My First Year as a Bishop

Today I celebrate the one year anniversary of my ordination to the episcopacy. I am not dabbling in hyperbole when I say it feels like three years. It is amazing to me to recall all that has happened this year …

Receiving the call from the papal nuncio, Archbishop Sambi, in late December telling me that the Holy Father has called me to be a bishop and wants me to go serve as an auxiliary in Indianapolis. When I asked him why the Pope was sending “a son of Boston to Indianapolis,” his reply was, “the Church does what the Church does. *** Arriving in Indianapolis in mid January to the press conference announcing my appointment and being so warmly received by Archbishop Buechlein and those gathered at St. John the Evangelist Church, downtown *** Encountering the “Cult of the Colts” for the first time *** Arriving back in my parish in Westwood the next weekend and without saying a word, receiving a standing ovation as I came out to speak after Communion *** Having to learn things like how to choose a motto, an episcopal shield, what vestments I needed to buy and where, when I was supposed to where what vestment and how I was to wear it, moving from “tab shirts” to the Roman collar *** Packing and unpacking *** Saying “goodbye” to New England and “hello” to Central and Southern Indiana *** How many of my relatives, friends, and brother priests came out from Boston on such short notice *** The absolutely perfect and generous manner in which Archbishop Buechlein and the archdiocese hosted my family and guests *** The pre-Ordination lunch at Crown Plaza Hotel *** Hugging my Mother at the start of the ordination *** Missing my Dad *** My three sisters in the front row *** Taking too much cold medication before the ordination and then wondering if I was going to be able to get up from the “prostration” without falling over *** Being ordained by the laying on of hands by Archbishop Buechlein and Bishops Lennon and Etienne *** Being told after going through the congregation after Communion for the “Rite of Blessing and the Hymn of Thanksgiving” that I had my crozier facing the wrong way (the first, but not even close to the last time I have been corrected by an MC) *** Being called “Your Excellency” for the first time *** Learning to drive in Indiana (no horn) *** My first Confirmation at which I was so nervous to do it right I had the book absolutely in front of me the whole time *** Hearing the sad news that Archbishop Buechlein had suffered a stroke *** Going out to all the parishes and deaneries around the archdiocese and meeting all the great priests, deacons, religious, and lay folk *** Learning how to use FaceBook and Twitter *** Dedicating the new wing at St. Francis Hospital *** Presiding at the Rite of Election and Welcoming of Candidates at the Cathedral *** Ordaining Jerry Byrd at St. Meinrad’s Abbey to the transitional diaconate *** Celebrating the Easter Triduum and Easter Sunday as a bishop *** Going back to Westwood MA to preside at Confirmation *** Giving the invocation in front of over 200,000 people at the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indy 500 *** Eating my first Hoosier church meal containing fried chicken, fried biscuits (with apple butter), regular biscuits, canned green beans with ham, and four starches: mashed potatoes, chicken and noodles, corn off the cob, sweet potatoes, and lots of iced tea *** Eating my first pork cutlet sandwich at the Elbow Room restaurant in Indy *** Eating my first deep-fried twinkie at the Jennings County Fair *** Blessing the “Catholic” cows at the Jennings County Fair *** Ordaining Dustin Boehm to the priesthood *** Suffering along with everyone else 17 straight days of 100 degree plus weather in late June and early July *** Giving out bottles of water late at night to the homeless people sleeping outside of St. John’s church downtown in the heat *** Presiding at the funerals of Fathers Joe Kern, Don Quinn, and Jim Arneson *** Burying my sister-in-law Jeanine ***Seeing all the good work we do at places like the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, St. Elizabeth’s Shelter for pregnant women and children, the new shelter for homeless women and children in Bedford, and the like *** Attending meetings (lots of meetings) and meals to promote the Christ our Hope Campaign *** Attending “Bishops’ School” in Rome and meeting the Pope for the first time *** Being appointed Apostolic Administrator when Archbishop Buechlein retired *** Presiding and preaching in front of 26,000 young people and adults at the National Catholic Youth Conference *** Posting my first video podcasts *** Celebrating Christmas Midnight Mass in the cathedral *** Fun moment: going to the Super Bowl *** Not-so-fun moment: going to the Super Bowl *** Attending my first “ad limina” visit to the Holy See *** Having a private audience with Pope Benedict *** Celebrating my one year anniversary at the Catholic Center last night *** God is good.



4 Comments. Leave new

As a native son of Massachusetts, you have made us all very proud! I knew God would bless you with His Grace. All who suffer for Him will be greatly rewarded. You still have a lot of parishioners rooting for you at Our Lady’s and none more than this one!


Thank you for these personal reflections, Bishop Chris. The people of Indiana are lucky to have you as their leader. From the smile on your face at your one-year celebration, it is clear the Lord put you where you were meant to be. Thanks, too, for the tweets and blog that keep us connected, whether close or far, and for your insight into many topics. We continue to pray for you and for those affected by last week’s tornadoes, too.

The standing O at St. Margaret Mary’s was truly memorable. Fr. Jack Rathschmidt had said a beautiful Mass, as he always does. We were wondering whether you would be there and had given up hope. Then you walked out.

Quite the year, indeed.


God is indeed, very good!

Thank you Bishop Coyne, for coming to Indiana and spending this year with us. Instead of trying fried twinkies at the fair this year, I hope you will think about trying the elephant ears. Elephant ears are a traditional Hoosier fair food. I would suggest staying away from the fried snickers candy bars though! Leave that to the younger folks.

I hope you have a chance to attend a county fair or a hog roast this summer. That is a true Hoosier experience too.

May God bless you and keep you always in His care.