Saturday, July 31, 2010

Impressive Episcopal Motto

I love the Episcopal motto chosen by Bishop David O'Connell, the newly ordained bishop of Trenton, New Jersey.  Bishop O'Connell, CM is the former president of Catholic University of America. Bishop O'Connell will assist Bishop Smith for now and succeed Bishop Smith as the 10th bishop of the diocese, after Smith retires. I read Bishop O'Connell's ordination remarks and I was impressed by what I read. The ordination took place in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton on Friday. Over 1,000 people attended, including 50 bishops and over 250 priests.
These are the remarks that I liked, "The other day someone asked me how long it took to come up with my Episcopal motto, Ministrare non Ministrari-to serve and not to be served to which I responded 'about two seconds.' When I was first ordained a Vincentian priest--(and I am so happy to see so many of my confreres here)-the gospel reading for the ordination Mass contained those words of Jesus Christ in Mark's gospel. I was struck with the phrase then as being a perfect description of how to follow the Lord as a priest: 'to serve and not to be served and to give my life as a ransom for the many.' This was how I wanted to live out my life as a priest. This is how I want to live out my life as a bishop and how I hope to exercise that responsibility."
To serve and not to be served will be a great challenge for Bishop O'Connell. To remain humble and a servant of the people will mean renewing that pledge and promise every day he's bishop. Servant leadership is Christ-like and imitating Christ should be how every bishop serves the people of God. Administrative decisions and the many tasks of a bishop can, at times, make it difficult "to serve and not to be served", so it will take continual self-reflection, evaluation and self-knowledge to stay the course. I wish him well. It's a beautiful motto and I was moved by it. I pray he can live up to it. 
I pray all bishops try to serve God's people with great humility and with a servant, Christ-like, compassionate attitude. It's what the Church needs at this time in history, in my humble opinion.

A bishop serves his people by teaching truth.....The bishop is called to be a servant of the empty tomb, not of the status quo. He leads his people to holiness by bearing witness to what the empty tomb means: joy, hope, the promise of new life.
Bishop David O'Connell-7/30/10