For those of you who have read this blog with any regularity, you will know that I have been greatly influenced by Milwaukee's new Bishop-elect Fr. Don Hying and many of my posts have been peppered with "Fr. Don did this" or "Fr. Don said that."
For the past three years I have spent countless hours sitting with him in his office, pouring out my troubles and spiritual difficulties and that poor man would kindly listen and support me through it all, often times fighting to keep his eyes open not because I am so incredibly boring (which I am) but because he works so tremendously hard and is frequently exhausted. Sometimes a lakeside walk was the perfect antidote to tiresome office visits. We've enjoyed many walks along the beautiful Milwaukee lakefront directly across from the Seminary both in pleasant and blustery weather.
Recognizing that I am more comfortable expressing myself in the written word than in face-to-face discussions, he made me promise to write to him whenever I had the need to just "get something out" and I've often thought that he must have been sorry that he did that as my emails to him were more than frequent, yet he never complained and took the time to answer many of them, always in the same loving, supportive and encouraging manner. When I would apologize for being excessive in the amount of emails I would send to him, he would thank me for being excessive.
He is a good, kind, honest, decent and holy man, a perfect choice for Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
So, today, I join in Conversion Diary's Seven Quick Takes, and share seven wonderful things about Bishop-elect Donald J. Hying.
1. His humility is exemplary as his words about his appointment show:
“This episcopal appointment is less about the personality of the one chosen, as it is about the office,” Bishop-elect Hying said. “Throughout the history of the Church and until the end of time, the Lord chooses earthen vessels, unworthy instruments, to serve him and mediate the mystery of his salvation and mercy. As the saying goes, "God does not always call the most qualified, but he qualifies those he has called.‟ I am both deeply humbled and honored to be appointed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.” Bishop-elect Donald Hying
2. Many people find him to be a beautiful soul as these words from a commenter on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online story about Fr. Don display:
"Not being a Catholic, but coming into contact with Fr. Don about six years ago, a serendipitous moment occurred. Both my wife and I were struck with someone who displayed a sensitive, caring, and benevolent persona that went far beyond anything called religion. Fr. Don's spirit is something that resembles fine poetry, a wonderful wine's bouquet, coupled with the most beautiful prose ever written. I do believe the Catholic church got it right this time." comment by: dreduardoa
3. He's hard-working and loving:
When my family and I had invited Fr. Don to our house for the first time a few years ago, we enjoyed dinner together and then he rolled up his sleeves and said, "Now, I'm going to wash the dishes!" And he did, despite our protests! I wrote about it in this post-Kenotic Love. In talking to others about how floored I was that he would wash the dishes at my house, I've learned that for Fr. Don, this is a common practice while visiting for dinner, and if you don't let him wash the dishes, then he'll offer to mow your lawn!
My daughter and I took our first-ever mother/daughter weekend retreat last April, and Fr. Don joined us at our hermitage for a game of scrabble (he easily won-of course, I blame the letters-what can you do with all vowels?) a visit to the nearby convent adoration chapel and a walk to the seminary grotto where the three of us worked to clean up winter storm damage to the trees. Who else could combine play, prayer and work and create a beautiful memory all at the same time?
4. He's deeply prayerful:
I was moved beyond words when I witnessed a scene that I will cherish all my life. My daughter and I were visiting Seminary Woods a few years ago and walked to the grotto to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Suddenly, Mary gasped and began running towards the grotto. Who do you think we found there in solitary prayer? You can read about it here: Grotto
5. He's a generous and fabulous host:
This last Easter, Fr. Don invited my family and I to join him for Mass at the breathtaking St. Joseph's Chapel inside the School Sisters of St. Francis Convent, followed by breakfast at his Seminary suite. Not many people would take on the task of serving a family of seven following Mass, but for Fr. Don, it was an exciting and wonderful adventure. Breakfast was delicious and his home is gorgeous! He even surprised Mary and I with gifts of roses! My family and I will treasure the memory of that very special Easter forever.
6. He's innovative:
As Rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary, Fr. Don initiated Seminary Sunday where he travels throughout the Archdiocese preaching at weekend Masses in a successful effort to promote the Seminary. And just this last April for the Seminary's Open House, he took a group of seminarians to the bars on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee to invite people to attend the Open House. It was clearly successful as the Seminary was packed for the open house. His most recent innovation, together with Lydia LoCoco, was creating the de Chantal Society at the seminary, in an effort to garner the support of the women of the Archdiocese and to offer them a quiet place of prayer in return.
7. He says "yes" to everything:
Everyone knows that an effective Seminary Rector has very little time to himself. Fr. Don gives his time away so generously, relentlessly exhausting himself in service of the Lord and the people of the Church. Not only has he been wonderful about spending time with me for spiritual direction and reading my emails, but he does the same for many other people. He works as the Spiritual Director for Roses for Our Lady, and invited me to be the new president this year, he offers spiritual direction for the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he has preached at countless Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort Conferences, and travels extensively on religious pilgrimages, most recently taking the entire Seminary with him to the Holy Land.
When I asked him to share his gospel reflections and stories on this blog, he said yes to that as well. Matt at Badger Catholic has kindly put a link on his blog that contains all of the stories either about or written by Fr. Don. If you'd like to find them all in one convenient spot, this would be the place.
Milwaukee is blessed beyond belief with Fr. Don Hying taking on the role of Bishop. I am blessed beyond belief with the friendship of a holy soul who easily leads many people to follow in his footsteps to holiness.
Last weekend at Fr. Kevin McManaman's First Mass of Thanksgiving following ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Nathan Reeseman preached a fabulous homily. What stood out to me were the following words to Fr. Kevin:
"People just want to love their priest, and they want their priest to love them in return."
Fr. Don understands this very well. He is deeply loved by countless people and he makes it clear that he loves us in return.
Congratulations Bishop-elect Hying!!!! God be with you in all that you do!
(picture source: St. Francis de Sales Seminary facebook page)