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November 21, 2008

The question often goes something like this: “Bishop, you called your first pastoral letter “The Church Alive!” But do you really see “The Church Alive!” here in the diocese?”

As you well might guess, I face lots of questions each day, all important, some challenging, a few rhetorical. But the question, “Do you really see the church alive here in the diocese?” is both exciting and prophetic!

If you want to know if our diocese is “The Church Alive!” just follow me around for a couple of days.

November 14, 2008

If you come to visit my office, you will notice in the hall outside a host of art, photos and memorabilia from my days in both Pittsburgh and Green Bay. I admit that the mix is a bit of a personal mosaic — everything from an autographed Steelers football to seminary posters, photos of Downtown Pittsburgh bridges to nostalgic Steelers Super Bowl posters from the former Horne's department stores. There's a little bit of old Pittsburgh — and a little bit of old Green Bay as well.

One of my favorites on the wall is a watercolor of a snowbound church in Wisconsin.

October 31, 2008

Let me make this clear right up front: I'm not going to tell you in this column who to vote for in the presidential election. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for in the congressional election, or any local election.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand are telling you to vote for Barack Obama. Celebrities like Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer are telling you to vote for John McCain.

October 10, 2008

Each of us can be reminded all too often of the famous old Pogo cartoon by Walt Kelly that declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

I remember the time when my parents had bought a birthday gift for me as a young priest — one of those cabinets that could hold a television, a stereo player and tapes. The night they purchased it for me, I didn’t get home until 10:30 p.m. I was dead tired, and I should have just left it alone as I’m not much of a handyman. On the box was printed that dire warning, “Some Assembly Required.” But I opened it anyway.

September 26, 2008

There have been a thousand joys in these past 365 days. Taking part in the Holy Father’s visit to the United States and the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Australia have to be very high on any list of the big moments of the last year.

But the biggest high of the past year has been the opportunity to be with so many of you ...

September 12, 2008

Every year on my birthday, my mom made sure that, wherever she was and wherever I was, she connected with me at the actual time that I was born — 3:35 p.m. If I was in her company, she matched her best wishes with a tender kiss. If I was away, either near or far, she would call by phone. I was ready for the call. I awaited the call. I cherished the call. Those calls stopped with her death in 2006.

Given my appreciation for tradition, after her death I decided to return the favor to her. I now connect with her in prayer at the exact time of my birth — 3:35 p.m.

August 15, 2008

As one of the “baby boomers,” our generation became the first television generation.

July 18, 2008

I’d like to point out a few things to keep in mind as you read it. There are any number of beautiful lessons in “Humanae Vitae” that are often forgotten or misunderstood. First and foremost, many assume that Pope Paul VI somehow “created” church teaching on artificial birth control in light of the development and widespread distribution of the birth control pill in the 1960s.

July 4, 2008

Why do people use such language? Pick your reason: ignorance, the need to shock, poor upbringing, lousy education, missing manners. The list goes on and on.

But I also wonder if there is something deeper going on, something that we all share, even if Carlin’s “seven words” never pass our lips, another type of vulgarity that summarily dismisses another person.

Maybe it’s the ease of instant e-mail, the impact of shock-jock radio or talking-head television or the millions of bloggers without editors. But one thing is certain: our language has not just become more vulgar.

June 6, 2008

Some years ago as a particular parish trained its candidates for baptism at the Easter Vigil, the pastor practiced with those to be baptized and told them they would each have to individually proclaim their baptismal promises.