By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 25, 2009
First some very good news for the Church in the Upper Midwest. Yet another admirable young priest from our archdiocese has been chosen by Pope Benedict to become a successor to the apostles. By now I'm sure that you are all aware that Father Paul Sirba, forty-nine years old, will be consecrated, probably in mid-December, as the ninth bishop of Duluth. For many years Father Sirba was the chief spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary (on the campus of the University of St. Thomas), and more recently he was the spiritual director at the St. Paul (The major) Seminary. Between those two postings he served for several years as the much loved pastor of Maternity of Mary parish (on Dale Street near the intersection with Wheelock Parkway). Most recently, as Vicar General of the Archdiocese, he has worked very closely with Archbishop Nienstedt. Affectionately dubbed "the.Saint of Dale Street" by his fellow priests, Father Sirba is intelligent, humble, courteous and kind, eminently conscientious and prayerful; he also combines an unwillingness to fudge the truth for the sake of ecumenical good feeling with a deep respect for the dignity of others, including those whose opinions differ sharply from his own. He is exactly what the Church needs in her bishops today: a leader who, precisely because he is inspired by a charity that is profound, will defend the truth courteously but without compromise till his last breath.
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Father Sirba's successor as Vicar General will be Father Peter Laird, a friend and former student of mine. He exemplifies the high quality that prevails generally among our younger priests.* * * * *
Father Sirba is the fourth priest of our archdiocese to be named a bishop within the last two years; he joins Bishop John LeVoir of New Uhn; Bishop Peter Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin; and Bishop Lee Piché, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I am privileged to claim them all as friends, and three of them I first came to know in the classroom at St. Thomas. Here in the archdiocese we will miss Father Sirba, as we miss Bishops LeVoir and Christensen. But-- their assumption of much wider and higher responsibilities means that the Church's outreach to souls will be greatly enhanced. Please keep them and, for that matter, all of our country's bishops in your daily prayers. The storm clouds are thickening over our nation today, and a requirement for being an effective bishop in the very near future will be great courage, like that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani, the kind of courage that is nourished only by prayer.* * * * *
A propos of Bishop Piché, over and above his many other duties, he has been given the responsibility of supervising the appeal on behalf of liquidating the indebtedness still remaining from the expenditures involved in the replacement of the Cathedral's huge copper dome. Thanks to your generosity our congregation, despite its small size, was able this past week to present to Bishop Piché a check for nearly $5,000 as, our contribution to this archdiocesan appeal. (The precise sum was $4,930.00). Your dedication to the glorification of God coupled with your determination to maintain the major monuments that are a source of great and justifiable pride in our archdiocese is worthy of high praise. Thank you, and God bless you all.* * * * *
Speaking of the archdiocese, during my retreat a couple of weeks ago I was able to read all 600 pages of Pilgrims to the Northland, a recently published history of the archdiocese, from the explorations of Father Hennepin and the French Voyageurs to the convocation of Vatican II, written by my life-long friend Father Marvin O'Connell, now retired but for many years the chairman of the History Department of Notre Dame. Father O'Connell, the distinguished author of many books, is a priest of our archdiocese who in the earlier years of his priesthood taught at St. Thomas. I heartily recommend reading his highly detailed and fascinating account in a slow and leisurely way, perhaps at the rate of a chapter a week. It. is a magnificently organized treasure trove of information about the beginnings and the astonishing growth of Christ's Church in the Upper Midwest!
* * * * *And finally as Congress, or at least the dominant faction in Congress, seeks to elaborate a synthesis of the competing plans for the reform of health care, plans that give every sign of allowing a back door to open for the federal funding of abortion, may I share with you the following reflection printed recently in the parish bulletin of Maternity of Mary parish. I don't know the author's name, but this "Diary of an Unborn Child" has been around for quite a while.
Diary of An Unborn Child
October 5-Today my life begins. My parents do not know it yet because I am as small as a seed of an apple, but it is I already. And I am to be a girl. I shall have blond hair and blue eyes. Just about everything is settled though, even the fact that I shall love flowers.
October 19-Some say that I am not a real person yet, and that only my mother exists. But I. am a real person, just as a crumb of bread is truly bread.
October 23-My mouth is just beginning to open now. Just think, in a year or so I shall be laughing and later talking. My first word will be "MAMA"
October 25-My heart began to beat today all by itself. From now on it shall beat for the rest of my life without ever stopping to rest. After many years it will stop, and I shall die.
November 2-I am growing a bit every day. My arms and legs are beginning to take shape. But I have to wait a long time before my little legs will raise me to my mom's arms or to climb on daddy's lap.
November 12-My fingers are beginning to form on my hands. Funny how small they are. I'll be able to touch my mom's hair with them.
November 20-It wasn't until today that the doctor told my mom that I am living under her heart. Oh, how happy she must be.
November 25-My mom and dad must be thinking about a name for me, but they don't know yet if I am a boy or a girl. I want to be called Rosie, I am getting so big already.
December 10-My hair is growing. It is smooth and bright and shiny. I wonder what kind of hair mom has.
December 13-1 am just about to see. It is still dark around me. When mom brings me into the world it will be full of sunshine and flowers. But what I want to see most, more than anything else, is the faces of my mom and dad.
December 24-I wonder if mom hears the whispering of my heart. Some children come into the world a little sick. But I am healthy and my heart is strong. It beats so evenly: tup-tup-tup, tup-tup-tup. Mom, you are going to have a very healthy little daughter!
December 28-Today mom and dad had somebody kill me!