During the past few days, many of you noticed that I received an additional assignment. I was asked by the Holy See to be the Apostolic Administrator for our neighboring Diocese of Rochester. For some of you this raised questions: “What is an Apostolic Administrator? What does it mean? What is the duration of the assignment?” So I decided to use my weekly column to answer these questions.
Before I turn my attention to these questions and try to shed some light on the responsibilities of an Apostolic Administrator, there is a related topic I want to address. During the summer, our good neighbor to the west, Bishop Matthew Clark, the eighth Bishop of Rochester, celebrated his 75th birthday. As required by Canon Law, Bishop Clark submitted his resignation to the Holy Father, who accepted it on September 21, 2012.
Originally a priest of the Diocese of Albany, ordained in 1962, Bishop Clark served faithfully as the Bishop of Rochester for 33 years. His profound pastoral service to the people of the Diocese of Rochester has been a great blessing for many. It is extremely unusual in these days for a bishop to serve for such a significant amount of time. It is a long workday, a long time to bear the warmth of the noon day sun. It is a long time to shepherd faithfully a portion of God’s flock.
I am personally grateful to Bishop Clark for his dedicated service and for the example he gives of standing in the midst of his people “as one who serves.” In addition, he has been a friend through many years, welcoming me and supporting me in my early days as a bishop and now welcoming me graciously as I care temporarily for the people of the Diocese of Rochester. It is my strong hope that I can be a solid bridge connecting the eighth Bishop of Rochester with the person who will succeed him. I do not know when that will be or who it will be, but I pledge to the priests and people of the Diocese of Rochester my attentive devotion and my loving concern. I look forward to getting to know them and to assist them in this time of transition.
When a Bishop submits his resignation and it is accepted, there are a number of ways in which the Holy See provides for the care of a diocese. In this particular case, I was asked to serve as Apostolic Administrator. An administrator is a caretaker. The Apostolic Administrator has the authority to govern a diocese during the period of time between bishops. Usually nothing new or startling takes place during this time. I was happy to accept this invitation to serve the Church in this manner. I will do my best to care for the fine people of the Diocese of Rochester and its institutions.
At this time, it is my intention to spend one or two days a week in Rochester and to use the means of modern communication to carry on the additional business of the diocese. Father Joseph Hart, who served as Bishop Clark’s Vicar General, will serve as my delegate for the day-to-day operation of the diocese. We will be in daily contact.
I assure you, with these additional responsibilities, I remain committed fully to the Diocese of Syracuse. I will do all that is possible to serve the needs of our beloved diocese as well as our good neighbors to the west in the Diocese of Rochester.
So, please keep me in your prayers in a special way during this time. And pray also for our sistersand brothers in the Diocese of Rochester. May they soon receive a new Bishop who will serve them well for many years to come.
If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.