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
Bishop Michael Warfel, Diocese of Great Falls-Billings
the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 19, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
The heart of a pastor! It is a phrase I once heard at the installation of a bishop. During remarks toward the end of the Mass, the newly ordained and installed bishop informed the members of his new diocese that he had the heart of a pastor and that a pastor is what they would be getting. Of course, what followed was rousing applause! It would be my best guess that what most people desire in their bishop is a man who indeed has the heart of a pastor.
There certainly are other important elements to episcopal ministry not usually associated with pastoral ministry, such as sound administration. As needed as good administration is, people want a bishop who will rightly shepherd them and lead them to Christ more than anything else. Bishop Cupich, who becomes Bishop of Spokane, is a man with such a heart. He has demonstrated this over 35 years as a priest, 12 of these years as diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. While his installation on Sept. 3 is a great loss for the Diocese of Rapid City, it is a great gain for the Diocese of Spokane.
Over the 12 years I have known Bishop Cupich, he has impressed me as a people person. I do not mean a “people pleaser,” but a bishop who deeply cares for the well-being of those entrusted to his care. He has demonstrated a willingness to preach the fullness of the Gospel. To borrow from an adage, he may strive to comfort those who are troubled but is likewise not hesitant to trouble those who may be a bit too comfortable for their own spiritual well-being.
Bishop Cupich obviously follows in the footsteps of another bishop who has the heart of a pastor, Bishop William Skylstad. Over his 20 years as the Shepherd of the Diocese of Spokane, he has touched many lives and led many to Christ. He has been an effective leader whose efforts have produced much fruit. The Diocese of Spokane is a much better diocese for having had him as their Shepherd.
The Church ultimately has a very basic purpose and mission: the salvation of souls. A bishop must keep this vision in mind as he goes about fulfilling his episcopal responsibilities. Though there will be a change in leadership and soon a new Bishop of Spokane, the pastoral care of the members of the Diocese certainly will continue. A bishop who has the heart of a pastor will never stop caring for the flock entrusted to his care. And the new bishop of Spokane has the heart of a pastor.