Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Presbyterate gathers to honor Bishop Skylstad, brother priest
the Inland Register
(From the July 1, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
With a matching smile on his face, Bishop Skylstad stands alongside a formal photo of himself, which the priests of the diocese had created for him on the occasion of his retirement as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Spokane. The portrait will be displayed in the Catholic Pastoral Center alongside those of his predecessors. Dorian Studio, Spokane, donated the piece. (IR photo courtesy of Father Steve Dublinski)
Promising to be sensitive to his desire to “keep it simple and low-keyed,” the priests of the diocese gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes June 22 to honor Bishop Skylstad, their Chief Shepherd for the last 19 years, and to celebrate his golden anniversary of priestly ordination.
The same event celebrated the silver anniversary of priestly ordination of Father Steve Dublinski, the bishop’s Vicar General and rector of the Cathedral Parish. The priests also honored Msgr. John Steiner, who recently retired from priestly ministry and has set aside his responsibilities as co-Vicar General.
Following a formal recitation of Evening Prayer in the Cathedral sanctuary and dinner together, the priests showered the Bishop and their brother priests with accolades and personal testimonies. Bishop Skylstad, understandably, was the primary focus of attention.
“You have deeply impressed us with your deep spirituality, patient endurance and simple, unassuming life-style,” said Msgr. Robert Pearson, Vicar for Priests, in his address to the bishop. “Your years among us as bishop have molded and shaped us in ways we perhaps have yet to measure. These have been difficult and challenging times for our diocese, without a doubt, but you have faced them with charity and faith.”
“You have taught to ‘always take the high road,’” said Father Dublinski in his comments to the bishop. “I deeply appreciate your personal support, your practical wisdom, and deep love for the people of this diocese.”
Among other characteristics, Msgr. Steiner was praised for his love for the Church, his sharp intellect, his firm guidance on diocesan affairs, his vast range of talent (especially liturgical celebration), and his ability to always “speak the truth” as he saw it.
Father Dublinski received high marks for his love of philosophy as a young seminarian, his calm endurance under (bankruptcy) fire, his pastoral leadership, and his unassuming commitment to serve the needs of the diocese.
The priests of the diocese brought gifts for their bishop, presented on their behalf by Father Michael Savelesky, chairman of the bishop’s Presbyteral Council. One gift was a large photo of Bishop Skylstad which matches the photo-set of former ordinaries which are on display in the formal meeting room of the Catholic Pastoral Center. Another was a collection taken up among the priests to cover expenses for a cruise by the Bishop to Norway to touch base with his father’s family roots.
A letter which accompanied the gifts spoke the mind of the priests: “What immense joy there must be in your heart, Bishop, as you pause to ponder where your personal journey of faith has taken you these past 50 years! We join the chorus of the many voices in our diocesan family which rejoice in the way God has engaged you for the benefit and welfare of his flock.
“Thank you, deeply and sincerely, for your solid and consistent witness to faith and service all these years of your priestly ministry – to us here in the Diocese of Spokane, as well as to the Church in the United States and, indeed, the Church Universal. Very few individuals have had the opportunities and experiences in priestly ministry that you have enjoyed. Equally few have embraced them so humbly and courageously.”
Quite appropriately, Bishop Skylstad had the last word of the evening.
With obvious sentiment and heart-felt gratitude, he thanked the priests for their personal support, their focus on the needs of the faithful, and their faithful proclamation of the Gospel, despite forces that work to the contrary.
“I truly admire the way you have ‘hung in there’ in some pretty difficult and challenging times,” Bishop Skylstad told the priests. “Your witness has spoken volumes to a Catholic community whose faith truly amazes me.
“The presbyterate of this diocese is unusually gifted and talented,” he said. “I have been blessed personally in so many ways by each and every one of you priests. You have been of immeasurable help and support to me.
“But ministry is not about me or us,” said the bishop. “It is about Christ and his Church. A new shepherd will soon come our way. I must step aside – and I have made this very clear to my successor – and I will prayerfully support him as the new shepherd of the Diocese of Spokane.
“As usual, so much of the future is unknown. My personal life will continue to unfold. I do look forward to relating to all you priests – yes, as bishop-emeritus, but more importantly, as a brother priest.”