Whatever the stress they might have been experiencing, in many cases the family bonded and relied on their love and faith to see them through those difficult times.
In God’s providence, he has given us the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as a model. As a family, they experienced the same challenges that all families experience. Early on they were forced to make a move from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod. “Behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.” (Mt 2: 13-15)
It is often said that three of the greatest stresses experienced in the first years of marriage are a newborn, the loss of a job and a move. The Holy Family experienced a newborn, a move to another country, and who knows what job, if any, was waiting for St. Joseph in Egypt. What was present in the lives of the Holy Family was a trust in God and love for each other. It was faith and love which directed their journey and molded them as a family.
I view the church as my family and those entrusted to my care as my brothers and sisters. Like all families, we have our challenges and we need to confront them with the same faith and love which bonds all families.
This past Tuesday, Jan. 4, the archdiocese filed for reorganization under the federal bankruptcy laws. We took this action after much prayerful deliberation and the advice of wise counsel. As the spiritual father of our archdiocese, I realize that there will be those who might be distressed by this action. Some may think are we closing our doors as a church. But just as we can never deny the needs of our family, we can never close our doors to those who seek the care of the church.
As a church we continue to serve our Lord and our brothers and sisters. We might have to adjust our ministries or reorganize our priorities, but it will be the Gospel that we serve. As a spiritual leader I know that our trust in God and love for each other must be the foundation for our going forward.
As a church, our family is large and reaches out in many different ways. Our priests and religious are dedicated servants of the Lord. They have been the backbone of the archdiocese in the parishes, schools, hospitals, charities and outreach that exists. Our lay ministers extend special care for those in need. Our deacons lead us in prayer and service. Our lay faithful participate in programs of spiritual and pastoral care. This is the Body of Christ.
We must also remember that some members of our family are wounded. These wounded family members deserve our attention and care. Victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse are our brothers and sisters. During our reorganization we will continue to reach out to them, asking for their forgiveness and seeking reconciliation.
As a family we will get through this reorganization; I have confidence that God has us where he wants us to be. We are here together at this moment because God wants us – as a family – to use our talents and ability to build his church. In my short time as archbishop, I have grown to love and appreciate the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, its priests, religious, deacons, lay ministers and lay faithful. I am certain we will meet all of our challenges and go forward together as a family in faith and love.