Thanks to all of you for the very warm welcome I’ve received. It is the perfect antidote to the cold weather and snow!
As part of my preparation for ordination as a bishop, I was asked to make a private retreat. I opted to return to a retreat center in Black Canyon City, Arizona, that I first visited as a newly ordained priest. It was originally called Our Lady of Solitude Contemplative House of Prayer and was founded and staffed by Franciscan Sister Therese Sedlock. It is a beautiful desert place, located on a large mesa between mountains and a vast Sonoran Desert landscape.
Sister Therese was a contemplative and full of love and wisdom. To any problem I would raise, she would simply say, “So what else is new?” She was a great light in my life until she went home to God some years ago.
So, in discerning where to do my retreat, I decided to return there to my spiritual home. It is now called Merciful Heart Hermitage and is a house of prayer for priests. Father Eugene Mary, a consecrated hermit, is in charge and received me so very graciously.
Since being named the 10th bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, I’ve experienced a myriad of emotions. This is surely a sea-change in my life, so while it has produced moments of true joy and deep gratitude, it also produced moments of anxiety and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the job description!
As I entered into the silence of my retreat, I meditated on a wonderful book titled “Anywhere Faith” by Heather King. She explored the call of Moses who was fixated on his own insufficiency and insecurity. She wrote: “God used a bush. He used Moses. He can use you.” She then added, “No, you can’t do it on your own. Yes, the job is too big for you. No, you aren’t sufficient in your own strength. Yes, God is able. When the task seems too big, rest in the knowledge that God is bigger.”
In reflecting on the call of Moses, the disciples, and my own call, I wrote in my journal, “I have no idea what he sees in me any more than they did. And they were in every way the most ordinary of men. What mattered wasn’t so much their abilities but what God could do through them. For God can do everything needed through us. And it is probably true that our weaknesses are very necessary lest we think that it primarily depends upon our own abilities.”
As I completed my retreat, deep down I felt at peace. It doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a mixture of emotions, but the words of Sister Therese Sedlock keep coming back to me: “So what else is new?” So, I can accept them as I think about my new ministry. I’m ready for this next great adventure to begin and I’m honored to be called to be your shepherd. Pray for me that I can be a faithful and loving one, after the heart of Christ.
Yours in Christ,
+Patrick M. Neary, C.S.C.
Bishop of Saint Cloud