Bishop-Callahan069The end of something should always allow a little time for thoughtful consideration of whatever it may be that is concluding. If it is something significant, perhaps some more time may be taken to evaluate and draw some relevant conclusions and possible future ideas. If not so significant, it may be time spent in shrugging one’s shoulders and simply moving on to what’s next. My time here as auxiliary bishop draws to a close. So, I take some time to ponder the past few years and offer some evaluations, ideas and thoughts before moving on to what’s next.

The time sure seems to have flown by at an alarmingly fast pace. I remember sitting down at this computer to write my first “Herald of Hope” article, and I was filled with anxiety and trepidation. Beginnings are always slow and the learning curve is more like a “loop-the-loop” times five! But the beginning was made much smoother for me by the patient and inspiring leadership of Archbishop Dolan.

Needless to say, I felt as though I was dropped into the deep end of the pool when he moved to New York and I became archdiocesan administrator. That, too, was a time filled with many positive experiences that yielded much growth and deepened my faith. Once Archbishop Listecki made his appearance on the scene, I was filled with a great sense of confidence in his abilities and certainly looked forward to a most promising future of work with him and Bishop Sklba for the good of the church. Things changed with a phone call from the apostolic nuncio on Memorial Day.

Thank you for the opportunities you have given me to serve with you here. May we continue the journey in faith together to our heavenly homeland, to which may God lead us all.

His announcement of the pope’s choice of me for the See of La Crosse certainly affected my enjoyment of brats and brew at the basilica picnic that day. So now it is on to the new adventure and the new work that the Holy Father has offered to me in the Diocese of La Crosse. I am, however, filled with hope and not a little of that old trepidation; but God is good and the situation is bright in “God’s Country.”

As I reflect on so many events that led me to this day, I only focus on how important it is that I remember that the church belongs to Jesus Christ. I am his servant and he provides excellent encouragement and grace to fulfill the tasks that lie ahead. I am blessed to have good and holy men who have served as positive role models for me in the priesthood. Now I draw upon the examples of the men who have influenced me in their service to the church as diocesan bishops. Their leadership provides me with some fine samples of genuine fraternal service to priests and faithful and loving care for God’s people.

I am grateful for the many people here in the archdiocese who have left their mark on my life over my years of priestly and episcopal service here. I give thanks for so many folks who have worked with me in administrative and clerical duties both at the Cousins Center and in parishes across the archdiocese. People who have served on commissions and committees, organizations and groups of various sorts or another have helped me to become a bit more confident in discovering my own abilities and certainly appreciating the talents and gifts God has given to them.

How grateful I am that they are in this local church and how difficult it is to move on to a new venture without having the advantage of their nearness. Again, however, I take consolation in knowing that the church belongs to Jesus Christ and his faithful people in La Crosse will form the next level of texture and strength to my service with them and we will move on together to serve the Lord and experience his blessings.

I offer my thanks to the pope for first calling me to serve as an auxiliary bishop here in the archdiocese and for sending me on now to the Church of La Crosse. Thanks to my brother bishops, priests and deacons here who have been such a tremendous source of fraternity and support.

Thanks, of course, to the faithful of the archdiocese for your cooperation in our work together and for so many signs of positive joy and hope that exist in this local church. So many people, both inside and out of the church, consider these to be difficult and challenging days for the church. Some wonder whether she will survive at all; some have made it their obligation to ensure that she does not. I believe these to be the times that call for the best from each of us. If we are challenged at all, it is the challenge to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ and his true leadership of the church.

Each of us is called to faithful discipleship and each of us must respond to the question that Jesus asks: “Who do you say I am?” Truly Jesus is the Son of God and Savior; there is no other name given to men by which we are to be saved (Acts 4:12). For any of us to answer differently will certainly color our understanding of the times in which we live and our thoughts about who will “win the day.”

Never be in doubt about the certainty of Christ’s leadership of his church. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace that comes to us from the fountains of sacramental life, there is great hope and a future filled with limitless possibility. Thank you for the opportunities you have given me to serve with you here. May we continue the journey in faith together to our heavenly homeland, to which may God lead us all.

Editor’s note: The Aug. 5 issue of yourCatholic Herald and will include stories and photos related to Bishop Callahan, including a one-on-one interview with the bishop.