We live in amazing times. We live amidst a time when the Church undergoes many changes which show the power of the Holy Spirit. With change comes stress. But, with change comes a refreshing wind of renewal and power.
Pope Benedict XVI
Last Monday, the world awoke to the surprising news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, his age and health being the reason for his stepping down. Of course, this sets in motion an ancient ritual that is rarely seen, the election of a new Pope. Even more rare is the election of a pope after the resignation of a pope. This has happened only a handful number of times. The last time that happened was with Pope Celestine V in 1294 (719 years ago) who left after only five months in office, and then later amidst more controversy, Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (598 years ago) who resigned in order to end the Western Schism also known as the Avignon Papacy. The secular world will churn over Benedict's reasons for leaving, but the Pope has spoken about resignation previously, so in another sense, we shouldn't be all too surprised.
I appreciate Pope Benedict XVI's history of candor. He has been a good communicator and open to new forms of technology in order to spread the New Evangelization. He has been a fantastic Pope, especially under such difficult times in the Church and the world. He has been the leader we needed. His humility and wisdom in his decision to resign has further made me appreciate him as our wonderful "German shepherd." His legacy will echo for years to come. Let us pray for his health. Let us also pray for the coming conclave who will elect the next Roman Pontiff(Pontiff = "bridge-builder") who will help us bridge our lives with Jesus himself.
This past Saturday, Feb. 16th, Archbishop Vlazny came to preside over our Vicariate Rite of Election where our catechumens were officially recognized as “Elect” for baptism at the Easter Vigil. In addition, our “Candidates” for full communion were recognized and encouraged in their journey towards the Catholic Church. This celebration marks his last official visit to our parish as our Archbishop. He will return for our Mass of Confirmation on May 11th at 1 PM, but he will then be officially retired and no longer our Ordinary whom we mention in the Eucharistic Prayers at Mass.
With each visit of Archbishop Vlazny throughout his tenure, our community has been graced by a chief shepherd who has lifted up our spirits and encouraged our faith. He has certainly lead us through some difficult times in our Archdiocese. May God bless him in this next chapter of his life!
As we prepare for Archbishop Vlazny’s leaving, we will need to begin preparing for welcoming Archbishop Designate Alexander Sample from the Diocese of Marquette. I am sure his youth (52 yrs. old) and vitality will be a gift he will bring to our Archdiocese. I am hope-filled that he will be a loving and strong leader for us all. He certainly has credentials that make him a great bishop. He’s also a geek too, of which I am proud!
The Archdiocese is planning a series of Masses of Welcome for our new Archbishop, which will include one in our Vicariate. All will be invited and we hope to have a public reception following. The date or location has not yet been determined. But, we will make sure to let everyone knows when we receive more information. In the meantime, consider attending his official Installation Mass on April 2nd at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center located in Northwest Portland. This Mass will be open to the public and all are invited to attend. Seating will be first come-first served. There will be a public reception at the Chiles Center, immediately following the Mass.
Spring is coming and we are beginning a time of change, and while change may be hard, it is good for us all. Please pray for our Holy Father Benedict XVI, all our bishops, the College of Cardinals who will elect the next Pontiff, and especially our local bishops' continuing leadership of our faithful here in our Archdiocese.
Fr. William Holtzinger