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


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.



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


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 stay tuned.


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 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.