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A New Shepherd

06/25/2021 | Comments

          I remember the surreal feeling I had at the altar the first time I said “Francis” our Pope. I was visiting my dad in Missouri when the news broke that the Pope had resigned. At the time, I thought maybe Pope was the name of some local politician. I was stunned when I realized it was THE Pope!

          Transitions can be difficult and strange. We have all been through getting a new boss or a new pastor. We know what it’s like adjusting to new expectations and new routines. Most of us aren’t big fans of change.

          We’ve all known Bishop Sheridan wouldn’t be here forever. When he turned 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops, in 2020, none of us really knew exactly when his retirement would take effect. Since I work directly for the bishop’s office, I was particularly anxious. I talk to Bishop Sheridan almost every day, and he has been a wonderful support of campus ministry and the vocation office.

          And now the time has come. This Tuesday, the new boss will be here. Father James Golka will become Bishop James Golka, the third bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Since his announcement, most of us have been curious to find out more about him. We’ve googled him, looked for things he’s written, videos he’s made. People have written him letters and emails, even friended him on social media. As a parish priest in a small town in Nebraska, there isn’t a whole lot to find. But what we know him to be hard-working, from a devoted and loving family, genuinely prayerful, and passionate about spreading the Gospel, all good qualities for a new shepherd. We should all pray for him as he prepares to undertake this important new ministry.

          We all know how difficult it can be to move away from something comfortable. Bishop Golka is leaving his family, his hometown diocese, and a cathedral parish that he has truly loved serving. I can only imagine how tough it will be to adjust to a new hometown and new people, not to mention dealing with all the people who will be lined up to share their helpful and not so helpful suggestions about what he needs to do. Now is not the time to make an appointment, and most of us who have been in charge of something know that the first people who want to bend your ear usually have something they want you to change before you know any better!

          But now is the time to embrace the challenge of taking the Diocese of Colorado Springs to the next level as collaborators with our new shepherd. As clergy and lay faithful, we can all work together to build up this local church.

          The Diocese of Colorado Springs is blessed with a firm foundation. We are grateful for the hard work of Bishop Hanifen and Bishop Sheridan. Bishop Golka is inheriting a Diocese that is primed for the next level. While many parts of the country are deciding which parishes to close and dealing with a shortage of priests, we are opening a Newman Center, building a new school, and celebrating four new men who have been accepted to the seminary for the coming fall. There is much potential here. There are countless opportunities to deepen our own spiritual life and help others discover God’s love for them, His invitation to deepen the interior life, and the beautiful gift He gives us each day in the Eucharist.

          As we prepare to receive the Eucharist this week, we rejoice in the fruitful service of Bishop Sheridan, pray for our new Bishop, and most importantly, ask our High Priest, Jesus Christ, to give all of us the wisdom, courage, and zeal, to work together with our leaders to form true missionary disciples dedicated to building up the kingdom of God in this local church.