Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at the ordination and installation of Bishop William Wack as the new shepherd of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Aug. 22, 2017.
My dear people,
As Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Miami, Divine Providence brings me back once again to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee to ordain a new bishop for the care of this local Church, a Church that is fully alive. When Pope Francis appointed Father William Wack as your new bishop, the promise God made through the prophet Jeremiah is once again fulfilled: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart. (Jeremiah 3: 15) Like the Good Shepherd himself, Bishop Wack will strive to lay down his life for you, the sheep of his new flock. And, in the days, months and years ahead, you will come to know him and he will come to know you. In the words of Father Thomas O’Hara, superior of the Holy Cross Fathers, from whose numbers Father Wack was called to the episcopacy, William Wack is “strong enough to lead and humble enough to listen.”
Today, eight days after the Assumption of the Blessed Mother body and soul into Heaven, we celebrate the feast of the Queenship of Mary. Thus, this is a most fitting day for a graduate of Notre-Dame, Mary’s school, to begin his episcopal ministry here in Florida’s Panhandle. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, accompany you in this new and demanding service for the Church. And do remember, it is about service; for the title of Bishop is one of service, not of honor. May Mary’s intercession win for you the gifts of faithfulness and perseverance so that you bring to fulfillment the work the Lord has begun in you today. Work for the good of the flock entrusted to you, preach in season and out of season, instruct, pray for, reprove when necessary but with patience and sound teaching. As today’s feast suggests, if we give ourselves as Mary did without reserve, the rest will be given in abundance.
May the Spirit of the Lord which the entire Church invokes upon you, and which is transmitted by the imposition of hands by the consecrating bishops, fill you with his gifts and by the power of faith make rich in love your ministry as the Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
“Duc in altum” (Luke 5: 4) Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Jesus said this to Peter and his companions when he called them to become “fishers of men..” Now, as a successor to the Apostles, the Lord is also saying to you “Duc in altum.” Your life has changed in ways that you are yet to fully appreciate. You are called to undertake tasks that concern both the local and the universal Church; you are called to let down the Gospel net into the stormy seas of our time in order to obtain people’s adherence to Christ; to lift them, so to speak, from the brackish waters of death and from the darkness that the life of Heaven does not penetrate. You must bring them to life on earth, in communion with Jesus Christ.
In your ministry as bishop, you are called to be a father and a brother to all God places in your care, especially your co-workers, the priests and deacons; but also be especially attentive to the poor and the weak, the immigrant and stranger the victims of today’s disposable culture and the globalization of indifference.
They say that it is “lonely at the top” people in leadership often are the target of hostility and unrealistic judgments and the life of a bishop in spite of busy schedules and activities can sometimes seem lonely. Yet, we are never alone. Our friendship with the Lord nurtured in prayer must always sustain us and strengthen us as does the prayer of our faithful and our priests. And, from today on, the priests together with the faithful of this diocese will pray at every Mass, “for Francis, our Pope, and William, our bishop.”
We, bishops, know ourselves to be “unworthy servants.” I am sure that you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and perhaps you still ask yourself: How did I ever become a bishop? No worry. Trust in God and trust in Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Anyway, in a couple of years, you’ll be looking at the rest of us and probably ask: How did they ever become bishops? For God does not necessarily call the wisest, or the strongest or the most qualified. He often chooses those held to be weak in the eyes of this world so as to astound the strong. But he demands a wholehearted and not merely a half-hearted response. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” These words are not unfamiliar to a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
Christ in taking up his cross transformed the outward violence of the act of crucifixion into an act of freely giving his life for others. May it be your highest aspiration to be consumed not to burn yourself out but to burn yourself up to sacrifice yourself for the Lord and for the good of every brother and sister entrusted to your pastoral care.