“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you . . plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

Change, even when it is a good change, can be unnerving.  This week, I am tempted to feel adrift among all of the changes I am experiencing in life.  In these times, it is important to be reminded to cling to our Rock — Jesus.  The Lord has placed in my mind the old Quaker hymn:  “No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that refuge clinging; Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth; How can I keep from singing?”  This week has been a time to cling to that refuge and find the peace that the world cannot give!

As I said, though, some changes are good.  And our biggest news of the week is indeed good!  We received with great joy on Tuesday the news that Pope Francis has chosen a new bishop for our Diocese!  We are so excited to welcome Bishop-elect Peter Muhich to Western South Dakota.  That pesky little thing we call Coronovirus prevented him from coming here to make his press statement in person, but if you missed the Zoom call, you can view it on the Diocesan website. 

I am sure you are as excited as I am to have the opportunity to meet our new Bishop and learn something about him.  A grace of the current pandemic gives us the opportunity to hear our Bishop-elect Peter preach.  You can view this past Sunday’s Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth and hear his homily here.  I enjoyed taking a bit of time to “meet” him in this small way.  In this homily, he speaks of how the Church works through tensions and divisions, how universal they are in the human experience and how the Holy Spirit can take our challenges and bring about great good. 

Bishop-elect Peter shared in the press conference that he has taken as his episcopal motto:  “I have given you an example” from John’s Gospel (John 13:15).  He shared that he wants to tie this to the line he had chosen at his ordination for his holy card: “As I have done, so you must do” also from this same chapter of the Gospel of John.  In his mind, these capture for him his desire to always follow the example of Jesus and to lead as a servant leader.  He shared the hope that we would gently, but firmly remind him of this commitment.  Both his homily and these thoughts from his press conference lead me to believe that he will be a man well suited to lead us well in the times we are living in!  

I am also encouraged by these things others have said about him:

“I know him to be a very good person, an exemplary priest, and a fine friend. He has many gifts that will help him as a bishop. He is kind and considerate, with a keen mind, leadership qualities, and a strong, steady faith. Above all, he has shown himself to be a caring pastor who leads by example, concerned for his people and the mission of the Church” -Father James B. Bissonette

And from another employee of the Diocese of Duluth:  “A very balanced man who listens and with small town roots.   Very organized and has done some great things here.  He is smart, hardworking . . and does the hard work behind the scenes to get a job accomplished.”

We have so much to be grateful for.  Please continue to pray for our new Bishop daily.  He gives up much to come to us — closeness to his elderly parents and other family members, and the familiarity of home and ministry.  God bless him for his faith and courage and willingness to lay down his life for God’s people.  When Bishop Gruss left he prayed that we would gain a Bishop worthy of our love.  I pray that we are people worthy of the gift being given to us in Bishop-elect Peter.  

Our new Bishop will come to work in a new Chancery building when he is able to join us!  Another good, but challenging change.  Moving is exciting, but not always fun!  Chancery employees continue to work primarily from home but we are going in on a rotating basis to unpack.  The construction crews continue to put the finishing touches on the remodeled building as well.  The entire staff is deeply grateful to all those who contributed financially to make this new space available to us and we are excited for the opportunity to welcome you to our new offices.  Even though we cannot do that in person right now, Fr. Mike wanted you to be able to see it.  So, this week, he recorded a video tour of the new offices.  I encourage you to take this virtual tour!

Lastly, this week brings about a more difficult change.  Maru Oszwaldowska, who has served the past couple of years as the Administrative Assistant for the Offices of Vocations and Stewardship, said goodbye to all of us.  Maru and her family will be moving to New York state the end of June.  She will be deeply missed by both Fr. Mark and I and, indeed, by the entire Chancery staff.  Maru gifted us with many things in her time here.  She was a very hard worker, very conscientious and shared her many skills and talents generously.  But most of all, she is a woman of deep faith.  She spreads the Joy of the Gospel wherever she goes and she has taught me a tremendous amount about how to live as a Dedicated Disciple.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers as they navigate an across the country move in a time of pandemic.  

Let’s keep reminding each other, as Fr. John does each day in his daily podcast:  “Be not afraid, God is with us.  And we were born for this!”  And this beautiful and poignant piece of advice from Bishop-elect Peter:  “Tucked into God’s will is the safest place to be.”  (from his RPR interview on 5/14/20) 

 

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