Last week, I had the joy and privilege of ordaining and installing the new Bishop of Wilmington, Bishop William Edward Koenig. Bishop Koenig succeeds Bishop Malooly, a native son of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who ably led the Diocese of Wilmington for the past thirteen years. All those gathered in St. Elizabeth Church last Tuesday thanked Bishop Malooly with thunderous applause and with a standing ovation. At the same time, they welcomed their new shepherd with great joy and enthusiasm as he pledged to serve them to the best of his ability and in the fullness of God’s grace.
How many times a day are we anxious and upset? I certainly feel that way, for example, when I’m facing a difficult decision or when I’m concerned about the health of a priest or a co-worker. Almost no one, including all of us, is exempt from worry and anxiety, and while there are many things to worry about, health has risen to the top of the list, especially since the onset of the pandemic. Understandably, many of us worried and continue to worry about our families’ health.
It is a joy and privilege for me to preside at this Holy Mass at the end of which the Worthy Supreme Knight will be installed together with the new Supreme Officers, Directors, and State Deputies. These historic installations take place on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the parish church where Blessed Michael McGivney labored so faithfully, and where, in 1882, he founded the Knights of Columbus. Moreover, these installations also take place during the Year of St. Joseph to whom our recently elected Supreme Knight has dedicated his new administration.
In April 1970, Msgr. George D. Mulcahy, then the Rector of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, wrote a memorandum for the file of seminarian Joseph L. Luca. It said in part and I quote: “Joseph has been an excellent seminarian and an excellent student. He presents a good appearance and has a friendly personality with a joyous sense of humor. He entered fully into the life of our community and accepted positions of leadership. He was Prefect of the Seminary, the highest position of student honor and responsibility here. He was class president, chairman of the Student Council Constitution Committee, and chairman of the Deacon Program.” Msgr. Mulcahy added, “This young man has a clear vision of the priesthood and priestly work… There is every reason to expect an effective priestly ministry from this maturely Christian young man.” I think we can agree that Msgr. Mulcahy was right on target!
In 1803, Bishop John Carroll surveyed his diocese, the Diocese of Baltimore, stretching from Canada to Florida and westward to the Mississippi River. It was a vast new diocese in a vast new country, a republic founded on the proposition that all persons are created equal, and endowed by the Creator with fundamental freedoms, among them, freedom of religion –freedoms for which, over time, many would give their lives to defend. John Carroll knew that his new diocese would need a spiritual center, a cathedral, and so he invited his people to contribute what they could to its design and construction. Specifically, he asked parishioners in his far-flung diocese to contribute one dollar annually, each December for four consecutive years, and moreover, like a good American, he also instituted a lottery to help pay for this edifice.
I am happy to return to St. Mary’s Parish, albeit belatedly, on this occasion to celebrate with all of you the Solemnity of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in this joyful setting, to celebrate with you the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of your good pastor, Father Henry Kunkel. As most of you know, this celebration was to take place last year but, as with so many things during the pandemic, it had to be delayed. How good it is to be together in person, with many fewer restrictions, to celebrate this wonderful feast of Pentecost and the life of this wonderful priest.
Just as we observe forty days of Lent, so too we observe forty days of Easter so as to mark the time between the Lord’s Resurrection and his Ascension into heaven. During these days, now coming to end, the Church’s liturgy portrays for us the progress of the Apostles from confusion and unbelief towards a joyous faith in the Risen Lord. For, as we recall, the Apostles were devastated by the Lord’s Suffering and Death, and at first they hesitated to accept his Resurrection, as if it were too good to be true. For example, when told that the Risen Lord had appeared to the other Apostles, Thomas declared that he wouldn’t believe it until he physically touched the wounds in the Lord’s body. When, on another occasion, the Apostles caught sight of the Risen Lord on the seashore, not one of them dared to ask who it was, for deep down, they knew it was the Lord. In sum, the Risen Lord’s appearances left the Apostles ‘half overjoyed and half fearful.’
I am delighted to return to Our Lady of Victory for the installation of Father Bill Keown as your pastor. During this past year, dear friends, you have witnessed his priestly dedication, his enthusiasm for the mission, his vision, and his energy. In officially installing Father Keown, I join you in expressing gratitude for his service, and confidence in his leadership of Our Lady of Victory Parish in the years ahead.
First, let me say that I am delighted to return to St. Joseph Monastery to offer Mass with you and for you in this very beautiful setting. I am always happy as well for an opportunity to join with you in affirming the energetic and devoted leadership of Father Mike – thank you so much for your priestly dedication! I also greet Fr. Evan Ponton and parishioners from St. John’s in Severna Park, the sister-parish of St. Joseph’s Monastery, and I also greet Fr. James Proffitt, formerly the Pastor of St. John’s, and now Director of Clergy Personnel.
Thank you very much, Msgr. Woy and Fr. Ewing. I am happy to confirm the candidates from this Cathedral Parish whom you just presented and to whose preparedness you have testified. Let me now offer a word of encouragement to you, our confirmation candidates, and then a word of encouragement to your sponsors and parents.