As I am a few weeks into my service to you as the 12th Bishop of Alexandria, I want all to know that I will hope to offer you some thoughts and reflections each month in a column seen in our diocesan paper, The Church Today.
I’ve chosen a favorite passage from the Gospel of John as the title of my column: I am the Vine, you are the branches (John 15.5). This phrase used by the Lord Jesus describes perfectly who we are:
We…the people of God…the Church of Christ the Lord…we are connected to Him…He, the living Vine of Life, the gift of the Father…and we, brought into His life through the gift of faith and the doorway of Baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit….we are living branches….His body.
Let us remember this connectedness…to one another and to the Lord, the Vine of Life and through Him, to the Vine grower, God the Father. As we remain connected to Him, the Lord promises much fruitfulness. And now, to this month’s reflection.
In September of 2016, when I drove to Alexandria for the first time to prepare for the announcement of my appointment as Coadjutor Bishop, I met with Bishop Herzog at his residence.
During our evening meal and conversation we talked about many things. He mentioned that as the Bishop’s residence had been fitted for his health needs (wheel-chair ramps and the like), he hoped to remain at the residence if I agreed. I agreed immediately, and taking his advice to heart, I contacted Fr. Jim Ferguson at our Cathedral, to ask about taking up residence at the Cathedral rectory.
Fr. Ferguson and the Cathedral staff went out of their way to make the planning of my move to Alexandria stress-free . A suite of three rooms was prepared for me, and in October, I moved in as a resident at the Cathedral. My belongings (mostly books) followed shortly thereafter, and I began to be at home at the rectory.
As most of you may remember, Bishop Herzog moved from the Bishop’s Residence to Regency House, needing more medical attention in his ongoing physical rehabilitation. He is our Bishop Emeritus and enjoys visiting with our clergy and our people. I hope that many of you will take time to visit with him at Regency House.
Many asked me…are you going move into the Bishop’s Residence? I’ve made the decision to remain at our Cathedral, as a resident in the rectory.
But what of the official Bishop’s Residence?
Hoping to offer our seminarians a sense of our love for them (mine and yours) and my commitment to their ongoing discernment, I have asked our Director of Vocations, Fr. Louis Sklar, to take up residence at the Bishop’s home and to make that home a place for “touching base” as our seminarians visit us during the school year and stay with us during the summer. Fr. Louis will make the Bishop’s residence a place for the seminarians to gather together, supporting one another during their years of formation.
This is where things are today. I might choose to change this decision down the road, but for the present….I am happy to live at the Cathedral and Fr. Louis is happy to live at the Bishop’s home…and to build a place of welcome and connectedness for our seminarians.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(For The Greater Glory of God)