Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Saying goodbye is never easy. When the goodbye means a change – like a friend traveling to another state – we realize that the common encounters and the routine of life will change, but the good news is that person will always be a friend. Time and history together has assured that. Still, it will be different. The same is true for a child getting married. They will leave the family home and establish a new one. In a similar manner, it is true also for a death – when one loses the presence of a friend or loved one.
There is a type of selfishness in our lives, such as always wanting to possess a person, or never wanting to upset our own comfort zone. But life is in constant flux. God is referred to as the One who is changing but never changing. It is imperative that we see the sign of God’s presence in the ebb and flow of life and celebrate the mystery.
What we want to possess is the good we’ve experienced. In the funeral liturgy, at the commendation, the priest states: “We give thanks for the blessings which you bestowed upon the person in this life: they are signs to us of your goodness and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.”
I mention this because today our auxiliary bishop, priest and friend, Don Hying has been installed as the fourth bishop of Gary, Ind. I realize that the Diocese of Gary is not a foreign country (although for some in Wisconsin it may seem like one). When Bishop Don returns to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, it will be as the bishop of 185,000 Catholics who claim him as their Shepherd. I think I speak for all when I say that we will miss his spiritual and pastoral presence, but we must remember that it was Christ who called Bishop Hying to surrender his life for the sake of the Gospel. It is that same Christ who calls us into a relationship with him; it is that same Christ who now calls Bishop Hying to serve in another diocese. We can’t be angry at Christ, because without Christ we would never have experienced the “good” of the relationship.
So let us celebrate the “good” in the relationship that we have been so fortunate to have had with Bishop Hying and realize that his friendship and good works are held by God. We experienced a glimpse of the transcendent in the “good” and we long for it always and forever, but it will never be fully realized until we are in God’s presence, as St. Augustine said so well: “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
We bid goodbye to our bishop, priest and friend, knowing that he will carry with him the “good” experienced in our archdiocese and share it generously with the people of the Diocese of Gary, pledging always to carry out Jesus’ command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the January 6, 2015 "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.