On my way back to my room from the library, I ran across Bishop Kelly coming home from the front doors. Slightly surprised, I offered an “Oh, Howdy Bishop” and came straight here to reflect on another of the unique circumstances of living in a Seminary.
When I moved into the Seminary last year, Bishop Kelly was simply Monsignor Kelly. He served as the vicar for clergy for the diocese of Dallas (kinda like a personnel manager for all the priests) and lived at the seminary so he could stay close to the future priests. He is an alum of HTS, previously served as the campus chaplain at UD, and recently completed a short stint as interim rector of the seminary. He celebrated Mass every few weeks and always gave the best homilies. I’d sit with him at meals and talk about formation, classes, sports, or local news, and ran into him every morning at the newspaper table.
Over Christmas break, we heard that Msgr Kelly had been appointed Auxilary Bishop of Dallas by Pope Francis, and in February we attended his ordination. Before his ordination, he gave a homily at the seminary in which he described his emotions immediately after receiving the appointment phone call. He described a few days in which he couldn’t believe what was being asked of him but ultimately found consolation in the belief that the same Christ who had sustained him in priestly ministry would continue to sustain him in Episcopal ministry (specifically quoting psalm 55). Choking back tears he said:
“I never wanted this… but if the Holy Father desires it I will say ‘yes’. I will accept it as the path to holiness God has chosen for me.”
Now, I live in the same building as a Bishop in charge of the souls of the ~1 million Catholics in the Diocese of Dallas. In fact, he lives about 30 feet down the hall from me. It’s not unusual to sit down in the chapel for prayer at night and find him sitting in the pew right behind me, or, like tonight, run into him at night when he returns from a day of Bishop-ing. Every time we cross paths he greets me with a smile and a kind word. I’ve never seen him angry. He loves people. What did he do on Easter Sunday? Celebrate mass at a hospital because the Chaplain was out ill.
In a semester that has been marked by my realization of the difficulty of ecclesial obedience and an ongoing struggle to trust that the men in charge of the Church really are guided by the Holy Spirit, Bishop Kelly is a constant source of consolation. Praise God, and please pray, for the holy shepherds he provides.
School Update: I just finished my last paper of the semester (epistemology – 5 pages on how the systems of Descartes and Hume both end in skepticism of the external world). It’s nice to be finished after a three week stretch during which I completed four papers totaling about 30 pages of writing. I wrote more in this past month than in my entire undergrad. Thanks UD.
Update 3/15/17 – Here’s a more recent reflection on another Bishop who made a huge impact on me. – Priest, Bishop, Father