COLORADO SPRINGS. The ordination of Bishop James R. Golka took place on June 29 — the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul — and the lives and witness of both saints were woven throughout his installation as the third Bishop of Colorado Springs.
In his homily during Solemn Vespers at St. Mary’s Cathedral on the evening of June 28, Bishop Golka started out by explaining that he had been fascinated by the life of St. Paul ever since choosing him as his patron saint for the sacrament of confirmation at age 15.
“I’m struck by how much St. Paul suffered,” he said. “St. Paul never stopped — he kept on going. St. Paul himself says three times he was beaten with rocks, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, he spent a night and day adrift at sea, yet he kept on going.”
The challenges that Catholics face in evangelizing the culture today are similar to those St. Paul faced, Bishop Golka said.
“St. Paul went into Gentile territory; that means he went into communities and cultures that did not know much of Jesus Christ. I’m struck that maybe that’s what we’re called to do today again,” Bishop Golka said. “I think we admit that, for much of our culture, we cannot assume any more that they all know the story of Jesus. In our Catholic tradition, we cannot assume that they know their Catholic faith, nor that they are practicing it. So in a sense, we are sent into mission territory — an apostolic mission to somehow proclaim who Jesus is, for me and my life and for you and yours.”
Bishop Golka also said that, in the weeks leading up to his episcopal ordination, he had spent a lot of time praying about the life of St. Peter.
“Three weeks ago, I was on retreat and my retreat director asked me to spend four prayer periods with different images of Peter in the Scriptures,” he said. “I sat down for my first prayer session; I was in the boat with Peter, but Jesus never came. Then Peter stood up, grabbed my hand and led me directly to the Last Supper. And he forcefully and lovingly sat me down in a chair, and I looked around and there was Jesus with a basin, a towel and a pitcher of water. And he started washing my feet. I’d never been so humbled in my life. And if Jesus has never washed your feet, it’s really great . . . He’s ever ready to wash away that part of you that you think is so bad, that (you think) is the worst thing in the world. Our savior has come and shows us the way.”
At the June 29 Mass of Installation at Holy Apostles Church, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, read a letter from Pope Francis stating: “Dear Bishop Golka, we pray that you may be a lover of God, following in the footsteps of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, proclaiming the good news of salvation and giving your life for Christ.”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver also pointed to the example of Sts. Peter and Paul in his homily during the Mass on June 29.
“You, my dearest brother, will be one who points to Jesus Christ, not to yourself. As you shared with us beautifully yesterday, you have experienced Jesus washing your feet; you have put your faith in him. Know that what you are entrusted with today is to wash the feet of all of the faithful of the Church of Colorado Springs.”
“We live in similar times to those of the great apostles,” Archbishop Aquila said. “They lived in pagan times in which there were all sorts of different gods, but they gave witness to Christ, no matter what the cost — even their own lives. We too live in a time in which Christendom is dead. Our society and culture are no longer built on Judeo-Christian principles. We see the abandonment of God. And yet we must be those who, in falling with love with Jesus, point to him and proclaim the good news of the Gospel and bring the joy of the Gospel to others.”
Archbishop Aquila also singled out Bishop Golka’s parents for their transmission of the Catholic faith to their 10 children.
“It was your witness, Mr. and Mrs. Golka, to Jim when he was child that planted that seed of faith, and planted it in the hearts of all of your children,” Archbishop Aquila said. “You were the domestic Church; you were the ones who taught Jim about Jesus and gave witness to Jesus. It is an incredible gift, and you do not know how your children will receive it. I’m sure that when James was a child, you never thought you would be here today.”
Text of Apostolic Letter of Appointment from Pope Francis
(Following is the English translation of the Apostolic Letter of Appointment from Pope Francis designating Bishop James Golka as the Bishop of Colorado Springs. It was read by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Papal Nuncio to the United States, during the ordination Mass at Holy Apostles Church on June 29:
To Our beloved Son, James R. Golka, presbyter of the Diocese of Grand Island and, until now, Vicar General there, appointed Bishop of the Church in Colorado Springs, greetings and Apostolic Blessing.
Knowing full well how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one announcing peace, bearing good news and proclaiming salvation (Confer: Isaiah 52,7), We, for our part, rejoice, sparing no effort so that the Kingdom of the most merciful Lord might grow throughout the whole world. Encouraged by this happy consideration, We persistently devote Ourselves to provide that all ecclesial communities have as their own Ordinaries zealous heralds of the ineffable love of God. Accordingly, We turn Our attention at this time to the Diocese of Colorado Springs, to which We wish to assign a new Bishop, owing to the resignation of Our Venerable Brother Michael John Sheridan. And so, you beloved Son, who, up to now, have carried out a diligent ministry, clearly showing a love for Christ and His Church, are, in Our judgment, suitable for undertaking the episcopal office.
Therefore, upon consultation with the Congregation for Bishops, by the fullness of Our Apostolic authority, We appoint you Bishop of the See of Colorado Springs, conferring upon you all the due rights as well as imposing the relative obligations, in accord with the norms of the Code of Canon Law. Prior to Episcopal Ordination, which you may receive anywhere outside the City of Rome, the liturgical prescriptions being observed, you must make the Profession of Faith and take the Oath of Fidelity towards Us and Our Successors. You will inform the clergy and the faithful about your appointment, and We cordially encourage them to comply gladly with you as their teacher.
Finally, beloved Son, we devoutly call upon the Holy Spirit to assist the Local Church entrusted to you, praying through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that of Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, that its people be deemed worthy to follow a straight path along the way of salvation, truth and justice, which thus remains in this world a strong support and the foundation of charity.
Given at Rome, at the Lateran, on the thirtieth day of the month of April, in the year of the Lord two thousand twenty-one, the ninth of Our Pontificate.
— POPE FRANCIS