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August 28, 2002
Solemn Mass of Installation
Feast of Saint Augustine
"Glory to God in the highest!" The first public words I spoke as
your new Archbishop, and that act of praise to the Lord perfectly
summarizes our sentiments this joyful afternoon. I thank God for the
apostolic mandate given me by our Holy Father, and praise God for the gift
Pope John Paul II is to the Church and to the world, as I renew my love
and loyalty to him as successor of St. Peter and Vicar-of-Christ. I praise
God for those noble people who make the Holy Father's presence so real and
visible for us: his nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo; his very close
collaborators, our eminent cardinals whose presence is so uplifting to us;
and one of our very own, who works daily with the Pope, who has so
thoughtfully returned home for this celebration, Bishop James Harvey. I
glorify God for the apostolic fraternity so evident in the gathering of my
brother bishops, and in particular warmly greet the president of our
episcopal conference, Bishop Wilton Gregory; my former archbishop, Justin
Rigali; my predecessor, Archbishop Rembert Weakland; a now
breathing-easier Bishop Richard Sklba; and my brother bishops from the
province of Milwaukee. "Glory to God in the highest" for the
solidarity of our priests, deacons, and seminarians here with us, brother
priests from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who now have a special place in
my heart, with whom I enjoy a bond sealed in the Heart of Christ, among
whom are Father Jerome Thompson from our mission in the Dominican
Republic, and Monsignor David Malloy from the bishops' conference in
Washington; for our consecrated religious women and men, for the company
of our generous lay collaborators, parish leaders and representatives, for
my beloved family, and so many cherished friends from afar. Thanks be to
God, for the thoughtful presence of distinguished civil leaders, and our
interfaith representatives. To all our brothers and sisters in Christ, I
pledge to continue the valuable cooperation we relish in proclaiming
Christ, in serving those in need, in protecting the dignity and sanctity
of all human life, especially the most fragile – the unborn, the sick, the
poor, homeless, and forgotten. To our elder brothers and sisters in the
Jewish faith, I look forward to our ongoing conversation about how we can
live what was revealed to us at Sinai; to the Islamic community, the
venerable Eastern religions, and all men and women of good will, I assure
you that the Catholic Church in southeastern Wisconsin will continue to be
an ally in promoting all that is true and good. I give God glory for the
vitality and promise of this venerable Archdiocese of Milwaukee, for its
159-year commitment to teach, serve, and sanctify in the name of Jesus,
for its 700,000 devoted people of God who try their best daily to love God
and neighbor, who savor their Catholic faith as that "pearl of great
price", and who are united with me now, in person and in spirit, around
this altar. And I praise God that part of the recent Cathedral renovation
was the enlargement of the throne, because it sure is comfortable! No
wonder the first public words out of me this joyful afternoon were,
"Glory to God in the highest!" The second thing you heard me say as
your new Archbishop was: "Let us pray." Packed-words those are, as
they can only flow from a heart filled with faith. So, we renew our
profound hope in God's care, His call, His loving providence, our
conviction that, without Him nothing is possible, that, with Him, nothing
is impossible, that He is with us all days, even to the end of the world,
that He never calls us to a task without providing us the grace to
accomplish it. Faith! I propose to you that this Eucharist, as
every other one, and that this installation liturgy is in fact an
adventure in fidelity, and I invite you to embark on that exciting
adventure with me. This adventure in fidelity offers us two
towering challenges: The first is: "Be not afraid!" We have a God
who repeats Himself, and over and over again in His Holy Word, throughout
the sacred saga of our salvation, He tells us: "Be not afraid!"
"Abraham, be the father of a great nation!"
"Lord, you've got the wrong guy!"
"Be not afraid, Abraham, I am with you!"
"Moses, lead my people into freedom!"
"Not I, Lord! I don't know what to say!"
"Be not afraid, Moses! I am with you!"
In today's first reading, remember?
"Jeremiah, renew my people!"
"Lord, I do not know how to speak. I am a child!"
"Do not be afraid, Jeremiah, I am with you!"
And then the most pivotal moment of all:
"Mary, you are to be the Mother of the Most High."
"Mary was deeply disturbed at these words . . ."
"Do not be afraid, Mary, the Most High will overshadow you!"
"The apostles shouted out in fright. 'It is a ghost!'"
"Courage, it is I," said Jesus. "Fear is useless; what is needed is
And now –– may I be so bold –– He repeats it again:
"Timothy, I call you to be Archbishop of Milwaukee!"
"Oh, Lord, not I! I'm too young! I'm a Cardinal fan! I prefer Bud to
I don't know how to drive in the snow! . . ."
"Do not be afraid, Timothy! I am with you!"
And to you –– you're not off the hook either, for the Lord says: "My
people of my Church in southeastern Wisconsin, unite in hope with your new
shepherd and embark on an adventure in fidelity!"
"Oh, no, Lord, not us! Haven't you heard? Haven't you watched the news and
read the papers! We're in crisis! We've lost trust! We're demoralized!
We're scandalized! We're cowering in the corner!" "Be not afraid,
People of God of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I am with you," repeats the
And there's the first charge on our adventure in fidelity: "Fear is
useless! What is needed is trust!" The second exhilarating challenge which
our adventure in fidelity presents us is again from Jesus: "Cast
out to the deep!" St. Augustine, on whose feast we gather, interprets
this mandate of Jesus to "cast out to the deep!" as a call to
profound union with Him through holiness of life, and that's my
second summons to you. During World Youth Day in Toronto last month, I was
thrilled to meet a lot of young people from here, my new Archdiocese. I'd
give anything if I could recall the name of one of them, a young man who
came up to me and said, "So, you're our new Archbishop. I don't know you,
you don't know me, but we have a best friend in common." "Who's that," I
ask. "Jesus," he replies. That's what I mean: holiness, a
deep friendship with Jesus who invites us to "cast out to the deep!"
in our love, hope, and union with Him. It is this Jesus who beckons us to
sanctity, heroic virtue, and pursuit of perfection. "You are far greater
than you think you are," He encourages us. "You are capable of moral
heroism and grandeur. You've been made for a destiny beyond your
imagining." It's really astonishingly good news: God so loved the world
that He sent His only Son; the Son so loved the world that He established
the Church to continue His saving mission. That's where you and I come in;
that's where the adventure in fidelity begins: we have the sacred
responsibility to tell all of southeastern Wisconsin something quite
amazing ¯ that we come from God and are destined to return to Him for all
eternity, that God actually lives within us, as our patron St. John
teaches us in today's Liturgy of the Word. Everything I say and do as your
shepherd will be to help the people of this great Archdiocese respond to
our Lord's invitation to "come and see", for to meet and accept Jesus is
the answer to the question that is every human life. We've heard so much
in recent months about the Catholic Church in crisis. The antidote to this
crisis, as to all the others in our long history, is fidelity, a
fidelity which gives rise to holiness. As my friend, Archbishop
Justin Rigali, observes, "There is no way anyone in the Church today can
get away with anything less than holiness!" When Tammy Eliot, one
of the many journalists and reporters who have shown such a warm interest
in my appointment, interviewed me, she remarked, "You're now an Archbishop
of a major Archdiocese, so you must feel as if you have reached your goal
in the Church." "No," I replied. "My goal is to be a saint, and I've got a
long way to go. And now my job is to challenge the people of southeastern
Wisconsin to be saints!" Remember, I'm from Missouri: Show me you are
saints! Seminarians and shut-ins, farmers and factory workers,
catechumens and catechists, from Native Americans to newly-arrived
Hispanics, police and priests, teachers and teamsters, sick and suffering
–– show me you are saints! Because, as the Second Vatican Council
teaches, this call to sanctity is universal, it extends to everyone in the
Church. I just had the joy of baptizing my newest niece, Grace Kelly
Dolan. As I held her afterwards and reflected on the mystery of what had
just happened, I thought: This is really what it's all about. This is the
Church at its best. She's just been claimed by Christ and His Church, and
has been reborn in His life; her soul is teeming with His grace; she's
going to live forever. This is how our heavenly Father sees us all, a baby
held lovingly in His arms, made in His image and likeness, brimming over
with His own life. That's holiness. There's our adventure in
fidelity, calling us to hope, not fear, inviting us to holiness, not
mediocrity. "Do not be afraid! Cast out to the deep!" And
one more message from the Master: "Come, walk to me on the water!"
For our adventure in fidelity is nothing less than following St.
Peter in walking on the water towards a beckoning Jesus. Waves and winds
crash around us; but Peter teaches us that, as long as we stay focused on
Jesus, we can do it; the moment we take our eyes off Him, we're sunk! So
the strategy is clear: we keep our eyes on Jesus ¯
as He speaks to us in His Word,
as He teaches in His Church,
as He continues to save, heal, and forgive in His sacraments,
as He can be served in the least of our brothers and sisters. And may I
conclude by proposing that we can keep our eyes on Jesus as we "walk on
the water" towards Him by learning from the patron of our great
Archdiocese, St. John, Apostle and Evangelist: At the most solemn and
critical time in His life, Jesus found His beloved disciple near Him: at
the Last Supper, with His head on His shoulder, as He gave us the
Eucharist, and there at the foot of the Cross, next to Mary, the Mother of
Jesus. My new friends in Christ: we find ourselves at a solemn and
critical moment in the life of Christ's Church. We can never go wrong in
imitating St. John: staying close to Jesus in the Eucharist, and taking
Mary into our homes as our Mother. So, there you have it, my invitation to
an exhilarating adventure in fidelity. Are you disappointed in me
that I am not more specific in what I plan to do? Then I am disappointed
in you, for who we are must always come before what we do. Remember
when St. Francis of Assisi approached Pope Innocent III for approval of
his new way of life? "But," the Pope protested, "show me your program,
your strategy, your priorities, your charter!" At which St. Francis pulled
from his brown, coarse habit the book of the Gospels. "Here is my
program." Be faithful! Be not afraid! Cast out to the
deep! Be saints! Walk on the water, through the winds and
waves, eyes focused on me . . . and everything else falls into
place. Maybe, just maybe, we need to concentrate on His plan, not
ours. "I did not find the way . . . until I embraced Christ Jesus,” writes
today's saint, Augustine. "He was calling me: 'I am the way, the truth,
the life,' but I was not listening. You were with me, but I was not with
You . . . You called, You shouted, You broke through . . . You flashed,
you shone . . . You breathed Your fragrance on me. I drew in breath and
now I pant for You. I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burn for Your peace."
"Glory to God in the highest!"