Catholic Herald readers were invited to share their experiences and memories of Bishop Donald J. Hying. Following is a sampling of the many responses we received.
Privileged to have gone to jail with the bishop
I went to jail with Bishop Hying!
After we were admitted to the county jail, we were screened and assigned an inmate.
The young man to whom I was assigned asked if I’d like to hear him chant a psalm from his Bible.
What a prayerful experience.
I drove home to the Falls with Bishop Hying – happy to have gone to jail!
School Sister of St. Francis Nivard Hainault
Bishop is literally a lifesaver
Bishop Hying literally saved my life while pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Milwaukee.
I suffered from severe depression and didn’t know where to turn. I sat on the steps of OLGH before entering the church and asking to see a priest. They introduced me to Fr. Don.
I was at a point in my life where I no longer wanted to live. Without even knowing me, Bishop Don found the right words to touch my heart and point me in God’s direction. He stuck with me during this difficult time when others would not.
Ever since, we have called each other friend. He inspires me and keeps me moving forward.
Through good times and difficult ones, Bishop Hying has always been there with kind, caring words. I have been truly blessed to have him in my life.
I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without Bishop Hying’s help.
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Milwaukee
Human touch is evident
One of Bishop Hying’s gifts that I most appreciate is his human touch.
One evening after I had returned to Milwaukee from a marvelous workshop on lay ministry and was eager to share the information with the archdiocese, I hosted an informal dinner at St. Matthias Parish, Milwaukee, and invited the bishops. Bishop Hying came – early – to the rectory, tapped on the kitchen window, and offered to help with dinner preparations.
Since I was about to struggle with uncorking the wine, he took on that job with obvious skill.
I am truly grateful for all of Bishop Hying’s ministerial work in our archdiocese.
St. Robert of Newminster Parish, Shorewood
Bishop’s challenge brings ‘sense of peace’
I am quite sad Bishop Hying is leaving Milwaukee, but thrilled for the people of Gary.
I am a member of the Cathedral parish and am always inspired by the bishops’ homilies.
Last November, Bishop Hying encouraged all of us to remember the sacrament of reconciliation. He gently suggested that if we all made monthly confessions we might find that we are different people after one year.
While I have always treasured the grace of the sacrament, I often missed a month here and there. Well, I took up the challenge and 13 months later, I am not so sure I am a better or different person, but I sure know I have a sense of peace that has changes my prayer life.
Thank you, Bishop Hying, for all you have done for us.
Mary J. Meehan
Alverno College, Milwaukee, president
‘Something very special about him’
We have known Bishop Don for around 20 years or so. We met him at a Bible study he was a part of called, “Faith, Hope & Charity.”
My husband Jim and I knew there was something very special about him and wow, were we right!
Last year I called Bishop Don to see if he could pray for my mom, who was diagnosed with cancer. He said, “What are you doing Friday morning? I can meet you at her house at about 10.”
You see, my mom had not been to church in 14 years and had not gone to confession in 50 years.
When I told my mom a bishop was coming over to see her, she was a little nervous, but when she met him all her fears went away. He heard her confession, and said, “How about we have Mass now”?
So we had Mass at the dining room table and it was beautiful! He also anointed her so she had the trifecta of the Catholic sacraments. He was so sweet and loving to her; she was like the prodigal daughter coming home again.
As I walked him to the door, I was thanking him for doing all this for my mom, he said, “Terri, this is why I became a priest, for moments like this.”
When we were saying our goodbyes he hugged her and said, “I’ll see you next week, Buttercup.”
He kept his promise, but it was at her funeral Mass.
After Bishop Don left, my mom and I were on the front porch swing and she kept saying, “Honey this is the best day of my life,” over and over again. I know he came on his day off to spend time with her and free her from her sin, and give her eternal life!
This is just one reason why we love this very special man. May God continue to bless you, Bishop Don!!
Terri and Jim Maciejewski
St. Mary Visitation Parish, Elm Grove
Bishop is ‘saint of prisoners’
Bishop Hying is a patron saint of prisoners. Several times in the last year he visited the Racine Youthful Offenders Facility to celebrate Mass and confirm inmates. The men love to see him come.
He brings with him the light of Christ for the least of our brothers. The inmates instinctively recognize his concern and humility. He connected with them.
In the first homily I heard him preach at the prison, he looked at the men and said, “You are so much more than this place.”
Bishop Hying, you are so much more than Milwaukee. I wish you the best.
Julie (asked that her name be withheld)
Sacred Heart Parish, Racine
Bishop Don always works it out to be there
I’ve known Fr. Don, dean, rector and bishop, for 15 years of joys and sorrow.
He never says, “No.” Instead, he says, “I’ll work it out to be able to be there for us.”
He blessed us for 50 years of marriage and offered a special blessing in our church for a granddaughter baptized in Mexico.
With comfort and prayers through Bob’s strokes and then his funeral and reception, Fr. Don, now bishop, was there for us graciously.
Gary, Indiana isn’t so far that I can’t visit or attend a Mass at which he presides. He’ll say, “I’ll work it out.”
Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Milwaukee
‘Tag, you’re it!,’ Bishop Hying
Bishop Hying will always hold a special place in my heart. As a young girl at the age of 4, my parents and I joined Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Milwaukee, while he was pastor there.
After the Mass commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Fr. Don started a game of tag in the basement. We ran around chasing each other only for a few moments that day, but, for these past 13 years, the game has continued.
Every time we would meet, he and I would slip in the silent poke on the arm with a whispered, “Tag, you’re it!”
Often, he would tag me at the last moment before he left an event and walk away quickly before I had a chance to tag him back.
It always leaves me smiling and laughing with the man who, amidst his busy life as priest and auxiliary bishop, always has time to remember the little things that are so important.
I am sad to see him go, but I am excited to see what God has in store for him and for the Diocese of Gary.
My prayers go with you, Bishop Hying, for a smooth and easy transition, and for continued peace and prosperity on your journey.
Carissa Herbert, age 17
St. Mary Parish, Menomonee Falls
‘Rock star’ is ‘icon among teens’
Bishop Hying is a respected Catholic icon among teens.
When they hear Bishop Hying is celebrating Mass, speaking or leading a prayer service, they want to be there.
Recently, I approached Bishop Hying to introduce myself.
“Hi, Bishop Hying, I am the new youth minister at St. Mary Visitation Parish. You are confirming our teens on May 8!”
He said, “I want to get to know the teens before they are confirmed.”
“Schedule me for some time with them.”
“What?” I was stunned. ”You would do that?”
He smiled and reassured me that he would.
Bishop Hying is a rock star, a hero and a true disciple of Christ.
He goes above and beyond to make connections with our teens.
God Bless him as God calls him into a new direction.
We will miss him in Wisconsin, but never forget him.
We can always watch him on YouTube!
St. Mary Visitation Parish, Elm Grove, child and youth minister
Displays quiet manner of leadership
I met Bishop Hying when he was named rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary and I began to serve on the seminary board nine years ago.
I will always remember his quiet manner of leadership, his frequent smile, his thoughtful answers, his appreciation of fine art, his generosity of prayer and his love of the church.
St. John the Baptist Parish, Plymouth
Confirmation class offers thanks
Thank you, Bishop Hying, for being down to earth and humble … for caring so deeply … for caring so much that you were always prepared, clear and concise in all that you taught, said and lived.
Thank you for making time for our confirmation youth to lead a teaching liturgy!
Thank you for making the sacrament of confirmation vibrant for all of us!
May God continue to hold you close all of your days!
The 2014 confirmation class
St. James Parish, Mukwonago
Love for priesthood obvious
When now-Bishop Donald Hying was pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, I attended a Sunday evening Mass there because the time was convenient for me with my work schedule.
His preaching was good and it touched my heart. After Mass, as he greeted people outside church, I told him I loved his enthusiastic preaching. His answer was loud and clear: “Oh, I Iove being a priest.”
Since then, I’ve followed him in the news and through his writing and he hasn’t changed from the one time I experienced his witness in person.
I wish him well.
St. Joseph Parish, Wauwatosa
Friendly admonition a lifelong lesson
Not long after his episcopal ordination, Bishop Hying came to Holy Rosary Church in Kenosha to lead us in a Benediction and prayer service in honor of a traveling image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii.
It was a great service, and after he met with our parish youth in the church hall.
As I escorted him to his car, I asked him, “Bishop Hying, do you need anything, is there anything I can get you, do you want a new pair of shoes?” (I probably was thinking, “He could use a better pair of shoes as a bishop.”)
He looked at me directly and said, “I want you to be the best priest you can be.”
This has stuck with me and I am very grateful for his friendly admonition.
Holy Rosary Parish and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception thank God for the work he has done in Bishop Hying’s life.
Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception
Fr. William Hayward
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, Kenosha
Family experiences caring side of ‘awesome priest’
Bishop Hying is a great friend, brother-in-law and an awesome priest.
When he is at home, he always makes the time to either visit his brothers and their wives and families but also calls each of us on our birthdays.
He makes us feel special. When he comes to visit his brother, Richard, in Dousman, he always sits down first thing and gives his nephew Paul a big hug and asks him how he is doing. Paul has cerebral palsy and it means a lot to us that he cares so much and says prayers for him.
He also visits his other brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews whenever he can.
Richard, Janet, Tom, Paul and Jennifer Hying
St. Bruno Parish, Dousman
Extraordinary servant even pours coffee
Shortly after Fr. Don Hying was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish he became a member of Knights of Columbus Council 6646. In recognition of his service as rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Cardinal Albert G. Meyer Council donated $10,000 to the seminary in honor of our Brother Knight, now Bishop Hying.
In gratitude rector Fr. John Hemsing invited a group of Knights and their ladies to join the seminarians for morning prayers and breakfast at which the coffee was poured by an extraordinary servant, Bishop Donald Hying.
Knights of Columbus Council 6646, past Grand Knight
Remembers names of special friends
What I’ve always admired about Bishop Hying is his ability to make each person he speaks to feel like you are his special friend. He does this by remembering your name.
When Fr. Don was pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope, Milwaukee, my husband and I were lucky to be just two of the many parishioners who loved him. Somehow, Fr. Don remembered our names – and all the other active parishioners – and never failed to use them in his encounters with all of us.
John and Michele Schmitz
St. Mary Parish, Port Washington
So holy, yet so humble
While working at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Vocations Office, I would occasionally have the honor of serving Mass for Bishop Hying when he was rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary.
I loved to watch Bishop Don’s face as he held up the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord at Consecration. His eyes were filled with reverence, wonder and awe, as if he were celebrating Mass for the first time and seeing the face of Jesus in the host.
I told him about this one day after Mass and he replied that on the occasion of his Mass of Thanksgiving after his ordination to the priesthood, he had prayed for the blessing to always have a feeling of renewed awe at each Mass he celebrated, just as he felt at that first Mass at which he presided.
I felt profoundly humbled to be standing in the presence of someone who is so holy and yet so humble. I think often of that incredible look on Bishop Don’s face when I am at Mass and pray that I, too, like Bishop Don, may be blessed with a love which is so deep, so simple, and so filled with wonder at the goodness of God!
May God continue to bless Bishop Don as he blesses the people of Gary with his spiritual leadership!
Director of Religious Education
Sacred Heart Catholic Parish, Shawano
Busy man with many friends
In 2011, within weeks of my husband’s death, I was honored as a Vatican II Award recipient. I decided to attend because Ted helped to make my volunteering possible, thereby also honoring him.
Sometime during the course of the evening, then-Fr. Don whispered to me, “I’d like to sit down sometime and have a talk with you.”
I’m still waiting! However, in all fairness, when I shared this with friends, I was told not to hold my breath … that “Fr. Don is a very busy man.”
God bless you, Bishop Don, in your new assignment in Gary.
St. John Vianney Parish, Brookfield
Camera preserves favorite moment
I have many memories of Bishop Don: traveling during a snowstorm to my children’s school, Aquinas Academy, to celebrate Mass; his homily at our chastity event for District 6; helping with so many different events around the diocese, including Nazareth Day, pro-life events and on and on and on.
But my favorite is when he took my 2-week-old son, blessed him and took a picture with him after confirmation for our parish St. Mary of the Hill this May at Holy Hill.
May God bless him, prosper the works of his hands in the new diocese and keep him safe.
St. Mary of the Hill Parish, Hubertus
Birthday blessing was extra-special
Bishop Hying came to St. Florian for numerous occasions.
Once, he came and blessed a statue that the Carmelite nuns gave to the church. Bishop came and blessed the statue and celebrated Mass. It was also on the day of my mom’s birthday after Mass he gave my mom a birthday blessing which was really nice.
I could go on with my stories, but in the long run, he will be missed by many Catholics in the Milwaukee area.
Tyler J. Derringer
St. Florian Parish, West Milwaukee
Calm, reassuring manner touches lives
Bishop Hying has touched our lives in many ways.
The most was the times he came to our home for dinner. He was very busy, but made time to come to hear our confessions, especially before our son’s surgery. He ate dinner, then visited, and listened to our other son play a few songs on his guitar.
We also recall our times praying with then-Fr. Don Hying at Summit Abortion Clinic. On one occasion, our son had seizures and Bishop Hying prayed over our son and reassured us the aborted baby, mother and our son would be all right.
In every situation, Bishop Hying was always calm and reassuring.
Bishop Hying, we shall greatly miss you. We shall still keep you in our daily prayers! Congratulations on your promotion!!
The Novak family
St. Margaret Mary Parish, Milwaukee
Offers strength, courage in dealing with illness
Bishop Hying has been a wonderful inspiration to our family. He has touched our life and has given us strength and courage to accept what God’s plan is for us.
We met him at the cathedral after Mass and, after having a short conversation with him, told him my husband was diagnosed with ALS and asked if he would remember him in his prayers.
He told us he would like to anoint him sometime. Since that meeting he has anointed him twice with the oil of the sick.
We were very blessed to have him take the time to do this. He said this is what God has called him to do. He has been a blessing to us with his tremendous love for God and his people. We will certainly keep him in our prayers and will miss him.
Dave and Carol Gramling
St. Mary Parish, Waukesha
Enthusiasm for confirmation evident
Last May I was a sponsor for my granddaughter’s confirmation at St. Francis Borgia Parish, Cedarburg. Samantha was the last of 80-plus candidates to be confirmed.
Bishop Hying was just as enthusiastic about this candidate’s desire to strengthen her faith as the first recipient. It was so inspiring to see that confirmation is a favorite among Bishop Hying’s episcopal duties.
St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Beaver Dam
Dental mission led to lasting friendships
A number of years ago, I was part of a “dental mission” to our sister parish, La Sagrada Familia, in the Dominican Republic arranged by Dr. Gene Gissal.
There were two dentists, and two other gentlemen and I who were picked up by then-Fr. Don and Fr. Jim Schuerman at the airport and dropped off at different homes with a five gallon bottle of water for our stay.
Each morning started with Mass, then we headed out to a different town each day with rocking chairs to use as dental chairs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to take care of the long line of those in need of dental work.
The seven of us spent each evening together talking about the people, their needs and how they were and could be ministered to.
Frs. Don and Jim were terrific with all the people there and were greatly loved.
I will always cherish the time spent there and the friendships we developed.
Deacon Buck Buth
St. Mary Parish, Menomonee Falls
Incognito, but still gracious
In March of this year, I attended a Beethoven concert at the Marcus Center.
Bishop Donald Hying was in the row behind me. He was dressed in casual clothes. He wore a sports jacket, a plaid shirt and blue jeans.
After the concert, I said to him, “Hello, Bishop. I don’t blame you for coming incognito.”
I then added, “I now belong to Our Lady of Good Hope Parish.”
Bishop Hying seemed to be surprised that I recognized him!
However, he pleasantly replied, “Say hello to Fr. Mike Barrett.”
It was a great moment.
Clara Statz Fairfax
Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Milwaukee
Mission trip with future bishop was life-changing
I first met Fr. Don on Jan. 6, 2000 at his residence at Our Lady of Good Hope. He had recently returned from an extended tour of service at our sister parish, La Sagrada Familia, in the Dominican Republic.
He and Sinsinawa Dominican Sr. Rosemary Huddleston led us, a group of eight, on one of the three “Jubilee Journey” immersion mission trips, ours being to Helping Hands, Port au Prince, Haiti, and La Sagrada Familia.
This was a turning point on my spiritual journey and it led me to work with our poor brothers and sisters on an international basis.
On many occasions, Bishop Don came out of his way to the western borders of the archdiocese for retreats, confirmations and a centennial celebration of my Knights of Columbus fraternity.
We wish him well as he leads the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.
St. Patrick Parish, Whitewater
Inspired by pro-life commitment
We will miss Bishop Hying’s strong pro-life commitment, appearing at the downtown abortion clinics to lend support to the people who witness there regularly.
But there are babies to be saved in Gary, too. And his beaming smile will light up the city.
Mary D. Strosin
Blessed Savior Parish, Milwaukee
Bishop is gift from God
Who is Bishop Hying? He is a gift from God, sent to help us live our life as Jesus did by his example. How wonderful, what a job he is doing!
I was blessed to go on three pilgrimages to Italy with the bishop and many new friends.
I am so lucky to have had that experience.
He is such an inspiration.
Thank you for your 3.5 years. You will be greatly missed by all. But God had a bigger plan for you. You will always be in my prayers.
St. Frances Cabrini Parish, West Bend
Love to be around ‘great man’
Bishop Hying was pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope and was planning a pilgrimage to Italy. He sent literature to our parish, St. Mary in South Milwaukee, so we signed up to go and had a great vacation with him. He sat with me and I was doing find and circle words and he helped me find some words.
We also went to archdiocesan Jubilee celebrations and Bishop Donald Hying was our celebrant. We had our picture taken with him. He’s a great man and we loved being with him on the trip to Italy and at Masses celebrating our 50th and now 60th anniversary.
Al and Alice Berezinski
Divine Mercy Parish, South Milwaukee
Washing dishes exemplifies joyful servant leadership
It’s impossible to share only one way that Bishop Hying touched our lives in the past seven years since we’ve become acquainted with him. He has walked with us through our joys and sorrows, has encouraged us to grow ever more deeply in the faith and in our involvement in the church through Roses for Our Lady, praying for vocations and for priests, and the pro-life movement, and has become one of our most cherished friends.
We were blessed to enjoy the company of Bishop Hying at our home on many occasions, and at his home one precious Easter Sunday morning when he cooked breakfast for all seven of us.
Each time he visited our home, he always insisted upon washing the dishes following dinner. We couldn’t refuse! He’d just jump up from the table, roll up his sleeves and start running the water!
He always said that the person washing dishes gets to request the music. The most unusual and fun request he ever had was to listen to Chaka Khan whom he met when he was pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish.
Bishop Hying exemplified joyful servant leadership and set such a wonderful example for our family, teaching us that love is shown, not through words, but through deeds. God bless Bishop Hying always!
Paul and Anne Bender
Old St. Mary Parish, Milwaukee
Bishop there for family in time of crisis
Bishop Hying is truly a wonderful spiritual inspiration for all. I met him when he and our son, Joe, were in the seminary. Joe eventually became a special ed teacher.
He had a serious accident in August 2013 and Bishop Don prayed and visited him at St. Mary’s Burn Center, my home and Joe’s home, and his visits were always uplifting to all of our family.
Our prayers and best wishes to him and we will always remember him.
The Marincic family
St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield
Franciscans grateful for bishop’s presence
Bishop Don has been a participant in several milestones in the life of the School Sisters of St. Francis community, on Layton Boulevard on Milwaukee’s south side, according to the sisters on the U.S. Province Leadership Team and International Leadership Team of the School Sisters of St. Francis.
In 2013, the sisters invited our neighbors in the Latino community to join us for a Fiesta and Mass in Spanish, and Bishop Don served as celebrant at that Eucharist. He returned as celebrant at this year’s Mass, and his ability to make Spanish and English speaking visitors of all ages feel loved and welcomed was a true gift.
Bishop Don also was on hand to bless the residents and workers for our Maria Linden Apartments initiative in 2012 and 2013 and the renovation of Sacred Heart Center earlier this year.
His presence on these occasions was so appreciated by our sisters, other residents, construction workers and staff. Of course, the sisters also remember the many times the bishop, while serving as a parish priest and as rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, came to St. Joseph Chapel to celebrate weekday and Sunday Eucharist with the community. He has been a real friend of the members of this congregation for many years.”
As we begin this Year of Consecrated Life, the women and men religious of the Diocese of Gary should be assured they will have no greater friend and ardent supporter than their new bishop.
We will miss Bishop Don and his ministry among us, but we will always welcome him back to St. Joseph Center and wish him continued blessings in his ministry.”
Submitted by the School Sisters of St. Francis
U.S. Province Leadership Team and International Leadership Team
To know him is to love him
I met Bishop Hying shortly after his priesthood ordination and he has profoundly influenced my life as well as those of my family for the 25 years we have known him.
He has been like a brother to me and my six sisters and a second son to my mother who, after meeting him, immediately adopted him into our family.
Besides sharing in numerous experiences like religious pilgrimages, Bishop Hying has baptized, married and buried numerous family members.
His love, warmth and sense of humor has always been magnetic not only for all of us, but also for many others who have met him through us.
The comments made afterwards generally follow the theme: “To know him is to love him.”
Needless to say, Bishop Hying’s spiritual influence has had an equal impact on everyone as well. He has a special gift for making every person he meets feel like they are the most important person in his life.
In essence, Bishop Hying radiates God’s love through his personal holiness and humility while serving others readily and selflessly. In fact if there is only one comment of concern I have about this wonderful priest, it would be that he does not know how to say, “No.”
It has been a pleasure to consider Bishop Hying family, a joy to call him friend and an honor to know him as an amazing priest! He is a special blessing from God that we must now share with his new family in Gary, Indiana who will surely embrace him on the spot.
While always remaining deep in our hearts, Bishop Hying will be tremendously missed and always remembered in our prayers.
St. Monica Parish, Whitefish Bay