Q: What role, as a bishop, do you play in Catholic education?
A: Thank you for this question for as a successor of the first Apostles, I do not just govern (administrate), sanctify (offer blessing), I also have the responsibility to teach or share our faith with our fellow brothers and sisters. This entails a number of approaches, one of which is obvious to defend the Deposit of Faith. What does that mean? Think about it: When you have money in the bank you are keeping it safe, so that it does not disappear or diminish. Of course, the investment of which I speak of our faith has eternal consequences and is much greater than any material goods we have here on earth.
Another practice is that I share our faith with others through both my words and my actions. You see, in the Creed that we profess every Sunday, and for many of us each day, these are not just words that a bunch of people in our Church came up with over 15 centuries ago. No, what we proclaim, we are meant to live. In doing so, I as a teacher am sort of a “spiritual enabler,” in that I assist people to further delve into their faith. Our faith is not simply a bunch of do’s and don’ts in a book and a bunch of prayers invented by a number of individuals over time. No, all of this of which I just spoke communicates the very relationship into which our Lord Jesus Christ has invited us. In other words, all of our teaching centers on Jesus Christ.
Finally, and the one that tends to get bishops the most press, is when we have to stand up for the faith in times when it is not culturally or socially popular. That is the time when we have our integrity and courage tested. As a teacher, I constantly encourage us to reach out to the defenseless, such as our to-be-born brothers and sisters as well as those in the final days of their life. Their dignity of life is no less than yours or mine and merits our protection. Also, we reach out to our brothers and sisters who are poor; namely, have lost their jobs or are disenfranchised from or marginalized by our society. These brothers and sisters need our help as most often comes in our own self-sacrifice of time, treasure and talent. As you read in the paper or online, you see that there are other areas where the bishop, as teacher, will “take a hit” by members of our society who do not just disagree with the Church’s position but lower their method to a level of insult and/or vindictiveness. Of course, none of us can take ourselves to that level for it is our Lord Jesus who has reminded us to be patient, as well as courageous, just as the saints before us found themselves in challenging times.
I am honored to be your bishop, and I joyfully embrace the task of teacher. How can one not be delighted to assist the growth of our Church in the faith handed over to us by the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself?