“And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” —Mk 10:52
Just after my arrival as your bishop in the spring of 2008, I wrote my first column for The Mirror. In it, I announced that the title of the then weekly column would be, “On the Way.” This phrase is used frequently in the New Testament to describe those who encounter Jesus Christ, and follow him as disciples. For example, we recently heard about blind Bartimaeus, and the reading concluded, “he received his sight and followed him on the way.”
“For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” —Lk 19:10
The word “pontiff” derives from the Latin pontifex, which means literally “bridge-builder.” This term is often used in reference to the pope. Having just returned from several days in Washington and Philadelphia for Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States, I have a new appreciation for this title. In fact, one could argue that this is the term that best captures the pontificate of Francis—he is about building bridges. It was remarkable how many diverse and often divided people were drawn together by his presence and words.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you …” —Rom 1:8
On Tue., Sept. 15, 2015, it was publicly announced in Rome, and here in Missouri, that Pope Francis has appointed me to be the next Bishop of Kansas City—St. Joseph. My installation there will take place on Nov. 4, 2015, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo.
It is with faith and trust in the grace and love of Jesus Christ and in God’s providential designs, that I accept the appointment of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to be the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. I am very humbled and honored by the Holy Father’s appointment to be your next bishop. Pope Francis is known for surprises and he certainly gave me one several days ago when I was informed by the apostolic nuncio of his decision. I will do my best to live up to the trust that he has placed in me and be the best bishop I can for you.
I pledge to serve you with generosity, kindness, and charity. I will strive to be a good shepherd to you so that we can, together, live the truth in love and be effective witnesses to the Gospel of salvation and the beauty of our Catholic Faith. I look forward to working with our priests and deacons, our consecrated women and men religious, and with all of our wonderful lay women and men. Every one of us has an important place and mission within the Church, which comes through our baptism. I am eager to join all of you in putting our focus and passion on loving Jesus, serving Jesus, and sharing Jesus.
This morning in Rome, Pope Francis announced that he has appointed me to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. I have accepted his appointment, trusting in the love of Jesus Christ and God’s mysterious providence. In doing so, I cannot deny my sadness at the prospect of departing the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. These 7 ½ years as your bishop have been some of the happiest of my life. I love all of you and will always love this great diocese.
My installation in Kansas City is set for November 4, 2015. I will serve as the diocesan administrator here, until that date, after which a diocesan administrator will be elected by the diocesan college of consultors.
“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” —Rv 19:9
Every day we are made aware of important events occurring in our world, and occasionally, beyond our world. With our wireless devices, we are enabled to get news immediately. Among all the events that occur every day, one is far and away more important than all others: the Mass.
The priests of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau have had the faculty not only to absolve the sin of abortion, but also to remove any other obstacles such as an ecclesiastical censure so that an individual may be fully reconciled to God and to the Church. This authorization applies to members of our diocese, as well as those from other dioceses who are actually present within our diocese. The priests of the Diocese have had this faculty granted to them by the bishop for decades. While the teachings of the Church are consistent, the faculties of some priests may be different in other parts of the world. The recent comments of Pope Francis extending priests’ authority for the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy is meant to facilitate more accessible reconciliation, healing, and mercy throughout the universal Church. This is consistent with his pastoral approach on many issues. In relation to our own priests, it actually extends their faculty to absolve and remit penalties to anyone seeking forgiveness, anywhere, during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” -—from the film, “The Wizard of Oz”
Most people are familiar with the scene in the film, “The Wizard of Oz,” in which Dorothy’s dog, Toto, pulls the curtain back, exposing the “great and terrible” Wizard of Oz to be an ordinary man from Omaha, NE, named Oscar Diggs. It turns out that the Wizard was an illusion, created by a lot of special effects, distractions, and impressive-sounding talk. Until the unveiling, all in Oz were kept in control, persuaded by an illusion.