Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

The Bishop Writes

"Ending and a new beginning"

by Bishop William S. Skylstad

(From the Aug. 19, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

After 33 years of writing a regular column in two diocesan newspapers, the time has come for the last one. When I began to write these as a way to keep in touch with the people here in the Spokane Diocese, and when I was Bishop of Yakima, with the faithful there, I never thought much about writing the last one. But this is it.

I have so much for which to be grateful.

Of course, I offer gratitude to God first and foremost, for the spiritual journey on which I have been and will continue as bishop emeritus.

I am grateful to the Holy Fathers I have met over the decades (there are three) and for their calling me to this ministry as bishop. It’s a humbling role, but also a very important one. Every bishop ordained for this particular role in the Church comes to the mission with strengths and weaknesses. The bishop, too, celebrates the sacrament of reconciliation as a recipient of forgiveness and compassion along with all the other faithful. As St. Augustine once said, “For you, I am a bishop; with you, I am a Christian.” In the later years of my life I hope to be more of the latter: “With you…”

The inspiration of people and the diverse community of faith have been a great blessing. That blessing has been brought about by priests, deacons and their wives, Sisters and Brothers of Religious communities, laity, and ecumenical and interreligious partners. Over these decades, all have provided me such a treasure that leaves me feeling profoundly grateful and humbled. My friends who are brother bishops have been a great support and grace.

The Catholic Church herself is a remarkable institution, though not without her imperfections and continued need for redemption. Yet the Lord has promised to be with us, so much in evidence over these 2,000 years. As we look to our Church, it is so easy to be fixated by her failings and by cynicism. Yet neither of those two are qualities of the Gospel. On the other hand, so many see our community as a great blessing, even though always in need of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. They trust in the saving power of our God. They are resilient and full of hope. Those are qualities of the Gospel.

We all look forward to the installation of Bishop Blase Cupich on Friday morning, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m. at McCarthey Center on the campus of Gonzaga University. We welcome Bishop Cupich with great joy.

As I write these words, Bishop Cupich (pronounced SOO-pitch) is returning to Rapid City, the diocese where he has been bishop for the past 12 years. He arrived in Spokane last Wednesday afternoon, on the Feast of St. John Vianney. Father Connall and Bishop White seminary hosted Evening Prayer and a dinner for priests in the diocese.

The next day, Bishop Cupich met with staff of various departments at our Catholic Pastoral Center and, early on Friday morning, with our diocesan attorneys. For the rest of Friday and on into Saturday we traveled about the diocese visiting as many parishes as we could, from Spokane to Pasco and Walla Walla, Waitsburg, Dayton, Pomeroy, Clarkston, Union-town, Colton, Pullman, Colfax, and Rosalia, and then back to Spokane. On Saturday we took the northern and western routes: from Spokane to Deer Park, Chewelah, Colville, Kettle Falls, Republic, Tonasket, Okanogan, Omak, Twisp, Brew-ster, and then back home. Each day we covered exactly 400 miles.

Bishop Cupich will return to Eastern Washington shortly before the installation. He will live at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. On Thursday evening on Sep. 2, an Evening Prayer and welcome is scheduled for the new bishop. Since the Cathedral has limited capacity, this evening celebration will be by special invitation.

On the next day, the celebration of installation will be held at 11 a.m. at McCarthey Center. Bishop Cupich wished that as many people as possible could attend this event. Although our Cathedral has more symbolism, McCarthey will hold more people. This is the first time in 32 years that we have had such a celebration on a diocesan scale. This is a day when our Catholic School children can come. The installation will truly be an historic event for us. We anticipate the presence of over 30 bishops, and we hope a great crowd will be present to welcome our new bishop. I strongly encourage you to come.

The installation at the beginning of the Mass is relatively simple. The Holy Father’s Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, will read the papal bull announcing that the Holy Father has appointed Bishop Cupich as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Spokane. Then Archbishop Alex Brunett, the metropolitan archbishop of our province, will lead Bishop Cupich to the cathedra (bishop’s chair) and the new bishop is handed the crosier (bishop’s staff). Everyone applauds. Mass will continue as usual, with Bishop Cupich as the main celebrant.

And so he begins his ministry here.

Along with me I hope you will constantly remember him and his ministry in your prayers. You will need to love him as he loves you. We are most grateful for his “yes” to be the Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane.

Those who speak Spanish have a couple of nice phrases: Hasta la Vista and adios. The first means “until we meet again” and the second, literally, “To God.”

And so to all: “Hasta la Vista” and “Adios.”

May God bless you always.

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