She made visits home to Menomonee Falls from her convent once every six months, but there’s one visit that Sister of St. Benedict Center, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Margaret Mary Baravella will never forget.
“This young priest hustled down the aisle one day … and said, ‘Hi, I’m Fr. Don. Who are you and where are you from?’” said Sr. Margaret Mary, who attended the Wednesday afternoon ordination Mass with Sr. Cecilia Cannon, who belongs to the same congregation, and their mutual friend Hester Lewis. “We became fast friends at that moment.”
After that encounter, Sr. Margaret Mary said she continued to pray for then-Fr. Hying.
“I prayed for him for all the time that he was away at the missions and really kept my ear to the ground to when he would return,” Sr. Margaret Mary said. “He was surprised. I said to him, ‘I prayed for you always,’ and he said, ‘I can’t believe you remembered me.’ I said, ‘I would not forget you, Father. You are special.’”
“You told us about him, too,” Sr. Cecilia piped in.
“Oh, I did…” Sr. Margaret Mary said. “All I can say is God’s got wonderful designs for him, I mean, exceptional designs for him, and he will live up to every single one of them – and I’m just going to cry,” she said with tears filling her eyes. “I just wanted to sob through the entire thing (ordination Mass), because I know God has wonderful things in store for him.”
Sr. Margaret Mary knows he will touch lives as a bishop.
“He’ll make anyone’s life that he touches better and so long as he’s in this diocese, or any diocese which he ever serves, he will make a huge impact on the sanctity of the people,” she said.
When Sr. Cecilia saw Bishop Hying before his ordination Wednesday morning, and called him “Father,” she reminded him that she only had a short while longer to use that title. “He said, ‘No sister, I’ll always be father,’” she said with a smile.
Sr. Cecilia said the three of them knew Fr. Hying would one day be Bishop Hying.
“There’s an old saying among priests that they will look at another priest and say ‘He is episcopal timber,’ and I used to hear this, and I said, ‘What does that mean?’ They said, ‘We think this one might become a bishop.’ And so when we met him, I said to myself, ‘That’s episcopal timber.’” Sr. Cecilia said. “He is so kind and so generous with his time – he’s very dear.”
“We have been blessed to be a part of seeing a saint in the making, and when we get to heaven, we’ll recognize him and remember this day,” said Lewis, a retired child psychiatrist.
Giovanna O’Donahue and her husband, Jon, parishioners at St. Francis Xavier in the Green Bay Diocese, attended the ordination because of the friendship they built with the newly ordained auxiliary bishop when they were parishioners at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Milwaukee, about eight years ago.
They’ve kept in touch with the man who used to dance and have water gun fights in the backyard with their children.
“He’s great with the kids,” Giovanna said of their 7-year-old daughter, Margaret, and sons, Thomas, 4, and Daniel, 2.
Giovanna, pregnant with their fourth child, was emotional during the ordination.
“It was just so different to see him with the miter on,” She said. “It’s a little overwhelming, and that’s when I kind of emotionally felt like ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s not Fr. Don anymore; it’s your excellency.’”
“I think anybody who knows him, knows him well, knows that eventually this was probably in his future,” Jon added.
Judy Braam, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Parish, Saukville, attended the ordination with her husband, Urban, a parish council representative.
“They gave us an invitation and we weren’t going to let that go,” said Judy. “We wanted to come very badly and we’re so happy that we did. It’s a wonderful, beautiful celebration.”
Urban said he looks forward to working with the new bishop because of his involvement in the parish council and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Judy Braam found the new auxiliary bishop’s comments about being a servant, at the end of the ordination, memorable.
“That he is our servant – he’s not just for Fr. (Archbishop Jerome E.) Listecki, but for everybody, everyone.” Judy Braam said. “We’re all together, we’re all the same. We’re one with each other. That’s what the church is all about, it’s one with each other.”
She also likes his “Love never fails” motto.
“That’s right,” she said. “If you do love, it never fails – we’ll always win.”
Judy Braam’s biggest hope is that he follows what he says he’s going to do, and that he’ll himself visible in the parishes. “Hopefully he will visit the parishes and let us see him and speak with him, and all that wonderful stuff that goes with his duty,” she laughed.
Vue Yang, parishioner and parish council member at St. Peter Claver Parish, Sheboygan, said attending Bishop Hying’s ordination Mass was a blessing. Yang conquered two firsts by attending: He experienced an ordination, and had the chance to meet the new bishop whom he described as “very open” and “human,” from what he observed during the ordination.
“He’s a person – he’s a very human person with everybody,” said Yang.
He didn’t know Bishop Hying before he was named bishop, but he hopes that will change.
“I hope he will be with people and bring blessings to a lot of people…” he said. “I hope that he will visit everybody, every church and get to know people so we know who our Bishop Hying is.”
Tammy Dotson, Bishop Hying’s second cousin, waited in the reception line outside the cathedral to greet her cousin, along with her 10-year-old daughter, Emily, her friend Robert Davis, and her aunt, Janice Kilby, Bishop Hying’s first cousin.
“It’s just wonderful,” said Dotson, a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in the La Crosse Diocese. “He’s a wonderful person, he’s a wonderful priest and we’re just thrilled, so very happy and very proud, as his parents would be also.”
The most memorable moment of the ordination for Dotson was when Bishop Hying mentioned his family.
“When he mentioned his family, his parents being up there – they were very, very religious and they would have been here by his side without a doubt,” she said of Bishop Hying who concelebrated Emily’s first Communion Mass with the parish priest and gave her daughter Communion.
“It was a very moving moment for us then just as this is a moving moment for us now,” said Dotson, who’s 10 years younger than the bishop with whom she shares a birthday.
Kilby, a parishioner at St. Dennis Parish in the Madison Diocese, said the cousin she remembers playing with as a child on her grandparents’ farm, also concelebrates funeral Masses for their families.
“When the aunts or uncles pass away, he comes and concelebrates the Mass for them as well, so that’s just a really, very touching thing that he does,” Kilby said. “It means a lot to the family.”
Now that the ordination’s over and Bishop Hying’s officially auxiliary of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Dotson has high hopes for her cousin.
“As a bishop I know he will bring more people into the church, and I hope that he will continue to succeed in the Catholic Church as I’m sure others are hoping so as well, and I hope he gets more trips with his family – we would all like to go to Rome, Fr. Don,” she laughed.