Archbishop Hebda impresses local pastors and parish leaders with personality, knowledge

| May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Father Rick Banker, pastor of St. Rita in Cottage Grove, share a laugh following an April 17 Mass celebrating the parish’s 50th anniversary. Dianne Towalski/For The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Father Rick Banker, pastor of St. Rita in Cottage Grove, share a laugh following an April 17 Mass celebrating the parish’s 50th anniversary. Dianne Towalski/For The Catholic Spirit

Those who have had some close-up contact with Archbishop Bernard Hebda during his brief time in Minnesota say they like what they’ve seen in the new ordinary of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Father Rick Banker, the pastor of St. Rita in Cottage Grove, appreciated the effort Archbishop Hebda put into celebrating the 50th anniversary Mass at the parish on Good Shepherd Sunday in April.

“He did a wonderful job,” Father Banker said, noting that the archbishop was familiar with phrases the parish has been using to celebrate its history. “His homily was great, tying in listening to the ‘voice of the shepherd’ with our 50 years of ‘connecting faith and life’ and the dedication of our new faith formation wing.”

The archbishop’s personal anecdote of being a “city boy” and not knowing much about rural life and sheep herding was a great segue that helped parishioners appreciate what the people of Jesus’ time would have understood in the passage about the Good Shepherd, Father Banker added.

In meeting and visiting with folks at the reception after Mass, Archbishop Hebda was at ease and exhibited a wonderful sense of humor, Father Banker added.

“[While] experiencing him firsthand in the parish setting, the thought that came to my mind was, ‘He demonstrates the leadership and care of a true shepherd, with the warmth and humility of a fellow traveler,’” he said.

He heard from many parishioners, “Oh, the new archbishop is so down to earth and approachable.”

Father Banker was impressed, too.

“As a priest of the archdiocese for 28 years, I think Archbishop Hebda is just the man to lead us at this time,” Father Banker said. “I believe he has all the qualities we need right now to continue the healing process and move us forward as a local Church.

“I was excited when he was appointed,” he added. “After seeing him close up in the parish setting, I’m even more excited.”

Formation talk

Franciscan Sister Katarina Schuth, who holds the Endowed Professorship for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, said she is impressed by the many spiritual and personal gifts that Archbishop Hebda brings to the archdiocese.

She recalled speaking with him during a visit to Seton Hall University near Newark, New Jersey, last year.

“What I remember especially about our conversation is both the archbishop’s expansive knowledge and understanding of the role and purpose of seminaries, and his lively interest in the characteristics of programs and the ambiance of seminaries in general,” she said.

Sister Katarina, who is noted for her research on seminaries and Church life and teaches in the areas of pastoral ministry, sociology of religion, and world religions, said, “We are blessed to have someone who has already shown so much care about all aspects of our local Church, including the education and formation of future priests and lay ministers.”

Connecting with kids

Michelle Davis, youth minister at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Delano, said she is excited for the future of the archdiocese after seeing Archbishop Hebda relate well with young people during a confirmation rite at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul this spring.

“One of our confirmation students caught Archbishop Hebda on his way out,” Davis said, “and [the archbishop] came back and took a picture with our student and his family and other confirmation students that were still there.

“He didn’t appear to be in a hurry and took the time to relate with those around him,” Davis said. “He’s easy to talk to and will make a great shepherd.”

Father Cletus Basekela and Hanna Younce, pastor and youth minister, respectively, of St. Jerome in Maplewood, noted in an email that the archbishop impressed at confirmation liturgies for their young people, too.

“Archbishop Hebda pulled the confirmation candidates into the Mass from the moment he stepped out of the sanctuary into the nave,” they wrote. “He engaged the confirmands into the sacrament and connected with them by his easy-going nature.

“While questioning them as he explained his role and their role, he soon had made what could often be a sacrament that is less personal (due to the amount of participants) into a very real individual experience,” they noted. “We look forward to his upcoming and continued leadership, guidance and personal touch as he joins the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese as our shepherd.”

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Category: Welcome Archbishop Hebda