The summer is a really wonderful time of year when many people can be out and about, enjoying God’s good earth and one another. The beauty of trees and gardens, backyards and parks for sports and fun. I pray that you and your families are able to enjoy the beauty of our State of West Virginia this summer.
Unlike my previous summers as Bishop, I have been able to enjoy the beauty of this first part of summer at my home. Following surgery on my foot at the beginning of June, I have to be off my feet for several weeks and am recuperating at home. I am grateful for the time to relax and reflect, while still being able to work with my Diocesan staff each day. It is a first to stay at home without traveling to our parishes throughout the State, finding time to reflect on our wonderful Diocese, its priests and people, while doing my daily physical therapy and staying busy with work brought home to me from the office. I thank so many who have sent their messages of concern and their promises of prayers and Masses. I am remembering each of you in my daily Masses.
This is a time for me to be extremely grateful to my staff here in Wheeling who work so hard to manage such a great geographic territory with all its challenges and demands. When tough decisions are made, it is often our Chancery staff who must carry out these decisions. I know this has been a challenging year for many of them as they appear on the front lines, answering questions and responding to many demands. I know that they are not always treated as bearers of good news, especially when they bring the results of difficult decisions; I want the people of our Diocese to know how grateful I am for my staff who are always at work among our parishes, schools, and charitable institutions and who are striving to accomplish the work of the Gospel in the best manner possible.
Our lives are always changing and so is our Diocese. As you will read in this issue of The Catholic Spirit, two of my diocesan staff will be leaving us this summer. Our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Vincent de Paul Schmidt, is moving on to the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. He is returning to the Midwest from which he came to us a number of years ago. I am grateful to him and his family for their time and his work for our 25 schools throughout the State. Our Director of Catholic Charities, Mark Sliter, will be returning to his home in the State of Texas for family reasons. I am grateful to him as well for his hard work and especially for his leadership in responding to the challenges of last summer’s floods which affected the lives of so many throughout our State. The response from our people to the flooding was a real indication of their generosity and our Catholic Charities staff continue to do so much with that generosity, helping families and communities in long-term recovery and in coping with suffering from this terrible ordeal.
During these summer months, our seminarians are working in several of our parishes, learning about priestly life and ministry watching our pastors at work. This is an important part of their formation, since parish ministry is where they will spend their priesthood and the affirmation that our people offer them can be a real encouragement to their continued preparation for priesthood. I ask you to make our seminarians feel welcome and to encourage them in their ministry and learning. I look forward to gathering with them at the end of this summer to hear about all that they have learned.
I ask for your prayers for all of us who work with and for the Catholic Church in West Virginia that God will provide us with dedicated and hardworking people who truly serve the People of God. They are very precious.