Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Some 36 years ago, recently ordained, a more seasoned priest said to me: “Welcome to the greatest adventure of your life!” He was speaking about the priesthood.
I now affirm that he was correct — these years have been ones of grace and blessing. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to God for the call to priesthood and for each assignment that I had over these years — from the parishes I served in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to auxiliary bishop there; then to Springfield, Mass.; and now to the Church in St. Louis. When Archbishop Christophe Pierre telephoned me a few months ago telling me that the Holy Father had named me Archbishop of St. Louis, I was left to reflect on the mysteriousness of the Lord’s ways. And now, in a faith-filled way, our paths cross on our journey to the Lord.
Archbishop Emeritus Robert Carlson shared with me the joy he felt over the past 11 years serving as chief shepherd of St. Louis. His love for you, the people of God here, is palpable as he describes what these years have meant to him. I express, again, my profound thanks to Archbishop Carlson for his graciousness during this time of transition and his willingness to be available for any advice or counsel.
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Hermann and Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso have also shared their love for you as well as their enthusiasm for serving you, the people of God. The priests, deacons, men and women religious and laypersons whom I have met over these past weeks also have shared with me their love of serving God and His good people. Thank you for making me feel so welcome and at home here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis!
Over these past six months, we have heard the word “unprecedented” to describe the times we are experiencing. The COVID-19 virus has adversely impacted all of our lives. As Catholics, who love to gather for liturgy, study and socials, this has been an especially trying time. The period of social unrest, heightened racial tensions and upcoming elections have also underscored how challenging these times truly are.
And yet, we are called by the Lord Jesus as a people of faith to bring His light to these challenging times, a light that is not overcome by the sinfulness and frailty of our human nature. Ours is a faith that leads us to rise above the current challenges, not by sidestepping or ignoring them, but by relying on the grace that God has given us to meet them head on. It is the only way that we can bring hope to resolving the many problems we face today.
Let us work with each other, enlightened by the Gospel, to bring Christ’s healing presence to our families, communities and our part of the world here in Missouri. At the end of the Installation Mass on Aug. 25, the choir raised their voices in singing: “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat! Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ commands!” May we live believing these words and bringing about His Kingdom here on earth — the greatest adventure life can offer!