If you are a worshipper who has attended Mass in a Catholic Church throughout Northeastern Wisconsin throughout these past few months, perhaps you will notice an omission in our Eucharistic Prayer. In fact, here at Old Saint Joe's, our college freshmen have wondered why the Norbertine presiders shift from, "Benedict our Pope" to "Gary our Abbot," without naming the current bishop. No, we are not radicals trying to bypass our position within the diocese; rather, the Diocesan See is currently vacant! The omission in the Eucharistic Prayer is by design -- we are to feel the absence of a shepherd as we await the naming of a new bishop of Green Bay since Bishop David Zubik assumed the chair in his native land, Pittsburgh!
But do we feel the absence? Certainly, we feel the void left by Bishop Zubik who certainly made his way about the diocese -- tackling so many issues, present in so many apostolates throughout the diocese. Nevertheless, with the exception of our freshmen at Saint Norbert College -- many of whom are not aware of our local church history, we know that this diocese continues to be served quite abundantly by Bishop Emeritus Robert Banks and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau, [H]O.Praem. These two men continue to serve the diocese in any number of provocatively pastoral ways.
What will our future hold? Who's to know? Archbishop Timothy Dolan, our Apostolic Administrator of the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese, has stated publicly that he thinks the See will be filled by Easter. Will that appointment include someone we know or will it be a stranger? Only time will tell. But until that day arrives -- usually an early Tuesday morning -- we will be an Advent people -- we will be a vigilant people waiting in hope for a shepherd who will tend the souls of so many good people in our land. But until that announcement comes, we can be assured that two good men will continue to minister to a diocese filled with any other number of good men and women who will do their best to make the presence of Christ come alive in our midst. Together, as shepherds and as sheep, may we be 'one in mind and heart on our way home to God' knowing and celebrating that even in the midst of a vacant chair: "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care!"
Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.
PS: While I am a GREAT fan of Archbishop Dolan, I am sometimes concerned that he just might be invading my turf.......................:
....As Apostolic Administrator, I'm pretty sure he has the authority to do so! <-- "There's a new sheriff in town!"