Why would anyone want to be a bishop?
A few weeks back, one of the Catholic news services carried an interview with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the pope’s point person for the naming of bishops around the globe. The headlines all pointed to his statement that it is no longer “exceptional” to have priests decline an appointment to the episcopacy.
Some priests, it seems, look at the job description of a bishop and see all “onus” and little “bonus.” I sure wish those men could have been with me in the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul on the first Sunday of Lent (or with Bishop Andrew Cozzens at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis) for the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. What a privilege it was to be able to meet those who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church this Easter, as well as those family members and fellow parishioners who have been walking with them on this journey.
Our preliminary numbers show that there will be 215 adults and children of catechetical age who will be baptized in the parishes of the archdiocese at the Easter Vigil this year, a slight increase over last year.
They will begin their sacramental lives as Catholics along with nearly 450 others who, having been baptized in another Christian community or church, are now opting to enter the Catholic Church.
While adults choosing to enter the Church often speak of having been motivated by their hunger for the Eucharist, or the beauty of the liturgy, or the internal consistency of Church teaching, or an appreciation of the Church’s history stretching all the way back to Christ, most will also speak about the concrete witness to the Catholic faith given by family members or friends or colleagues who joyfully manage to put their faith into action, or who manifest an inner strength in times of crisis, or who seem to have an unwavering moral compass.
Those stories remind us of the opportunities that we all have to be missionary disciples who take seriously Christ’s words to his Church before ascending to heaven: Go and make disciples. Our Catholic faith is missionary at its core.
For the last few weeks, the area around the Cathedral has been abuzz with another round of Crashed Ice, an event that brings 100,000 visitors into contact with the “Mother Church” of the archdiocese. I was delighted to see that the young adults group at the Cathedral recognized this as an extraordinary opportunity for witnessing to our faith, for evangelizing. I received one of the thousands of handouts they distributed, presenting a brief history of the Cathedral, some information on Mass times and the schedule for confessions, and a cheery invitation to join in and learn more. Pope Francis would be thrilled by the outreach.
We can only hope that many who encountered those young adults or found their way into the quiet and splendor of the Cathedral during Crashed Ice might come back. The Lord did not find his first disciples in the synagogue, but on the seashore.
Let’s pray that some of this year’s visitors might even find their way to next year’s Rite of Election or Call to Continuing Conversion, giving your new archbishop, whoever he might be, a very good reason for being thrilled that he said “yes.”
Category: From the Chancery