Bishop R. Daniel Conlon’s Remarks to Steubenville Faithful – May 17, 2011

STATEMENT FROM BISHOP R. DANIEL CONLON
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF STEUBENVILLE

Nine years is long enough for someone to settle into a place. Nine years is more than enough time for a pastor to become attached to a community of faith. After nine years, the Diocese of Steubenville is very much my place and my community. I even have a plot picked out in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

The Holy Spirit and our Holy Father on earth, Pope Benedict XVI, have other ideas. On Easter Tuesday, April 26, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States called on behalf of the Pope to ask that I serve as the bishop of Joliet in Illinois. Relying on God’s grace and wisdom, I said yes. On July 14 I will be installed in Joliet’s cathedral of St. Raymond.

I came to the Diocese of Steubenville in 2002 as a complete stranger. Yet, I came as a member of the Body of Christ and a priest of the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. So, I never truly felt like a stranger.

We are all pilgrims on the journey to heaven. On holy pilgrimages there are no strangers, just brothers and sisters united in the Spirit, moving in and out of each others’ lives. We hail each other, pray together, care for one another and give witness of faith to those we encounter along the way.

Just as I broke off from the Cincinnati contingent of this grand pilgrimage nine years ago, now I must break off from the Steubenville contingent and join up with the pilgrims from Joliet.

As to personal feelings, this will not be easy. Separating from the company of such dedicated priests and deacons, setting aside the hopes bound up with seminarians, deacon candidates and new religious communities, missing the talented, hard-working chancery personnel, leaving off so many fruitful and promising enterprises, and losing contact with the thousands of good people throughout our thirteen counties—how incredibly blessed I have been.

Until July 14, Pope Benedict has provided that I will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville. Then, the College of Consultors, a pre-designated group of priests, will elect a priest of the diocese to serve as administrator until a new bishop arrives. That may not be for several months.

So, we pilgrims walk on, by faith not by sight. Some days our progress is easy and joy-filled. Some days we experience delay and pain. We go together, though, and Christ leads the way, holding high the banner of victory, ironically, his cross.

I am exuberantly grateful to God for these nine years. I am grateful to the people of the Diocese of Steubenville for accepting me and joining with me to do the Lord’s work. As the hymn proclaims, “How can I keep from singing?”—even as I walk toward a new part of the pilgrimage to heaven.

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