Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Love Never Fails
(Photo credit: Rick Wood, JS Online)
It was the most beautiful experience of my life and I will never be the same for having been present at the ordination of Fr. Don Hying to the episcopacy, and really, I have never been the same since God blessed my life with the friendship of this holy man four years ago. I just couldn't believe that Fr. Don had actually invited my husband and I, such ordinary nobodies, to his Ordination Mass, a ticketed event to which he was only allowed to invite 120 people of his own choosing. On this extraordinary day, Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, ninety-five degree heat with humidity could not keep eighteen bishops and 900 priests, religious and lay faithful from attending the Ordination Mass for Bishop Donald Joseph Hying. To see my holy friend enter the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee as a humble and beloved priest and in that place become transformed into a revered bishop is an honor that I will never forget!
The Ordination Mass was absolutely gorgeous and being there was the most memorable gift I have ever been given. Throughout the two hour Mass, I was overcome by my emotions and was wiping away tears of joy again and again, and looking around at the faces of the others at Mass, I could see that I was not the only one smiling through the tears. But the most beautiful smile of all was the one that was on the face of Bishop Hying as he joyfully accepted his new role in the Church.
(Photo credit: Rick Wood, JS Online)
I will forever cherish the sight and sounds of Bishop Hying lying prostrate before the altar as the entire church chanted the Litany of the Saints. His microphone was turned on and his breathing could be heard over the voices of the choir and congregation. The loud rhythm of what seemed to be his breath moving in and out of his lungs sounded like the thumping of a heartbeat and I couldn't help but think that it must have been the very heartbeat of God that I was hearing united with that of a man who is so very in love with God and His Church. I was keenly aware of God's presence at that moment and knew that He is deeply in love with Bishop Hying and is overjoyed with his appointment to the episcopacy, after all, it was His will that brought this to fruition.
I was deeply moved to see Bishop Hying kneeling before Archbishop Listecki while two deacons stood beside him holding the book of the Gospels over his head, to see Archbishop Listecki pour the Oil of Chrism into his hair and finally to see the Archbishop crown him with his golden mitre. At that moment, I looked over to my husband and saw him just grinning with joy and in fact, everyone in church was grinning at the sight of our beautiful new bishop in his mitre with his crozier and his ring, which had been a gift to him from Archbishop Dolan.
That ring, which I had the great honor to kiss at the reception following Mass, was an image of the crucifix with Mary and St. John standing at the foot of the cross. To think that the simple and wonderful act of kissing Bishop Hying's ring could have the power to shave some time off from the purgation that will be my due after death just astounds me! How I love being Catholic!
At the end of the day as dusk was falling and Paul and I were leaving the celebratory dinner at the seminary, the darkness was punctuated by the flickering of thousands of fireflies dancing in joyous celebration along the seminary's tree lined drive and in the surrounding fields. Even nature rejoices at the glories of God and his love for us, especially on this day when His love was shown in the lifting up of a kind and holy soul to the position of Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
For his episcopal motto, Bishop Hying chose "Love Never Fails" and I know that God's unfailing love is clearly evident in the life of Bishop Hying. I join in with the voices of exultation in the Archdiocese, the voices in human form, heavenly form, and those of the elements of nature, in praising God for this precious gift of the loving friendship, and what is sure to be the inspired leadership, of Bishop Donald Joseph Hying.