Oct. 18, 2010
This morning’s formal announcement that the Holy Father has accepted my resignation from my administrative responsibilities as Auxiliary Bishop (in accordance with canon 401, paragraph 1) offers the opportunity for an immediate expression of my deep gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve God’s people here in southeastern Wisconsin in this fashion for these many decades. Pope Benedict XVI’s kindness to me over the years has been deeply appreciated.
These years have not always been easy, but they have inevitably offered many experiences of God’s loving mercy, grace and growth. To have lived this time in the empowering spirit of the Second Vatican Council on the one hand, but also to have experienced personally the profound sorrows of the church from the effects of the abuse of our children and youth has been a deep and painful immersion into the Lord’s Paschal Mystery. Through it all, we know that our God is always and ever an almighty source of healing and new beginnings.
Our clergy continue to stand as good and faithful brothers, “partners in the work of the Gospel.” Our people remain wise and generous in the presence of so much divine grace. Our parish communities are very vital. Looking back over the years in which I have been privileged to work under the leadership of Archbishops Cousins, Weakland, Dolan and now Jerome E. Listecki, I know that I have been enormously blessed indeed!
My plan is to offer Archbishop Listecki every bit of assistance I can during these next few months until the end of the year. Thereafter, I have many writing projects stemming from my love for the Word of God. I hope to offer weekend help out at parishes across the archdiocese and to preside at a limited number of confirmations each spring. My continuing prayer is simply “Marana Tha / Come Lord Jesus” into every aspect of the church’s mission and life so that God may be glorified and the world truly transformed by God’s healing grace! Thank you for the opportunity to serve! I am deeply grateful.
+Bishop Richard J. Sklba
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Those were the sentiments which I wrote and sent to the priests and people of our archdiocese upon learning last week that the Holy Father had accepted my letter of resignation as required of a bishop by universal church law upon reaching the age of 75. Summing it all up, surely everything is gift and grace and gratitude!
The prior weekend I had just completed the final meeting of Round XI of the national Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. By providence, we concluded with a unique celebration of the Eucharist: first the full Catholic Mass with the Scripture readings of the Sunday and Eucharistic prayer, then after the recession, the Lutheran delegation came forward and, using the same Scripture readings, proclaimed and preached earlier, to celebrate their Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran ritual.
We are still divided and the church is wounded by that reality. There could be no shared Communion. To pretend otherwise is to short circuit the Lord’s work of grace. Thus it turned out that the Catholic Eucharist followed by a still divided Lutheran celebration was my last official act of ministry!
Expressions of congratulations, though warmly offered and gratefully received, still seem very premature because I will continue to do everything I can to assist Archbishop Listecki through the month of December. There are many bases to cover and much work to do. I plan on staying at Old Saint Mary’s where people have been most kind and gracious. That community support and prayer is essential for a personal sense of continuing priestly ministry.
Thereafter I have several writing projects plus weekend parish help outs through the spring, except for Lent, when I hope to spend the weeks on the Isle of Patmos where tradition claims that John wrote the Book of Revelation. That should be a wonderful experience. Perhaps a future Herald of Hope may offer a personal report.
‘Til then, my personal thanks to each and to all, but most of all to the Lord!