Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Joy and sadness - part 1

   As I was leaving the Public Reception Monday evening following the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Edward Malesic, I spoke to a woman seated on a bench just outside of the Center where the reception was being held.  She looked a little tired and a little sad.  When I mentioned what a glorious day that it had been, she agreed but added how sad she was ... then telling me that she was from the Harrisburg Diocese.  Our gain is their loss.  I heard this repeatedly at the Evening Prayer and reception on Sunday evening and at the Ordination on Monday.  People from Holy Infant parish where the bishop has served for eleven years and those who know him from his days in the Harrisburg Diocese, shared their reluctance to "let him go".  I made it a point to thank them "for preparing him well" for his new role as our bishop, and to assure them that we are deeply grateful.

     A tremendous amount of hard work went into making these last few days memorable in the life of this local church.  The Diocese of Greensburg has been in existence since 1951, and this is only the fifth time that we have welcomed a new shepherd.  It is understandable then that our excitement and celebrations be expressive of our gratitude for the past, our joy in the moment, and our hope for the future.  I, for one, am deeply grateful to so many who served the task of making these transitional days a wonderful experience of Church at its finest.  And personally, I am humbled by the care shown to those of us who have some difficulty in getting around (I've been using a walker of late), and we were treated, as always, with wonderful care.

     The festivities began on Sunday evening with Evening Prayer and a public reception at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensburg.  Retiring Bishop Lawrence Brandt was celebrant and Bishop-elect Malesic preached, before making his Profession of Faith and taking his Oath of Fidelity before a packed house.  Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg and Archabbot Douglas Nowicki of Saint Vincent were also present for prayer and fellowship.

     Bishop Malesic has an easy style and a great sense of humor, and his homily brought attentive listening as well as frequent laughter.  He spoke of how nervous he was after receiving the call from Archbishop Carlo Vigano regarding the Holy Father's choice of him as Bishop of Greensburg.  "Could I really do this?" he asked himself.  "Could I be a good bishop?"  He spoke of the confident reassurance that the many prayers and thoughts offered to him brought into his life, and his experience of the power of prayer that was so tangable.  He spoke clearly of our need to place our trust in Jesus.  He reminded us that Jesus wants our faith "stretched and strengthened", because faith leads to salvation.  When we can say "Jesus, I trust in you" we find the heart of our faith.  He said that the goal of faith is the salvation of souls, and that this is essential "stuff". [When I met with him at the reception I mentioned that I can't remember hearing an episcopal sermon referring to faith and salvation as "stuff" - how refreshing and down to earth.] 

When asked about his "vision" for the diocese, he message is right on point:  that the Lord invites us to "deepen our faith and share it ... live out our lives as faithful witnesses."  He asked for patience and forgiveness, understanding and prayer.  God will provide what we need despite ourselves.

     An excellent public reception was held in the parish hall, where the bishop greeted all present, including toward the end of the evening, yours truly.  He never showed a bit of tiredness or stress.  As I heard from many sources ... "We have a winner".

photos taken by Elisa Esasky of the Diocesan Communications Office
More on the Ordination in the next post.

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