Farewell Is A Bittersweet Task
Acchording to my reckoning, it doesn't seem too long ago that I was sitting at my desk in Washington writing an introductory column for the Fairfield County Catholic. Now, here I sit at my desk in Trumbull writing a farewell column. It is a bittersweet task.
Since my appointment as Archbishop of Baltimore was announced a few weeks ago, many have said to me, "Well, bishop, you're returning home." It is true that, as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, I lived for many years in Maryland and "The Free State" was very much my home. It is also an amazing thing for me to contemplate the prospect of becoming a successor to Archbishop John Carroll in serving the nation's oldest diocese. I am indeed grateful to the Lord and to the Holy Father for calling me to this responsibility and look forward to my future service, aided by your prayers and enabled by God's grace.
Yet I also have the keen sense of leaving home. For the past eleven years, the Diocese of Bridgeport has not been my job, but rather, my life. Almost as soon as I began serving here, I realized what a beautiful diocese this is and began to put down deep roots. Those roots were deepened every time I visited a parish or celebrated Confirmation or attended a Catholic Charities breakfast or visited a school. My attachment to the diocese increased as I came to know the priests and deacons who serve here so faithfully, along with the religious sisters. And throughout my years, I came to know some of the finest Catholic families and lay leaders to be found anywhere. They have greatly strengthened the Church's mission of proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and serving in charity. Through the years, friendships were formed that I hope and pray will always be a real part of my life and ministry.
It's no secret that these haven't always been the easiest of years. One has only to think of 9/11 or the sexual abuse crisis or the severe economic downturn of the past few years or struggles with the State Legislature. Yet, in the midst of it all, the Lord has remained present among us, pouring forth his grace in great abundance. It is when we are tested that we are purified, grow stronger, and become more united. And it seems that the Lord continually raises up in our diocese men and women of deep faith with excellent talents and skills to help guide and strengthen the Church in these challenging times. So often it just seemed to me that the right person walked through the door at just the right time to help with exactly the right project. How blessed I have been in my co-workers—priests, deacons, religious, and laity.
Just a few nights ago, I attended what is called a Project Andrew Dinner hosted by the rector and seminarians at St. John Fisher Seminary. About twenty young men who are thinking about the priesthood attended the dinner. It was one of many of moments when I prayerfully reflected on how the Lord is blessing this diocese with a growing number of seminarians of high caliber. I thought about what a joy it would be to work with them in serving God's people in Fairfield County.
As this column goes to press, I am preparing to attend a dinner to help raise funds for an addition for the Queen of the Clergy Residence for the retired priests of the diocese, a home that is marked by prayerfulness, priestly fraternity, and ongoing apostolic zeal. Both the seminarians who have opened their hearts to a priestly vocation and the priests in their advancing years who continue in a spirit of loving service give great hope to those of us who are "in between."
A little more than month ago, I took part in an annual youth Congress known as "Convivio." Nearly 400 young people from around the diocese were there. As I mingled with the participants, I sensed a beautiful openness to the Lord and to the faith. Every time I visit a school I see young people being formed in the faith in a setting marked by academic excellence, joy, and respect. Yes, the challenges and problems abound but the grace of God more abounds! Many of you have graciously offered me your prayers and good wishes as I prepare to serve the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I shall rely on your prayers in this time of transition even as I have relied on your prayers throughout my service to the Diocese of Bridgeport. I shall always be grateful to the Lord for permitting me to be your bishop and I shall always remember you gratefully in my prayers. May the Lord bless you always and keep you in his love!
A message from Rev. Mark Connolly and the Staff at Spirituality for Today
On March 20, 2012, the Most Rev. William Lori was named Archbishop of Baltimore by Pope Benedict. Bishop Lori has been a long time contributor to Spirituality for Today and Thoughts for the Week. We are deeply grateful to Bishop Lori for all the years he was part of our magazine and radio program.
We want to express our congratulations and best wishes for much success on his new appointment.