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Shepherds Who Feed Their Flock

By Judie Brown

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ staff member Donna Toliver Grimes, associate director of African American affairs in the US bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, recently told the media that she is “elated” over Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate. That is the bad news.

The good news is that there are many Catholic bishops, not USCCB hired hands, who are doing all they can to witness to Christ and His truth, leading the way toward truth and love. 

On the feast of the Assumption of Mary in Madison, Wisconsin, this past weekendmore than 2,000 people joined Bishop Donald J. Hying and Milwaukee’s archbishop, Jerome Listecki, in a Eucharistic procession. Their goal was a simple one: “To bring Jesus to one of the most troubled spots in America.”

Just a few days earlier, Catholic bishops from Wichita, Kansas, and Denver, Colorado,

“called for rosary crusades in their respective dioceses in the month of August, asking Catholics to pray daily rosaries for the end of the pandemic, for justice and peace, for an end to the desecration of churches, and for multiple other intentions.”

Denver’s archbishop, Samuel Aquila, wrote:

“In our current time of crisis, our Church, world and our country need faith in God and the protection and intercession of Mary.” The archbishop has been actively involved in bringing sense to the violence. When the statue of St. Jude was beheaded by angry protesters in Denver, the archbishop prayed for their conversion. 

Similarly, though without the desecration, thank God, Wichita’s bishop, Carl Kemme, wrote to his flock:

“It has been said that we live in unprecedented times. But do we really? After all, any amateur student of history and especially Church history can attest that Holy Mother Church has already experienced everything we are living through and even far worse, things like plagues and pandemics, persecutions of Christians, violent attacks against persons for reason of color or other discriminatory traits, the shameless desecration of churches and statues and acts that cause scandal, even by those who are called to serve as leaders of the faith.”

Rosary crusades and Eucharistic processions give Catholic people hope and consolation during these troubled times, not to mention affirmation that, for many, their bishops stand strong in their role as shepherds and guides.

And they are not the only ones teaching and preaching truth. Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey, called on his faithful to be vigilant when confronting the rising tide in support of assisted suicide, saying: 

“We cannot be complacent and just accept that physician-assisted suicide is the law now in our state. . . . When any human life, especially the weakest, is devalued by society it promotes a devaluing of all human life.”

Thomas Tobin, bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, reminded his people—and all of us—that Joe Biden is not truly Catholic when he said on Twitter: “Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.”

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Bishop Donald E. DeGrood is calling Catholics back to Mass with strict guidelines and some exceptions, writing:

“As shepherd and spiritual father, my desire is that all souls are happy, healthy and holy in mind, body and spirit. I will continue to pray, review the data, monitor the status of COVID-19, especially in eastern South Dakota, and make adjustments if warranted in the weeks and months ahead.”

These bishops and other princes of the Church, like Bishops Joseph E. Strickland and Thomas John Paprocki, teach us that renewal of hope and joy reflect the truth that the future of the Church and our nation are in good hands—the hands of God.

Finally, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano was focused on such inspiring bishops when he wrote: 

I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. . . . Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.

Let us pray for every shepherd to heed these words and be shepherds who feed their flock.