The announcement during Advent that Long Island, NY-which for Catholics is the Diocese of Rockville Centre would be getting a new Bishop was met with surprise at St. Agnes Cathedral on the morning of December 9th. Many Church insiders knew it would be announced soon, since Bishop Murphy had turned 75 and had submitted his retirement papers, as mandated by canon law. But there was the new Bishop concelebrating morning Mass, with Bishop Murphy, along with the Rector, just like that. I usually watch daily Mass at midnight (it is televised from the Cathedral), as it is re-televised on Telecare at night and its a good way for me to end the day. Yes I do stay up that late, sometimes later. And I did watch Bishop Barres being introduced to the daily Mass goers by Bishop Murphy that day, as he humbly concelebrated. The Cathedral has been totally renovated and so Bishop Barres walked into a beautiful, newly renovated Cathedral. That was good.
Bishop Barres, age 56, will need his Ivy League education, plus all the experience he gained as Bishop of Allentown, PA, plus his relatively young age, and his deep prayer life, because there is a lot going on, on Long Island. There's lots of diversity, natural beauty, faith-filled people, great Catholic schools and parishes which is a good thing, but there's lots of challenges here as well.
Long Island has a fair share of unchurched, under evangelized, nominal Catholics, who don't go to Church on Sunday. But that's everywhere, not just on Long Island.
Another challenge is the youth, how can they be evangelized, so they see the value in attending Mass and praying regularly. Of course some do, but not enough. How can the Bishop or anyone for that matter, get them away from their cell phones for one hour, so they can attend Mass and experience the peace and comfort that comes from prayer and worship of God?
There is so much wealth on Long Island, especially in the Hamptons, but there is also poverty. That's another challenge......There's the very rich, the somewhat rich, the struggling middle-class (many are just picking up and leaving and heading South where its cheaper to live) and the poor, who need help and mercy.
Bishop Barres can gain comfort from knowing Catholic Long Islanders (among others) are praying for his success and blessings on his episcopacy. May God give him the wisdom and guidance he needs to face the challenges. Amen.