For the second time in less than four years, Catholic Herald staff scrambled to put together a special section on Bishop Donald J. Hying. But unlike the “Love never fails,” section of July 14, 2011, this current “Bishop Hying section” is bittersweet.
Mixed in with the congratulations of a new appointment for Bishop Hying is the realization that we are also saying, “farewell,” this time as he leaves our archdiocese and heads about two and a half hours southeast to lead the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.
This is an especially difficult goodbye for the Catholic Herald staff as we consider Bishop Hying one of our own. He’s not only been a columnist for 10 years, but his “career” with the Herald began years before that when he spent three years as a telemarketer.
Along with two other seminarians, now-Frs. Tim Kitzke and Tom DeVries, Bishop Hying “worked the phones” for about 10 hours a week, encouraging parishioners to subscribe to the weekly paper, and, according to the bishop, he’d consistently reach his quota of 25 new subscriptions a week, earning a few extra dollars in incentive pay.
Those who worked with him, however, recognized that it wasn’t the money driving his efforts, but rather his belief in the mission of the paper and its ability to evangelize the faithful.
Over the years, Bishop Hying has been one of the paper’s strongest supporters. Nearly two years ago, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki tasked him with heading a committee responsible for finding ways to increase the Herald’s circulation in order to put this vehicle for evangelization and catechesis into more homes. The fruits of his leadership and the work of the committee should be realized in the new year.
Bishop Hying genuinely supported the work of the Herald and was not hesitant in letting staff members know. On more than one occasion, he treated Herald staffers to lunch – once even shopping for the food himself and serving it to us in our offices. While enjoying his generosity, I thought that it should have been the other way around – we should have been the ones treating him for his years of support, encouragement and, of course, the many hours he spent writing for us – and for you, our readers.
As I sifted through his many columns over the past decade – the monthly Scripture reflection he wrote from 2004 to 2011 and the bimonthly Herald of Hope column since his appointment as auxiliary bishop – the enormity of his commitment hit me.
These dozens of columns were always thoughtful and relevant, reflecting his passion for the church and his faith. You can read quotes from some of these columns throughout this section.
But beyond the columns themselves, the accompanying emails offered a glimpse of the warm, caring, sometimes humorous man who crafted them.
For example, “Here is my article! Have a blessed Triduum! Keep up the great work!” and “Thank you for all that you do for the church” and “I am honored to write for another year if you will have me.”
If we would have him? Was that ever a question?
Bishop Hying took the time to get to know all of the Herald staff members and knew what was going in on in their lives. For example, a few years ago, his column came with the note, “I am praying for Kathy!” referring to staff member Kathy Nowicki, who was battling an illness at the time.
And then there were glimpses of his sense of humor.
“Don’t be too shocked! Here is my article EARLY!” and “I hope you are sitting down. Here is my article FIVE days early. Can you believe it?”
My favorite one was initially baffling.
It read, “Uyttgbjhvvhy.”
Confused, I wrote back, asking him to explain.
“It’s a new language that I am trying to patent! Actually, I have no explanation! :)”
However, he must have successfully patented the language as he continued to use it in subsequent emails: Gmnpejr Maryangela,
Fjpwe]rgjt tkooekrt re][ojkg r[-]]krgre]gb – which translates as “here is my article for Feb. 16.”
Yes, we’ll definitely miss Bishop Hying and the example he sets for all of us as a servant leader always looking out for those around him. We’ll miss his smiles, gentle encouragement, steady support and sense of humor.
But we’re also happy that another group of Catholics will benefit from his presence, teaching and faith-filled witness.
To our friends at the Northwest Indiana Catholic, Gary’s diocesan publication, know that our loss is your gain, as you will not only have a dedicated columnist but a staunch supporter in Bishop Hying – and who knows, maybe a telemarketer as well.