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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 trust!"

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 Miller!
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 Lord.

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!"