Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confirmation and part of why I heart my Bishop

Confirmation was about a month ago at the parish and yes as I do with most of the blogs, I type the highlights of what I want to talk about and then step away from the computer.

I've known my bishop for awhile.  I still remember my first encounter with Fr. Serratelli on that March for Life Bus in January of 1998.  I remember when he became Msgr. Serratelli and I certainly remember taking a summer session week long course with him my junior year so I could have enough credits to be a senior and get the hell out of Seton Hall.  Yes, I was insane enough as an undergraduate to take a graduate level course with a man who knows Scripture like the back of his hand.   Wonderfully for me, I was naive enough to not realize what I was really doing and when it came down to it, then Msgr. Serratelli was very nice, and kind and maybe it was because I was an undergraduate but I enjoyed that class and was not one bit scared of the oral exam he gave as a final.  I remember sitting in the Seminary dinning room and hearing him say "It's like Daniel entering the lion's den. Imagine we're over in Campus Ministry having a conversation."  Thus began my personal interaction with the man who is currently my bishop.

I take great joy in saying I know the Bishop of Paterson and I take even more joy in knowing that he knows my name and hasn't forgotten it like he usually blames his miter for.  Fr. Geno's comments at his Mass of Thanksgiving about our Bishop, well it's a sort of lack of comments, because FG didn't say much, but his reaction while mentioning Bishop Serratelli showed his love and passion for the man he calls "boss" (for a few more weeks) and the man I call "Pappa Arty, I mean Bishop" This action reminded me of how much I love my bishop and how much it pains me to hear people talk disparagingly about him.  I know Bishop moves the priests around a lot and that my parish seems to get the brunt of it, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like us.  I'm tired of people complaining that this one doesn't do this and this one doesn't do that.  Own up to your actions and thoughts, get to know the person, attempt to get to know the person before you just say he doesn't like us so I don't like him.

I know my personal connection makes it for a lack of better terms, personal, when someone attacks Bishop.  I know it's that time of year and we're bound to have yet another change in staff at the parish, but we just have to deal with it.  Maybe Bishop only wants the guys to have a year or two at a bitchy parish and then move them on, I mean really nothing can be worse than a place that complains about everything.

Oh well before I get totally off topic the original intent of the blog was about the homily Bishop Serratelli gave at Confirmation.  I only remember portions of it, but Bishop does not preach for long but he gets his point across.  Bishop started his homily out with the legend of Quo Vadis, where Peter while leaving Rome meets Jesus and asks "Lord, where are you going?" to which Jesus replies, "To Rome to be crucified again." Of course Peter gains his confidence and returns to Rome to where he faces his eventual martyrdom.  This story always reminds me of Seton Hall and my Latin class, so Bishop had hooked me in.  The basis of his homily is that we should always be living our lives as a follower of Jesus, meaning that the sacrament doesn't end at the ceremony but that it continues on.  The comment live your life as a follower of Jesus struck me as yes Bishop was preaching to teens who face far more issues than I did at their age, but it's true for all of us.  It reminds me of the question "Is there enough evidence to convict me of being Christian, or in my case Catholic?"

That is what stayed with me from Bishop's homily. It's not in his preaching, though it is good, that Bishop excels, but at his questions and answers session. In the question and answer session you get to see Bishop's passion for teaching come out, you get to see the personable side of him come out.  It always leads to the vocations speech, but hey he's the bishop, he's got to talk about vocations. This time it wasn't the vocation to priesthood or religious life that he spend his time on, but the vocation of marriage. Bishop spoke about how one is called to marriage in the same way that one is called to religious life and how each vocation comes with it's ups and downs.  He spoke of how no vocation is easy, but that there is joy in the vocation.  I remember thinking this is what he was talking about at the Chrism Mass of how if the priests are on fire and are full of joy that the lay people will follow suite.  I sat there as he said the vocation will not be easy, you'll have to do things you don't like, give things up, but there will be joy.

Joy seems to be a buzz word right now.  Fr. Geno mentioned it, Bishop has mentioned it and our Holy Father speaks of how there is a poverty of joy in the world.  As I type this I keep looking down and seeing the memorial card for Fr. Jim Sheehan, who passed away last August after a battle with cancer.  The picture on the card shows the joy in which Fr. Jim served the Archdiocese of Newark.  Looking back on all the priests I have meet in my life, the ones that I have come to know and love have much joy in what they do and in life.  Bishop Serratelli may not always enjoy his job, but he is a joyful person, same goes for the pastor of the parish.

I can't help but think that some day soon I'll be doing work for and in the Church.  I know it won't be easy but it is joyful work.

May God continue to bless and watch over my wonderful Bishop, priests and of course the Holy Father.