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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
April 25, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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April 25, 1998
 

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ass cause years as In 'public apology' to Catholics, bishop asks for forgiveness for failures By Bishop Andrew J. McDonald PRAYER TO THE VIRGIN MARY Mother of mercy and love, blessed V'wgin Mary --- Mother of Jesus, Mother of priests We are poor and unworthy priests and bishop. We turn to you in confidence and love. You stood by your Son as he hung dying on the cross. Stand also by us, poor priests and bishop by an p.e and bi ho who daily stand at your altar in riffs diocese and flwoughout the wodcL Help us to offer the perfect and acceptable sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, in our daily Mass to the honor and glory of the holy and undivided Trinity, our most high God. Amea. 'lertain passages from the Scriptures stir my mind ~and my heart on this Monday, April 6, 1998, the Mass of Chrism -- the Mass of pries@ re-commitment. "Come follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men." "Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of hearL" "Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains a grain of wheal But ff it dies, it pro- duces much fruiL" "You, O Lord, must in- crease. I must decrease." These Scriptures have a bearing on me as I celebrate 50 years of priesthood. I truly believe that our Lord called me to be a priesL There was no long agoniz- ing struggle, "Should I or should I noL" When I left home, I did not surrender Bishop Andrew J. McDonald wealth, power or security. However, I did leave a loving mother and father, caring brothers and sisters. For my mother and father, a child leaving home was not a new experience -- seven of the 12 children had already found their vocauons -- four to reli- gious life and three to married life. My leaving was tender and touching not because I was like "Benjamin" or "David," favored children of the Old Testament. Rather, it was my age, my weight, my height: I was 13 years old. I weighed 90 pounds. I 5 feet 8 inches tall. Mama and Papa consulted our pastor, visited the bishop. I lived in the Cathedral parish. Then, dressed in a white shirt, dark trousers, blue tie, I had a formal visit with the bishop m Gerald P. O'Hara. The formality was awesome -- the meeting was not because I was a Cathedral altar boy -- accustomed to serving the bishop and the priests at Mass. In those 12 seminary years, the call grew stronger. Never did I want to turn back. Dedicated priests were my teachers. Dedicated priests were assigned the task of forming me in Christ --- to put on the Lord Jesus -- no easy task -- always a struggle to be meek and humble of heart --- always a struggle to die to serf--- always a struggle to decrease and let Jesus increase -- to let Jesus prevail in my life. Ordination took place on Saturday, May 8, 1948, in the Cathedral of SL John the Baptist in Savannah, Ga. I was overcome -- overwhelmed with the reality -- to stand at the altar for Mass, to absolve from sin, to preach the gospel, to visit the sick. I was humbled to hear the venerable, beautiful older people say, "Good morning, Father," "Bless me Father," "Pray for me Father." I turned around in disbelief. There was no one standing there but me. I thought my years as a priest would give me a chance to deepen my life of prayer -- that Jesus would fill me with His virtues of meekness and humility. Financial security was foreign to me. A change, however, came in September 1948 m three months after ordination. I was sent to the canon law graduate school -- Catholic Uni- versity in Washington for a year -- two years at the Lateran University in Rome Since that time, my struggle to be a faithful priest -- to be a priest after the meek and humble heart of Jesus has been a struggle with power, glory, security. From my earliest years of priesthood, I have been in positions of power -- chancellor, judicial vicar, dean, vicar general, pastor, bishop. High positions should in- crease my chances to serve. A traditional tide for the pope is "Servant of the Servants of God." High posi- tions should make me ready to wash feet as did Jesus -- should move me to die to self and to be in service to others. Many popes, bishops, priests in position of power have used their positions to bring Jesus to you, the people of God. For almost 26 years, I have been your bishop. I am the ultimate Church authority in this diocese. Not always have I exercised that authority, that power as Jesus would. Tonight, I bow my head in sorrow -- I seek forgiveness from you, my priests, for the times that I have abused this episcopal power. I bow before deacons, religious and you, the faithful of our diocese. Forgive me for my abuse of power. I did not know what I was doing. "Un- less the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit." "Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart," says the Lord, Jesus. / Father David LeSieur shakes hands with h~4,141.11,1,1;l+l,bl+l,l+l+l.l+l-l+Fl+~F{-" a family during the Sign of Peace at the Chrism Mass April 6. ? Father Bernard Keller, pastor of St. Peter Church Pine Bluff, and Father John Antony, assistant pastor of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, pray overt the sacred chrism used during the sacraments o initiation and holy orders. My priesthood has given me security. Both as a prie and as a bishop, I have never been hungry; I have nero been homeless; I have never been without the best health care. You have made the sacrifices. I have bee. living in an artificial, economic world. The safety net Is always there. I beg your forgiveness as I try to curb #Y desire for the things of this world m for failing to h the cry of the poor. Even now, there are many things that I want, but there is nothing that I need. "I nat# decrease and He must increase." My priesthood has given me moments of glory. I haVe stood in the brilliance of Mount Tabor -- the Lord revealing Himself to His aposdes. I have seen Jesus in the eyes of an innocent baby whe ever I pour the water and say the words, "I baptize you %1 I have felt the burden of sin lifted whenever I say, ; absolve you from your sins... Go your way and sin no I have felt like the radiant Moses coming down fr0 the mountain, whenever I stand at the altar, "This is MY Body; this is My Blood; as often as you do this, yot will do it in memory of me." I have felt like a savior whenever I enter a hospital room anointing the sick, praying for the dying, colV soling the bereaved. I have rejoiced whenever I witness the vows of yot ,e couples on their wedding day. I have rejoiced whena, I have celebrated the golden jubilee of wedding and golden jubilee of dedicated men and women in religi0 life and priesthood. This day my cup runneth over. I have been to the toE of the mountain. I have wi,,}nessed the glory of the L~i~ So, every day, I pray, Non mihi Domine, non sed nomini tuo -- da gloriam." "Not to me, O Lord, bu' to you give the glory." Jesus, meek and humble of he~r~ . O make my heart hke unto Thine I must decrease # He must increase." In a few months, perhaps in a year, I will be retired' Fortunately for me, because of your generosity, my nomic future will be secure. However no longer will~ struggle with power, with glory I will stru le only Wie' gg .. my efforts to be a priest after the heart of Christ thanks be to God. GOd, the Father, grant me time to live my priesthod as did your Son, Jesus powerless and poor.-e Lord Jesus, help me to want only what you will for i nothing more... nothing less... ...... notthing else, ,41" ...... ], m )t )1 )J Y X [ h, '0 II 'o, e~ e( til 7a )r Zl ;i g :r tl 11