Copeland’s words signal core of faith, archdiocese’s future

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | October 8, 2015
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, greets Pope Francis Sept. 23 after midday prayer with U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. L’Osservatore Romano

Archbishop Bernard Hebda, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, greets Pope Francis Sept. 23 after midday prayer with U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. L’Osservatore Romano

“Come and soak the feet of the poor with me.”

Were this a Jeopardy clue, I could easily imagine a contestant responding, “What did St. Francis say to St. Clare in 12th-century Assisi?” or “What did Jesus say to his disciples in the Upper Room?”

In reality, it was the invitation extended by the Twin Cities’ very own Mary Jo Copeland to Pope Francis at their recent meeting in Washington, D.C. (See Bishop Andrew Cozzens’ reflection.)

While others may have been debating the finer points of papal protocol, Mary Jo’s heart spoke plainly to the heart of Pope Francis in the language they both seem to know best: that of humble, Christ-centered service.

In our preliminary listening sessions, a hope has repeatedly been voiced that the Holy Father will send this archdiocese a shepherd who will be able to restore trust, who will be capable of uniting and reviving a flock that, to some, seems fragmented or fatigued by all the talk of investigations, bankruptcy and settlements. A leader who, “like Pope Francis,” can speak to the young and the not-so-young, the devout and the distant, the affluent and the struggling, and offer us hope — all while making us “feel proud again to be Catholic.” Talk about big shoes to fill! I’m already praying daily for the next archbishop, whoever he might be, and hope that you are, too.

While I, as a newcomer, wouldn’t pretend to know enough about this local Church to even begin to offer the next archbishop any advice, I have a hunch that the path forward is going to begin at Mary Jo Copeland’s Sharing and Caring Hands or Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Center or at the countless parish outreach programs that bring us into contact with Christ present in our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Pope Francis began his pontificate calling for “a poor Church for the poor” not because he exalts human misery but because he knows from experience, as well as from sacred Scripture, that it is among those in need that we are going to find Jesus, the only one who can unite us and revive us and heal us.

I am inspired as I hear about this Catholic community’s longstanding commitment to service — a story told as much by the bricks and mortar of the Catholic schools, hospitals and social service centers that dot the archdiocese as by the countless hours of volunteer service still offered by Catholics throughout its 12 counties.

It’s when we are focused on the needs of others and are pouring ourselves out in service that we come closest to Christ and touch the core of who we are as Catholics. It’s then that we’re going to be energized and unified, it’s then that we’re going to be able to preach with credibility, and it’s then that we’re going to know the joy that flows from living out our vocation as disciples.

“Come and soak the feet of the poor with me.”

Palabras de Copeland llegan a lo profundo de la fe católica y al futuro de la arquidiócesis

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Category: Only Jesus

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