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Announcement of new bishop isn’t surprising

The announcement last week of Msgr. Joseph Hanefeldt’s appointment as the next bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island might have surprised his mother (see story Page 28), but not many of those who know him.

Not that anyone knew he would be named to lead that particular diocese, but most probably believed he would someday be named a bishop of some diocese somewhere.

After all, he had that bishop-like resume – strong parish experience (including schools), seminary work and positions in Rome; plus he had caught the eye of the church hierarchy. Bishop-designate Hanefeldt apparently caught the eye of God, too, which led to his appointment by Pope Francis.

The bishop-designate has another quality and grace – his people, pastoral skills – that had to be a factor in his selection. He has the ability to connect with people, to impact their lives in many ways – sometimes in a very profound sense, sometimes more subtle.

I’m among those where the impact was more on the subtle side. I met him through parish/school business when I was on the parish council at St. James and he was pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, two northwest Omaha parishes that share St. James/Seton School.

My wife and I attended daily Mass at his parish for several years and enjoyed the benefits of his homilies and observed his presence with the people of his parish.

Then, when I entered diaconate formation, Bishop-designate Hanefeldt – he was Father Joe back then – affirmed me in my discernment, offering opportunities to serve at Mass and be a lector, never demanding my participation, but always opening the door.

Opening the door to opportunity, opening the door to a listening ear, opening the door to a deeper faith. That’s how Bishop-designate Hanefeldt touched the lives of so many parishioners and others. We can pray that special gift helps shape his ministry as a bishop.

Some might suggest people are drawn to him because of his pastoral skills – his simple and straightforward approach. They might even say he’s just an "ordinary Joe."

Well, come March 19, that couldn’t be more true. That’s the day he’ll officially be an ordinary Joe … the ordinary – the bishop – of the Grand Island Diocese – Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt.

Congratulations are in order, and – I’m sure – many prayers will be offered.

 

CELEBRATING FAITH

The last week of January puts a special emphasis on Catholic education with the annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

It’s a time for a variety of events and activities to highlight the importance and value of Catholic education. It’s a time for students, teachers, administrators and staff to bring a special focus to the gift they share and for parents, family members and Catholics in general to reflect on the benefits of Catholic education.

And, in the midst of all the numbers and statistics often used to tout Catholic education, Catholic Schools Week provides a reminder that faith remains the foundation, the heart and the fundamental difference.

Catholic Schools Week celebrates Catholic education, and in that celebration, our faith.

 

NO TAKERS YET

In this month of pro-life events – the march in Washington, D.C., the walk in Lincoln and many others – it’s somewhat surprising no one has responded to my Jan. 9 Catholic Voice "What If" column.

I had raised several "what if" questions regarding a dramatic pro-life television public service announcement, including someone to underwrite the production and development costs.

What if? I’ll wait for the call.

 

Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at ragrosse@archomaha.org.

 

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