Thank you, my dear family, for the love and encouragement you have shown me during these days of preparation to be ordained the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Gary. From the moment of the announcement by Pope Francis on Nov. 25, you have opened your hearts to me, for which I am most grateful.
One of the blessings for me has been to experience our mutual commitment to prayer. You prayed for “the next bishop of the Diocese of Gary” before either of us knew who that would be. Your commitment to praying for me ahead of time was very moving. I have shared with others how touched I am by that act of kindness and love. You have continued to pray for me since the announcement. Now, as your bishop, I know those prayers will continue as we follow Jesus together. I will certainly reciprocate those prayers. The Lord has given us to each other. Each day will be a new discovery as I come to know our needs and as you get to know me.
I write this column on the eve of my ordination and installation. Blessed Solanus Casey, OFM Cap, encouraged people to “thank God ahead of time.” Blessed Solanus was a humble friar whose ministry was that of porter of Saint Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. The traditional sign of a porter (the one who answered the door) is a key. The key on my coat of arms is an image representing this most holy porter, Blessed Solanus. He trusted God so completely that he already was thanking God for a future that was known only to God. I thank God ahead of time for the blessings that I will receive from you and for the good work that God will accomplish through us as we entrust ourselves to him.
As we look to the future, I also draw strength from the encouragement and support of Bishop Dale Melczek, Bishop Donald J. Hying, and Father Michael J. Yadron – our diocesan administrator until my installation. My prayer is that we can continue the journey as marked out by these two bishops, especially building upon our historic 2017 synod. My prayer is that we always present Jesus to others as we follow his commission to “go make disciples.”
My episcopal motto is: “We proclaim Jesus as Lord.” This is taken from the passage from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians: “We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5) This motto encapsulates the primacy of Jesus and the commitment to having a servant’s heart in serving our brothers and sisters.
Jesus is the answer to the question that is every human life. In Jesus, we find fulfillment and meaning. His love should permeate our entire lives as we share him with others. I pray that during my time as your bishop, I will present, not me, but Jesus to you.
My initial goals as your bishop are simple: to be an engaged and hope-filled presence throughout the diocese, to deepen my understanding of the needs of our local church and community and to build upon the foundation laid by the 2017 synod. When we bring Jesus to others, in word and deed, we are bringing hope and light. Our diocese has a beautiful and rich history. In our words and actions, we have a message of joy and love for the region and beyond. I thank God ahead of time for the great fruit we will bear as we “proclaim Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Bishop of Gary