Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blistering Cold Weather But Warm and Friendly Bishop

Diocese of Juneau, Alaska

Although the temperature will often be frigid and bone-chilling, the zeal and enthusiasm of the faith will perennially be as hot as sun with the recent (March 4th) ordination & consecration of Msgr. Edward Burns as the Bishop of Juneau, Alaska. His disarming smile is only matched by his sense of humor and his genuine commitment to complete and unabashed hospitality. "Pittsburgh's loss is Juneau's gain" said Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh (one of the co-consecrators).

I met His Excellency several years ago at the Fall meeting of the USCCB when he was executive director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Accompanied by our mutual friend and his seminary classmate (and roomate) from Mount Saint Mary's, Emmitsburg, MD, Father Dennis Dalessandro, I attended the Mass at Saint Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh. Several of Bishop Burn's classmates from the Dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown, Arlington and Altoona-Johnstown were guests of honor and had an enormously fun time going down memory lane. Even the Apostolic Nuncio could not resist the temptation and kidded with the Bishop-Elect at the luncheon just hours before the ordination when he remarked that Pittsburgh was ten degrees COLDER than Juneau that very same day. And brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrh, was he right. Despite the bone-chilling cold wind, 300 priests concelebrated the Mass along with a couple dozen bishops and at least a thousand or more laity and religious. Father Dalessandro and I could not help but notice the overt friendliness we encountered throughout the Pittsburgh area, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Everyone went out of their way to be polite, courteous and friendly, just like Bishop Burns (who is the plethora of niceness). I thought I was back in Alabama visiting EWTN, also known for his hospitality. Usually in the northeast, you get a much COLDER response from the locals when you visit a place. Yet, in Steeler-Pirate-Penguin country (a.k.a. Pittsburgh), visitors are treated as royalty.

Mount Saint Mary Seminary can be proud that a multitude of alumni have become successors of the Apostles. My own bishop, Most Rev. Kevin Rhoades, was former rector. Bishop Burns is the most recent. Likely, more will come due to the orthodoxy and piety of this excellent place of priestly formation.

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