well.

Let us pray for the Church and for these men who are called to be apostles today.  May The Lord guide us in His Ways and strengthen us in His Spirit.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Official Portrait

Another piece of the puzzle..........

Official Portrait



I especially like this picture because Our Lord in the image of the Sacred Heart is watching over me.  Please pray that I will always be strengthened by the special grace that Our Savior's Sacred Heart offers the world.  It is also a great blessing that I stand at the altar in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception the same altar where I celebrated mass as a newly ordained priest assigned to the parish of the Immaculate Conception and where I have celebrated countless masses since. 

A Quote

I liked this quote from Matthew Warner's Blog.

"Elections are not the leading edge of change. Elections are the lagging indicators of what's already changed"


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-warner/heres-the-lesson-from-the-election-folks#ixzz2BZyDcFCo

I believe there is a lot of truth in that statement.  It is not good news but it is important that as people of faith we recognize that it describes the realities we face.  Let us be strong in the Lord in professing and living our faith more fully each day so that the lost may be found and so that we may continue to seek the narrow path. 



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bishop Elect's Calendar

Calendar November 16 to December 2


********November 9- 16 Meeting out of town

November 16-  9:00 AM Mass at St. Patrick's School in Lufkin

November 17-  No Public Mass

November 18-  Out of town

November 19-  No public Mass

November 20-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop's Chapel in the Chancery

November 21-  8:00 AM Mass at the Bishop's Chapel in the Chancery

November 22-  9:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral

November 23-  No public Mass

November 24-  No public Mass

November 25-  10:00 AM Mass at the Cathedral with Bishop Corrada
                         12:00 PM Mass at the Cathedral as Celebrant

November 26-  No public Mass

November 27-  7:40 Mass in Gorman School Chapel

November 28-  2:00 PM Ordination Mass at Caldwell Auditiorium
                         (Televised live on cable and EWTN)

November 29-  8:15 St. Gregory Cathedral School Mass at Cathedral
                         9:45 Bishop Gorman School Mass

November 30-  7:40 AM Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

December 1-  10:00 AM Altar Server's Mass at Cathedral

December 2-
                       10:00 AM Mass at Cathedral
                       12:00 PM Mass at Cathedral



Coat of Arms


This is the Coat of Arms that has been produced as part of my ordination to the episcopacy.  One of the first things that Cardinal DiNardo said when we talked on September 14, just after I had received the call from the Nuncio was "start working on your Coat of Arms".  I can see why he said that because it is quite a process and I'm afraid several people were in danger of getting ulcers as they kept asking, "is it here yet"!!!!!!

A funny point in that story is that I emailed the priest who was working on the design and as it turned out he was in New Jersey and caught up in the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.  He apologized for being delayed but explained that he had no power after the storm, then I APOLOGIZED and felt like a bum after finding out he was dealing with much bigger problems than my Coat of Arms!

I will add the official description in a later post but the basic imagery in the Coat of Arms includes the following elements.  The left side is the Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Tyler.  The right side includes my personal images, at the top are the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart, the shell represents the Strickland family crest and is also in Pope Benedict XVI's Coat of Arms.  The wavy line is taken from the Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Dallas where I studied and was ordained to the priesthood.  The cross of stars represents the Southern Cross which is visible in Australia and is part of the Australian flag. 

All is coming together well for my Ordination.  I suppose one of the greatest challenges is the limited seating in Caldwell Auditiorium but our "team" is doing a great job of seeing to it that all of the diocese is at least represented. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers.  Please don't stop!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reflections




I wanted to share a few reflections as I continue my journey to the episcopacy. Even as I begin I realize that it is more accurate to speak of our journey to the episcopacy. Don’t worry I’m not adopting the “papal we” as the Holy Father at times speaks of himself in the plural. My point is that it really is the journey of a community to my ordination on November 28, at Caldwell Auditorium in Tyler at 2:00 PM. I keep repeating the details of the date, time and place so that no one makes the effort to drive in and they’ve been given the wrong time!!!!!!


It is our journey because the events that are unfolding are truly remarkable for the Catholic Church of East Texas. I have often tried to express the feeling that comes over me but I never seem to be satisfied that I have conveyed the message very well. I laughed with my sisters this past week as we celebrated my birthday because I often referred to this “feeling” in my conversation with them. I suppose one way of saying it is that the goodness and support of so many constantly reminds me that it truly is not so much about me as it is about the power of the Grace of God. I feel like part of a vast crowd looking on to see the wonders that God creates in our lives.

Those wonders presently are taking concrete form in a virtual of army of people working to make sure all the details of the Solemn Vespers and Ordination Mass are arranged perfectly. I am humbled by this loving service of so many. I know it springs from their commitment to faith and I also know that there is a genuine excitement because this army is made up of people who “know the guy” being ordained. I can say from my perspective that I share the excitement because these same people have been part of my family of faith for many many years. It calls to mind the words of Our Lord, “I know mine and mine know me”, it is a powerful blessing to really know the flock that I am being ordained to serve.

As I continue to prepare I am aware that the Lord has truly been molding me for quite some time. I am humbled to realize that I have been blessed with opportunities that many bishops elect have not experienced. I have celebrated enough Confirmations that I already have a way of celebrating that I am comfortable with but of course I realize some adjustments will have to be made as I begin to celebrate them as a bishop rather than a delegate of the bishop.

One of the more profound experiences for me was the recent dedication of the newly remodeled church of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Buffalo, Texas. By special delegation Bishop Corrada allowed me to preside over this dedication because he was not able to return to the diocese on that date. Normally the dedication of a church is reserved to a bishop but Bishop Corrada saw fit to delegate me as bishop elect. The moment of the liturgy that I found to be profoundly moving was the anointing of the altar. I had watched Bishop Corrada and other bishops celebrate this moment in the rite and it was always a very blessed ritual. I have to say that it was extremely moving to be the minister actually conducting this anointing. I was profoundly aware of the beauty of the Eucharistic altar as an image of Christ Himself and I very much felt his presence as I spread the sacred chrism across the top of the altar. I often speak of being humbled by various aspects of this journey but I must say that these words are not adequate for how it felt to anoint this altar as an image of Christ Himself.

All of this reminds me that saying to people “please pray for me” is not merely a way of responding to their kind greetings and congratulations. Indeed “please pray for me” should resonate through my ministry as bishop and profoundly remind me of my great responsibility to always follow with “as I pray for you”. Only in prayer can we begin to fathom even the tiniest elements of the wonder of Jesus Christ in His Church.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Calendar Update

I thought it would be helpful to update my calendar.  The items posted earlier have not changed.

October 29- No public mass scheduled


October 30- 7:40 Mass in Gorman School Chapel

October 31- 8:00 AM Mass in Bishop's Chapel at Chancery

10:00 AM Mass at Christ the King Church in Kilgore

Nov 1- No public mass scheduled

Nov 2- 7:40 AM Mass in Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

November 3 to November 9

November 3- No public mass scheduled

November 4-  9:00 AM Mass at St. Charles in Frankston
                       4:00 PM Candle Light Ceremony for Alzheimers
                       5:00 PM Prayer Vigil on the Square in Tyler
                       6:00 PM Mass at the Cathedral

November 5-  8:30 AM Mass at St. Joseph's School in Marshall
                      
November 6-  7:40 AM Mass in Gorman School Chapel

November 7-  8:00 AM Mass in Bishop's Chapel in Chancery

November 8-  7:00 PM Memorial Mass for Knights of Columbus

November 9-  7:40 AM Mass in Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul

November 9- 16  Meeting out of town
   

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Images


Our Catholic faith is rich with images and as I take on this new role of shepherding the Diocese of Tyler I am aware that many new images are entering my day to day vocabulary.

The images of the zucchetto and pectoral cross depicted in the attached photograph are only a few of the “new things” that I will have to get used to. As I’ve mentioned to friends and family I have tended to travel pretty lite. I’ve never worn hats or rings but I will necessarily have to become more comfortable with both. I realize even as I share this reflection that I truly am “only just beginning” to understand the impact of the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to call me to the Episcopacy. The miter, crozier and episcopal ring that I will receive as part of the Ordination Rite bring even more beautiful imager and profound meaning that speaks to the work that I am called to take on.


As you can probably imagine it is easy to get caught up in all of these images and signs of the office of bishop but I ask you to pray with me that I may stay focused on the most important elements of what these images represent in our ancient Catholic tradition. As I look at the simple silver cross that I have been wearing since the announcement on September 29, it occurs to me that I have seen much more ornate and beautiful crosses. Many crosses are layered in gold and encrusted with precious stones. In a very real sense this ornamentation is appropriate because the cross represents the greatest treasure of human history. On the other hand it is important to remember the origin of the cross in Christian tradition. Staying focused on the reality that the cross of Jesus Christ was a rough wooden instrument of torture and death calls us back to the most powerful elements of what the cross represents.

Catholic art has had a unique role in the history of civilization as we have seen the mysteries of God and the mission of His Son woven into virtually every aspect of human life and artistic expression. This is truly quite appropriate as we listen to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that every element of our human journey is to be transformed by the truth he has lived for us all. When we see a beautiful piece of art such as a golden crucifix or a beautiful marble altar let us remember that these images are very appropriate as they depict treasures beyond price but let us afford them the greatest power by allowing them to remind us of the simple elements in the life of our Lord and Savior that they represent.

God bless you all and let us continue to pray for one another.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two quotations

Since we last visited the whirlwind has continued with a wonderful time of Retreat at Subiaco Benedictine Abbey in Arkansas, a trip to Chicago to order cassocks etc. and my first opportunity to preside over the Dedication of a Church this past Sunday in Buffalo, Texas.  All of these events are material for lengthy reflections and hopefully I can share more of my thoughts soon. 

I wanted to share these two quotations that I have encountered over the past couple of days.  The first is a few lines from the remarks given by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his election as Bishop of Rome.  The second is a prayer offered by Cardinal Burke who presently serves in Rome.

Please pray with me that these words of Blessed John Paul will always guide my service as Bishop.

"Perhaps in the past the tiara, that triple crown, was placed on the Pope’s head in order to signify by that symbol the Lord’s plan for his Church, namely that all the hierarchical order of Christ’s Church, all “sacred power” exercised in the Church, is nothing other than service, service with a single purpose: to ensure that the whole People of God shares in this threefold mission of Christ and always remains under the power of the Lord; a power that has its source not in the powers of this world, but instead in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection." 

As the election on November 6, draws near these words of Cardinal Burke remind us of the precious gifts we have and the values we must cling to with all our might.


AN ELECTION YEAR PRAYER FOR THE FAITHFUL


WITNESS OF CATHOLICS IN THE UNITED STATES

By His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke,

Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

O Lord Jesus Christ,

You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In Your Church You show us the Way,

You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life.

Grant, we humbly beg You,

that, always and in all things, we may

be faithful to You in Your Holy Church,

and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff,

Pope Benedict XVI.

Grant also, we beg You,

that, in these times of decision,

all who profess to be Catholic

and who are entrusted with the sacred duty

to participate in public life,

may, by the strength of Your grace,

unwaveringly follow Your Way and

faithfully adhere to Your Truth,

living in You with all their mind and heart,

for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls,

and the good of our nation. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,

Pray for us.

Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom,

Pray for us.


Let us join in prayer for our nation and for our world. 

God bless you. 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bishop Elect's Calendar October 22- November 2



Note:  As I continue to become accustomed to my new responsibilities I will publish this as my public calendar.  Please assume that if a mass is posted here it will happen! I will do my best to update the calendar as needed but I apologize in advance because I know I will often not be able to respond to questions individually.  It has always been a joy to gather with you in prayer at the altar of the Lord, please know that if a mass is listed here you are welcome.  If you are not able to attend any of these masses let us be together in prayer as we gather at the altar of the Lord where ever we are.  God bless you. 



Calendar October 22 until November 2

October 22-  No public mass scheduled

October 23-  7:40 AM Mass in Gorman School Chapel

October 24-  8:00 AM Mass in Bishop's Chapel at Chancery

October 25-  2:30 PM Mass at Cloistered Dominican Monastery in Lufkin

October 26-  No public mass scheduled

October 27-  5:00 PM Mass at St. Mary Magdalene in Flint

October 28-  8:00 AM Mass in Chapel of Trinity Mother Frances Hospital
                   11:00 AM Confirmation Mass at St. Jude's Church in Henderson

October 29-  No public mass scheduled

October 30-  7:40 Mass in Gorman School Chapel

October 31-  8:00 AM Mass in Bishop's Chapel at Chancery
                   10:00 AM Mass at Christ the King Church in Kilgore

Nov 1-  No public mass scheduled

Nov 2-  7:40 AM Mass in Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mea Culpa

I've often said that I am a firm believer in the premise that priests should always be willing to say "I'm sorry".  I'm sure there are more significant infractions that I have failed to acknowledge but a dear friend alerted me to the fact that I've published some grammatical errors on this blog.  I won't promise that because I've been alerted I won't on occasion fall back into the abyss!!!  But I will promise to try to be more careful and remind myself that this is not just an email I'm zipping off to a friend. 

As I head into a busy weekend and then begin my retreat I wanted to share the following quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"Those, then, who are in a position of authority must look after their brothers as conscientious teachers look after the young children who have been handed over to them by their parents. If both disciples and masters have this loving relationship, then subjects will be happy to obey whatever is commanded, while superiors will be delighted to lead their brothers to perfection. If you try to outdo one another in showing respect, your life on earth will be like that of the angels."

Please pray that these days of retreat might help me to live these words more deeply as I prepare for ordination to the episcopacy.

I will do my best to post again on October 22, and continue to share my journey to ordination.




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Serenity


I like this picture of the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul under construction.  It has a nice peaceful feel and I need to breath, smile and find the quiet moments.  As you can imagine the calendar has revved up slightly in the past 10 days.  I'm enjoying every moment but I have to admit they are starting to blur together. 

I've managed to cover a few miles in the past few days.  Masses in Grand Saline and Emory on Sunday, mass with the Daughters of Divine Hope at their Convent in Marshall on Monday and Mass this morning for Saint Mary's School at St. Mary's Parish in Longview.

Things are coming together for the Ordination on November 28.  We have a major committee meeting on Friday.  I have ordered a ring and pectoral cross.  The design for the Coat of Arms has been sent to the artist.  The crozier is being ordered and I will be fitted for vestments next week.  Bishop Corrada was kind enough to fed ex a choir cassock and the other items I need for a formal portrait so that is being scheduled also. 

I'm glad I already have my retreat scheduled for next week in Subiaco, Arkansas,  it will be a great opportunity to get away from all of this planning and remember what it is really all about.  I said at the Press Conference that my main job is to be a man of prayer.  I'm beginning to see how challenging that is and how very important it is.  As people continue to congratulate me I constantly say please pray for me.  If you are reading this please know that is the greatest gift you can give me.  PRAY PRAY PRAY and then PRAY some more!!!!!!!!!

We launch the Year of Faith as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, October 11.  Let us rejoice together in this opportunity to give thanks for the Gift of Faith and seek new ways to deepen our Faith and share it with others.

God Bless. 

Calendar of the Bishop Elect October 13 - 21

October 11-  Mass to Begin the Year of Faith
                     10:30 Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

October 12-  Daily Mass at Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul- 7:40AM

October 13-  Confirmation at St. Joseph's in Marshall, 10:00 AM

October 14-  Masses at St. Catherine's in Atlanta, Texas
                     9:00 AM English  11:30 AM Spanish

October 14-  Closing Banquet of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre
                     6:00 PM Tulsa, Oklahoma,  Renaissance Marriott

October 15-18  Retreat in Preparation for Episcopal Ordination
                         Please Pray for the Bishop Elect

October 20-    Confirmation at St. Luke's, Wills Point, 5:00 PM

October 21-  Confirmation at St. Mary's Longview, 11:30 AM
                     Confirmation at St. Peter's Mineola, 5:00 PM

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Tribute to my brother priests

If you read this and your not a priest please pass it on to all the priests you know.  If you are a priest please receive it as a small expression of thanks for all you do and pass it on to a brother who may need a boost. 

A Catholic priest is a man of God but shares all the hopes, fears, dreams, concerns and daily challenges of every other man. 

He often finds himself alone but at any moment he may be called into the most significant moments of another person's life.  The door bell rings, a cell phone buzzes, there's a knock on the door or the office phone clangs and in a moment he goes from alone and quiet to "ministry mode" congratulating on a new birth, consoling in the midst of crisis, accepting an invitation to dinner, offering comfort at the news of a death, trying to calm a complaining parishioner or simply accepting the latest blurb that MUST be included in the next bulletin.

He often finds himself surrounded by a crowd of people but at any moment transported to a deep and quiet place where he encounters the Lord alone.  Often this occurs at mass when the words from a hymn, a glimpse of a familiar face, as favorite phrase from scripture or an oft repeated line from the ritual of the mass cause him to pause and be reminded of the deep purpose of his life. 

In between these moments the priest finds himself going about the business of life with all his brothers and sisters.  The myriad of normal daily life images that every man encounters from the sublime thoughts of the mysteries of God encountered on a marble altar to the realization that he really does need to see what that "check engine" light on the dashboard of his car is all about. 

When priests fail those they are called to serve, when they stumble in their own sinfulness or when their patience wears thin..........remember they are just men.
Men called by the Lord to do great things in the name of Jesus Christ God's own son. 

Pray for your priest as they pray for you.

Dedicated to the priests of the Diocese of Tyler

A Photo

I have to laugh because I thought there were already more than enough photos of me especially with all the Confirmation photo ops lately...........but I have the feeling the photo ops are just getting started. 

Another busy day learning how to be a bishop.  I truly enjoyed the masses at Gorman and St. Gregory.  I've always loved the kids and they definitely make me feel loved in return.

One cute moment to share.............I was talking to the St. Gregory students about the fuchsia zuchetto a bishop wears and explaining that Cardinals wear a red zuchetto and the Pope wears a white one.  As kids often do one little guy raised his hand and said, "I don't like the cardinals", for a brief moment I was surprised but then I realized and said to him, "oh you mean the baseball team" and he noded yes.

I was relieved to clarify that little misunderstanding.  I would hate to think one of our third graders had a grudge against the Pope's College!!!!

Thanks for all your great support.  I'll try to keep sharing the little stories as they occur. 

God Bless. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Signs of the Times


Couldn't resist sharing this!!!

Thanks to Msgr. Xavier Pappu and the community of St. Matthew's
in Longview for their prayers and support.





That's what calendars are for................

I'm sure you aren't surprised that there is already a change in the calendar I posted.  I am blessed to be able to have mass at St. Mary's Catholic School in Longview next Tuesday, October 9, at 8:00 AM so I will not be able to have mass at the Gorman School Chapel that morning. 

This picture is of the beautiful crucifix that hangs in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul.  I love this picture especially because it is unique.  Now the backdrop of this crucifix is not the sky but the image of the Risen Christ in stained glass.  The stained glass is beautiful but I'm glad we have this beautiful image of the crucifix with the sky as the backdrop also. 

Speaking of school masses, I really enjoyed celebrating my first mass with the Bishop Gorman School community as bishop elect this morning at 9:45 in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul that you have read so much about.  The students seemed to enjoy it also since I baptized so many of them and now I am their bishop. 

Today Bishop Corrada left to return to Puerto Rico and I have to admit the reality "sunk a little deeper" that I will soon be the Ordinary and the canonical head of the Diocese of Tyler.  The Church has a tradition that every bishop is canonically attached to a specific diocese.  Auxiliary bishops are assigned what is called a titular see which is usually a surpressed diocese somewhere in the world.  I have to say when I first learned this I was a little taken aback, what do you mean a surpressed diocese.  I have come to learn that it is a beautiful example of the organic reality of the Catholic Church as she moves through history.  Capital cities, governments and even nations come and go; populations centers develop and then recede and the Catholic Church is there through it all.

The United States is such a young nation compared with other nations and the history of the Church. It is hard for us to relate to some of the realities that develop through the march of history.  I feel especially blessed that I have been named to a diocese that is not only very much alive but is poised for tremendous growth in the next twenty-five years.  Even in this country in the north east older diocese face the grim realities of having to close and reconfigure parishes.  Through it all the Church continues to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. 

What a blessing to be working in a young diocese, in a young nation in the ancient Catholic Church that spans 2000 years of history.  Let us pray together that we may take advantage of these exciting times and joyfully build the Kingdom of God guided by His Word, His Love and His Abundant Grace. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Calendar of Bishop Elect Joseph Strickland

October 3 to 12

October 3-  Bishop Gorman Regional School Mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul..........9:45AM

October 4-  St. Gregory Cathedral School Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 8:15 AM

October 5-  Daily mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul 7:40 AM

October 7-   Sunday Masses in Emory and Grand Saline

October 9-  Daily mass in Bishop Gorman School Chapel 7:40 AM

October 11-  Mass to begin the Year of Faith at the Cathedral with priests of the diocese 10:30 AM

October 12-  Daily mass at the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul 7:40 AM

Let us continue to pray for one another

A New Dawn



I know the title of this post is a little "over the top" but I guess I feel a little over the top right now.  I think most of you will forgive me at least for a few more days!!!  Somehow it seems completely fitting to me that this "new dawn" picture has the announcement of my call to the episcopacy with the Chapel of Saint's Peter and Paul in the background.  I'm sure for a lot of us these images conjur up a lot of reflections on the wonder of God's grace in this community.

I've appreciated the on line comments and in person comments of so many of you and it seems that my idea of sharing my journey to the episcopacy is accomplishing exactly what I hoped it would.  I hope that as you hear the touching or humorous stories that it will draw you closer to your deacons, priest and bishops and most importantly closer to the Lord.  After all he lived his life as a simple carpenter.  I like to imagine what His reaction would be.  Ultimately the images and symbols of the episcopacy of His Church have a beautiful and rich history that speaks of the devotion of God's people through the ages.

Speaking of symbols of the episcopacy, Bishop Corrada has been a tremendous help in guiding me regarding the proper protocols and customs of this time between the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI has named me Bishop of Tyler and my ordination on November 28, at 2:00 PM in Caldwell Auditorium.

The miter (triangular bishop's hat) the crozier (bishop's staff) and the bishop's ring are all given to the bishop as part of the ordination liturgy.  During these two months the bishop has instructed me that it is proper for me to use the pectoral cross (cross the bishop wears on a chain around his neck) and the zuchetto (the dark pink skull cap).  As Bishop Corrada and I discussed the announcement last week and his introduction of me at the Cathedral liturgies at first I was just going to borrow one of his zuchettos and his pectoral cross.  As it turned out I am able to use the pectoral cross that Bishop Herzig received for his ordination as our first bishop.  This was a very special gift for me to be able to use his pectoral cross because I was there at his ordination and served as one of the masters of ceremonies. 

Father Anthony McLaughlin was going to let me use a zuchetto that he keeps on had at the Cathedral but Bishop Corrada was kind enough to give me one so that is the zuchetto I will use during this time.  I have to admit it takes a little getting used to wearing the pectoral cross and the zuchetto.  As I mentioned in an earlier post I've already had one slight "wardrobe malfunction" when I had the zuchetto on at the wrong time during the mass.  I guess the bright side is that most of us don't know these protocols of a bishop so maybe my mistakes won't be too noticable.

It occurs to me that a lot of my time will be taken up in the next several days with getting "things" in order.  Please pray that I can stay focused on "the people" I am preparing to serve.  The things can be beautiful images as long as they stay connected to the service of the People of God that they signify. 

Bishop Corrada has been more than kind throughout this time.  He is a very gracious man.  Last night it was a joy for me to preside at the Red Mass at the Cathedral at the invitation of the bishop.  After the mass last night he said, "you truly presided like a bishop" and from Bishop Corrada who is truly an expert I receive this comment as the highest of compliments.

Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.  I celebrated mass this morning in the small chapel upstairs in Gorman School and I mentioned that my guardian angel had received an upgrade in responsibility.  I will need him whispering the constant message of God's love and grace as all our guardian angels do as I continue this journey.

More to come....................so stay tuned.

OH SACRED HEART OF JESUS I PLACE MY TRUST IN THEE..............IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY I ASK THEE PRAY FOR ME.  GOD BLESS.


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Blessed Weekend

September 29 and 30

Just a few thoughts about the most amazing weekend in my 53 years.  

As you might guess I woke up early on Saturday morning and was already composing emails before the embargo lifted and the secret of my appointment could be shared.  I'm not sure how many emails and texts I sent but as I said in the Press Conference my iphone was overheating!!!  Since that 5:00 AM opening of the floodgates it has been a blur of activity.

Wisely, Jim Smith (Finance Officer of the Diocese and a Huge support to me) suggested that Bishop Corrada and I should wait in his office until people were in place in the St. Paul Conference Room.  It was a great quiet before the storm for Bishop Corrada and I to discuss a few things that we hadn't had the time to talk about.  

I will always remember that image of the conference room when I walked in with Bishop Corrada and saw the crowd.  It will always be for me a visual image of what OVERwhelming really means.  I'm so glad that we have video of the PC because it was all a blur for me.  It is nice to be able to go back and realize what actually happened.  The rest of that day unfolded as a wonderful gift of the goodness of the people I have served for 27 years.  Some of you may have kept up with a blog that had a slight influence in my life whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com Rocco Palmo's posts there have been truly over the top but very gratefully received.  

Sunday I joined Bishop Corrada for 10 and 1:30 mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  I can't describe the joy I felt in being assigned to serve this wonderful community for the 3rd time.  First as a newly ordained assistant priest, second as Rector and now as the Bishop.  Bishop Corrada was wonderfully gracious as he allowed me to take the principle post for distribution of communion and left the cathedra (official bishop's chair) empty as a symbol of waiting for my ordination when I will formally take it as the chair from which I will serve the 33 counties, 80,000 Catholics and over 1,000,000 souls in the Diocese of Tyler.

I'll share a funny moment before I close.  As bishop elect I wear the pectoral cross and the zuchetto (the dark pink beanie) because the other symbols of the office of bishop the crozier, miter and episcopal ring are all given to the new bishop during the ordination liturgy.  I've never worn hats or rings but I guess I will have to get used to both.  I managed to keep the zuchetto on during the mass and as the Eucharistic prayer began I even remembered to remove it.  My mistake came after communion.  I was so anxious to remember to put the zuchetto back on that I put it on too early.  The bishop does not put the zuchetto back on until the Blessed Sacrament has been returned to the tabernacle.  Our great Master of Ceremonies, Vincent Meinzer, just looked at me and kind of waved his hand over is head.......I got the hint and blushing profusely tried to remove the zuchetto as unobtrusively as possible.  Bishop Corrada was gracious enough to pretend he didn't even notice!!!!!
I have a lot more to learn than the protocol for zuchettos but hopefully I've got that little detail memorized!!!!

Stayed tuned.  More to come as this amazing journey unfolds.  God bless you and let us pray for one another.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It all started with a phone call

Pope Benedict XVI greets the 4th Bishop of Tyler-  No I didn't just make a quick trip to Rome.  This picture was taken at the ad limina visit to which I accompanied Bishop Corrada last March.  Some said at the time "is this picture prophetic??" I suppose it was. 
                               
I thought it would be fun to use my blog therunningpriest.blogspot.com to let you all walk this journey with me.




On Friday, September 14, at about 9:30 am I was in my office and the phone rang. I answered as I usually tend to “Fr. Joe” and on the other end of the line a rather soft accented voice said “Is this Msgr. Joseph Strickland?” I said yes and my mind began to race! I have to admit I cannot accurately tell you what the Nuncio said next but the gist of it was that he Archbishop Vigano was calling on behalf of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to inform me that the Holy Father was asking me to be Bishop of Tyler. The Nuncio simply said “do you accept”. After a pause during which I was attempting to restart my heart, untie my tongue and unscramble my brain all at the same time I must have said something resembling “yes”!!!



I must have said yes because Archbishop Vigano then began immediately to talk about what would happen next. He said he would contact Bishop Corrada as the most recent bishop of the diocese and Cardinal Archbishop Daniel Dinardo, the Metropolitan for this part of Texas and inform them. He then said that he would like to schedule the announcement for September 29, 2012. He noted that it was a Saturday but said that should be alright and that it was the best date for the announcement in light of his schedule. My first thought was that I had a class to teach that Saturday morning and I blurted that out to the Nuncio. At that point there was simply silence so I quickly got the message and said “but I can arrange my schedule for the announcement on September 29”.



Very soon after this phone call Bishop Alvaro Corrada called to congratulate me and then also Cardinal Dinardo. Immediately they both began advising me regarding choosing a date for the ordination etc. etc. etc. Believe me there is a lot of etc. there!!!!!!!!!



I will always remember the Cardinal’s kindness in immediately beginning to give me pointers regarding what I should do next. So here I was within the space of an hour going from routine work in my office to working on a “how to be ordained a bishop” to do list.



As you can imagine one of the things that began to sink in was that I could not share this news until September 29th, two weeks to keep the biggest secret of my life. I’m a pretty quiet guy but even for me keeping this a secret for two weeks won’t be easy.



September 15



The next day I went to pick up my dear friend Archbishop Michael Sheehan at the airport in Dallas because he was scheduled to celebrate mass and speak at the Cathedral’s Roses and Rosaries event on September 16. You can imagine how my mind raced through various memories during that weekend. A bit of a disclaimer here……….if anyone happened to witness me walking down the hall or on the sidewalk and just laughing hysterically now you know I hadn’t completely lost my mind……….or maybe!!!!!!!???



September 18 & 19



It was certainly interesting to represent Bishop Corrada at the Texas Catholic Conference and meet with the bishop’s of Texas with my little secret. Of course Cardinal Dinardo knew but none of the other bishops were aware or at least they didn’t let on that they had heard my news.



I have to share a funny moment at the meeting. The lay staff and I stepped out of the room as the bishops went into executive session. As we sat in the lobby area of the hotel waiting for the bishop’s to call us back in as you can imagine some of the staff members were asking me when Tyler was going to get a bishop. I gave one of my usual vague responses and one of the ladies just looked at me and asked “Are we talking to him?” I’ve always had a tendency to turn beet red at moments like that so I may have let the cat out of the bag!!!! After I made a feeble attempt to answer the question the group was kind enough to just move on with the conversation.



September 22 and 23



This weekend I participated in the St. Gregory Fun Run and celebrated Confirmation at the Cathedral at 5:30 mass on Saturday and then again at 1:30 mass in Spanish on Sunday. I have to say that it was a great joy to know that in a week it would be announced that I would be bishop of this flock. Joy has been the pervasive emotion I have felt since that phone call on September 14, but I’m also well aware of the great responsibility to serve the people of God that I will take on.



September 24



One week and counting until the big announcement. I’ve stayed busy with the usual activities plus things like preparing a Curriculum Vitae for the Press Conference on September 29, preparing remarks that I will give at the Press Conference and writing letters of thanks to the Holy Father and Bishops that will be sent as soon as the news becomes public.



Today I participated in an event for the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County where Leeza Gibbons spoke. As you can imagine my mother who suffered with Alzheimers for ten years was very much on my mind. I know that my parents reaction to the news that I am to be the fourth bishop of Tyler would be a mixture of great joy and concern for the responsibilities the role involves. I have an idea that the reaction of my siblings will very much mirror the joy and concern my parents would have felt.  In the later years before my mother became very ill with alzheimer's and my responsibilities in the diocese continued to grow, my mother often said, "I need to talk to your bishop and tell him to quit piling on".  I guess I'll be the one "piling on work" for my brother priests to do now.  I'll try to remember they have mom's too!!!!!!!!



I will pick up Bishop Corrada at the airport on Wednesday, September 26. As soon as the news hit that Bishop Corrada had changed his original dates for a visit the speculation began to heat up with people asking if an announcement was coming soon. I suppose my primary technique for fielding the questions has been simply to laugh a lot and say that we certainly hope it will be soon. It will be interesting to know how many people have begun to suspect my news. I have never been much of a poker player!!!!!



September 26-28



A nice interlude here with the installation of the Lamb of God window in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul (see earlier post for pictures).



I picked up the Bishop Wednesday evening and we had dinner at his home and discuss various details of the announcement and ordination. He was a big help because he has been involved in the life of bishops since his ordination as auxiliary of Washington, D.C. in 1985.



I didn’t’ get much sleep last night, just a busy mind racing with many things. I’m hoping I get a good nights sleep tonight so that I don’t look exhausted at the Press Conference.



More to come as the Journey to the Episcopacy continues.


The Third and Fourth Bishops of Tyler greet
Pope Benedict XVI