“But I do now …” Words of Farewell to the Clergy, Religious, and People of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Evening Prayer, Wednesday January 14, 2015 (exactly four years to the day I was named to Indianapolis).
Thank you Father Riebbe and Archbishop Tobin for your kind and generous words and an additional, “thank you,” as well, Archbishop, for hosting this gathering for me. It is much appreciated.
It was almost four years ago that I came to Indiana to serve the Catholic community here. I had only been to this state once before, to visit a priest friend at Notre Dame. I knew only one priest of this Archdiocese, Jim Bonke, from having lived at the Casa Santa Maria in Rome during my graduate studies. I had no idea how many great priests, deacons, and religious are here. But I do now.
I had no idea that Indianapolis’ streets for the most part ran straight north and south, east and west, on a 10th of a mile block of grids but that any street could just disappear for a few blocks and just reappear like Meridian does down near Greenwood or like 11th or 17th or 22nd or any number of streets do. But I do now.
I had no idea that the city was so big, that to get from St. Simon’s or St. Luke’s in the north to St. Barnabas or St. Mark’s in the south could take 45 minutes without traffic. I had no idea that a green light in Indiana is more of a “suggestion” to get moving than a recommendation, that the use of the blinker while turning or changing lanes is considered optional in these parts, and that if it looks like the bumper is going to fall off of the car in front of you, it probably will. But I do now.
I had no idea what a pork cutlet sandwich was, that fried chicken was considered “health food” in these parts, that dinner with at least four starches was a necessary part of life, or what a fried biscuit with apple butter was. I had no idea how good fresh-picked Indiana corn was or how delicious Hoosier sugar cream pie is and that green beans cooked with bacon were mighty tasty. But I do now.
I had no idea how absolutely insane Colts fans are or how much you hate the New England Patriots. But I do now (I’ll say no more).
I had no idea how to get to Batesville or Tell City or Richmond or Brownstown or Jennings County or Jeffersonville. I had no idea that Milan is pronounced “Mylan,” VersailIes is pronounced “Versales” and that Vevay is pronounced “Veevee.” I had no idea what an Indy car race was really like, how cool and crazy and fun the NCYC is, what the heck went on at a “tractor pull” or how to “show a pig” at a county fair, or that Eucharistic Adoration at SS. Philomena and Cecilia in Oak Forest was accompanied by a three volley shotgun salute. But I do now.
I had no idea how healthy and faith-filled the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Indianpolis is, how many good works of faith and charity you do everyday, how you not only speak the Catholic faith but live it, and how much hope there is for the future of this Catholic community. But I do now. I do now because of all of you. Thank you.
Someone once said, “a farewell is necessary before we can meet again, and meeting again, after moments or a lifetime is certain for those who are friends.” I went looking for the author of this quote. I did all of the web searching and checking for attribution but it was not to be found. So my thanks to the nameless author for helping me capture what I wish to convey to all of you this evening – that while I am saying “farewell” to many of you, I hope it is a one that is soon met with “hello,” whether here again in Indiana or elsewhere. I am grateful for all of you – for all that you have done for me, all that you have meant to me, and all that I know you will continue to be for me. While the greatest of final glories is that of the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ, a quote from the poet William Butler Yeats captures for me the earthly joy of knowing you in his words, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”
God bless you all.