Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
There are certain events, celebrations or occasions in our lives when the good feelings and rightness of actions are intermingled with the powerful interactions of those involved. This presents a situation which is so tangible that one uses the expression, “I wish I could bottle this.” The expression emphasizes that, at some time in the future when things are not so great, we could use a shot of this emotional vitamin to aid us in our sense of dismay.
On Saturday, August 3, close to 100 seminarians from the state of Wisconsin joined with priests and the seven active bishops – Bishops James Powers (Superior), David Ricken (Green Bay), Donald Hying (Madison), William Callahan (La Crosse), Jeff Haines, James Schuerman and myself (Milwaukee) – in a day of prayer, discussion and camaraderie. Hosted by Bishop William Callahan and the Diocese of La Crosse, there was an abundance of hospitality, goodwill, faith — and hope.
As an archbishop looking at these men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, I couldn’t help but swell with pride, hearing their aspirations and stories. It was obvious that the hardworking vocation directors harvested the best from among Catholic young men to consider the priesthood. I wish that I could have taken these men, their stories and hopes, and shared them with all of the faithful Catholics throughout Wisconsin. A vocation-friendly environment has been created in our state.
Father John Burns, who has recently returned from Rome after completing his doctorate, has been tasked with the promotion of religious life among young women. Many of us know the impact that religious women have had in our personal lives through their sacrifice and commitment to Christ and the Church. It’s exciting to envision the impact the committed young men and women will have on our archdiocese and other dioceses. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and it is all in the name of Christ.
In the last two days, we experienced the senseless mass killings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. I use the word “senseless,” because there is no sense to these crimes. These actions will be analyzed, politicized, psychologized and scrutinized. And, although God was invoked in expressions after the fact (i.e. ‘Our prayers to God go out to the victims and their families’ or ‘We send God’s blessings to those lost or injured’), at the same time, there has been a consistent effort to marginalize God in the public forum – erase His name from any societal marker, don’t publicly pray, or limit expressions of God to Saturdays or Sundays to the four walls of a church, synagogue or mosque in prayer. As a society, if God is not seen as the Being who holds us ultimately responsible, then irresponsible and senseless actions will increase because there is no one who will hold us accountable. Without God, we are doomed. With God, we have hope.
Now, I would like to use that bottle that I filled at the beginning of this LOA with the hope of those who are discerning service to Christ and His Church, and offer a long drink to members of our society. These young men who I met on Saturday may not fully appreciate what their vocational discernment means to the larger picture of faith, but they are answering the call to help our people in understanding that God is real, that He is here for us, and that He offers us a world beyond the senseless. It begins by understanding that God loves us, and desires that we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the August 6, 2019 "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.