On June 30, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson turns 75. Earlier this month, he marked 10 years as shepherd of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The Code of Canon Law requires most bishops to submit their retirement at the age of 75; the pope is not required, however, to follow a set timeline in accepting them. Archbishop Carlson will submit his letter, but he’ll continue to lead the archdiocese, just as he’s done for a decade until the pope decides it’s the right time to appoint a new archbishop.
We thank Archbishop Carlson for all he’s done so far and look forward to his continuing efforts. He has demonstrated a passion for education, vocations, youth ministry and priestly formation that has contributed to the vitality of the archdiocese. In St. Louis, he’s written pastoral letters on evangelization, spiritual formation, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and living the joy of the Gospel.
In St. Louis, Archbishop Carlson has ordained 50 men to the diocesan priesthood and 80 to the permanent diaconate. We’ve had more than 50,400 baptisms, 10,200 adults received into the Church, 56,700 First communicants, 58,300 confirmations and 17,200 marriages. More than 82,000 children have graduated from Catholic elementary schools, high schools and elementary Parish School of Religion programs.
Good things are happening in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In 2011, Archbishop Carlson unveiled a framework plan for Catholic education called “Alive in Christ!” The Archdiocese of St. Louis is the 40th largest diocese in the United States, yet it ranks seventh in the nation for the number of students enrolled in Catholic schools. The archbishop also established the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri, which in 2015 launched its Beyond Sunday campaign which aids students from low- and middle-income families and benefits programs at Catholic schools here.
A refurbished Kenrick-Glennon Seminary is anticipating an enrollment of 140 men next year. He’s also fought for right-to-life efforts, establishing the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund which helps expectant parents and women who have given birth under challenging circumstances. Racism and immigration are other topics he’s stressed, asking priests to preach on the topics and citing the dignity of people who come to the United States seeking a better life.
His columns in the St. Louis Review and Catholic St. Louis remain popular destinations for readers as Archbishop Carlson focuses on his teaching role. It’s one we continue to appreciate and urge others to follow regularly.
Regardless of when the pope accepts Archbishop Carlson’s retirement, we give thanks to our shepherd, who has served us well for 10 years. We also wish him a Happy Birthday.