Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
I realized this week that I have not communicated with you since the announcement of my appointment as coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
In a very real way, I have been stunned by this nomination. I try not to listen to rumors, but inevitably I had heard that other fine and capable bishops were being considered for this office. I silently wished them well. My present diocese, I thought, was enough for me.
As you know, the local newspapers have assumed a "tabloid-like sensational" posture to my nomination, seeking to discredit me in your minds before we even meet. Personally, I find this very inhospitable and not at all in keeping with the classic Minnesota attitude of "fair play."
I ask you to keep an open mind at least until we meet, which I hope will be soon.
I plan to begin making the rounds to our parishes, our Catholic schools and religious education programs as soon as the summer ends.
You know, I have always considered the church a family. We may disagree about one thing or another, but we must, in the end, reconcile our wills to the mind of Christ as it comes to us through his body, the church.
A year from now, I am to be the father of this great archdiocesan family of some 837,000 members. Just the thought of such a responsibility is enough to keep me awake at night!
But throughout my priesthood, I have been given other challenging to impossible assignments. In each one, I have worked as hard as I could and been as faithful as I knew how. And you know what? God has always made up for that which I lacked!
If I have not told you before, I am honored to think that one day I will be your archbishop, following in the footsteps of our wonderful, dedicated Archbishop Flynn and all his great predecessors. My vocation as your future archbishop is to love you with the love of Jesus and to speak to you constantly of his great and merciful love. I promise to do so with all the strength of my mind, heart and will.
Please pray for me during this transition. I find it very difficult to leave the people of the Diocese of New Ulm, who have been family to me. Yet, I have confidence in the Lord Jesus to lead me forward and in his Holy Mother to see that I do what her son truly desires.
God bless you! The Catholic Spirit