Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
They say that all things are relative. When I was a faculty member at Quigley North Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, I went on a post-Christmas, mini-vacation to West Palm Beach, Florida. The Chicago winter was particularly cold that year, and the end of December brought temperatures in the 15-20 degrees-below-zero range. When I deplaned in Florida, it was 60 degrees, and Floridians were complaining about how cold it was. They were wearing sweaters and jackets. I, however, shed my overcoat and walked around in a short-sleeved shirt. The difference was almost 80 degrees warmer than the Chicago/O’Hare area that I left.
Two inches of snow means almost nothing to a Milwaukeean – it doesn’t even slow the pace of a Midwesterner. But, two inches of snow in Rome paralyzes the city. Taxis can’t function, and trattorias and shops have little idea on how to handle ice.
Rush hours are also relative. In Chicago, the rush hour could double and, in some instances, triple your time. In Milwaukee, it can add a good half-hour to your time. When I was a new Bishop in La Crosse, I was warned that if I travelled during La Crosse rush hour, it could add as much as 10 minutes to the journey. Needless to say, I smiled.
As Bishop of La Crosse, it was a normal occurrence to travel at least two hours to reach a destination, and over three hours when travelling to Wausau. You accepted that reality. I know Bishop William Callahan, my successor, had to adjust his perspective coming from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, where an hour is a burden.
This past Sunday, I began Holy Week by travelling with Fr. James Lobacz to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Ripon, a distance of 91 miles. It was a wonderful Palm Sunday service, complete with procession. The pastor, Fr. Robert Fictum, and his staff were perfect hosts. As is typical, I positioned myself at the back of the church after Mass. Many people came up to me and not only thanked me for presiding at the service, but especially for making the hour-and-a-half journey. I joked that if I were back in La Crosse, this distance would be considered a real luxury.
When I would feel sorry for myself travelling the distances in La Crosse, I would remind myself of my friend, Bishop David Ricken (current Bishop of Green Bay), who was then the Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming. His diocese was the entire state of Wyoming – over 97,000 square miles. When he travelled to cover his diocese, he left for days.
Distances are relative. The one distance that we will be travelling this Holy Week is the Via Dolorosa. It is only 2,000 feet – a little over two football fields. Yet, this distance established a pathway to eternal happiness.
As your archbishop, I invite you to travel with our Lord during the Holy Week services. This relatively short journey is one that goes the distance from earth to heaven. He carries our cross and reminds us that, as He loves us, we must also LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the March 27, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.