A week and a half ago we as the diocese elected José McLoughlin as the 7th bishop of the Diocese of WNC. Elections are always filled with mixed emotions. The nominees have spent many months contemplating a new future and then only one person is chosen to incarnate it as the bishop. Of course, nothing is wasted, but there is an emotional toll for such a public event. I ask, therefore, that we as a diocese continue to hold Cyndi, Hannah and Thomas in our prayers and to give thanks for their willingness to participate in this process. All of them are and will be part of us.
When José is ordained October 1, he will be asked many questions but those attending will be asked two: “Is it your will that we ordain José as your bishop?” and “Will you uphold José as bishop?” These are crucial questions in this time in our context. At best our culture has an ambivalent relation to our leaders. In this election season we already are deluged with the negative ads about candidates. In addition, the trust given to our Congress and State Legislature is at a historical low. We like to believe that as the Church we are immune from these projections and perceptions, but of course we are part of the sea in which we swim.
To uphold José McLoughlin as the 7th Bishop is to remember what he is and is not ordained to do and to be aware that there are still only twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. To uphold him is to recall that he could be the bishop for many years and, therefore, if your favorite program/project doesn’t have his immediate attention now, cultivate patience and do the work given to you anyway. He will be here a long time. Most of all, to uphold him is to live out your baptismal vows with intention and prayer. The bishop is an important person in the Church but is only one person. The postcommunion prayer says, “Grant that we, with him, may serve you now and always rejoice in your glory” because the Church is the whole body.
I look forward to October 1 not because I am resigning but because José McLoughlin will bring new gifts to the diocese and because I have seen the collegiality of this diocese and know that you will do great things together.
José, Laurel, and their children, Alexander and Alyson, will move here at the end of the summer. He and I will have the month of September working together. Please welcome them and come to the Kimmel Arena at UNC-A at 11:00 on October 1 for the ordination.