February 25, 2011

Our New Auxiliary Bishop

New auxiliary bishop uses blog as a means of communication

Jay Fadden, left, the executive vice president and general manager of the Boston-based CatholicTV, speaks with then-Father Christopher J. Coyne during a telethon for the network. Father Coyne, who hosted shows on the network, has broadened his communication outlets in recent years by writing a blog. (Submitted photo)

Jay Fadden, left, the executive vice president and general manager of the Boston-based CatholicTV, speaks with then-Father Christopher J. Coyne during a telethon for the network. Father Coyne, who hosted shows on the network, has broadened his communication outlets in recent years by writing a blog. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Sometimes he uses a touch of humor to talk about life.

Other times, he shares a perspective on family and faith.

Then there are the times he offers his views on the Church.

In an effort to connect with Catholics in a different way, Bishop-designate Christopher J. Coyne has been writing blog posts once a week for several years.

Since being appointed as the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, he has renamed his blog, calling it, “Let Us Walk Together: Thoughts of a Catholic Bishop.” It can be found at www.thoughtsofacatholicbishop.blogspot.com.

Here are excerpts from some of his past blog entries.

Rites of Family, Rites of Faith (Jan. 29, 2010)

In this post, Bishop-designate Coyne reflected upon the first funeral homily that he ever preached—for his grandmother, who died on Holy Thursday morning in 1986.

“You can well imagine how different the celebration of the Easter Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday was for my family and me that year. The images of death and resurrection, the empty tomb, the light of the Easter Candle, all had a particular immediacy for us.

“While we gathered for Easter Sunday, it wasn’t the happy occasion that it had been in the past. One thing we did do, though, was we told stories of grandma and grandpa, and all the times we had been together as a family, and all the meals that we had shared, and all the holidays that we had celebrated, and all the stupid, funny things we had done—talking about all of the stuff that made us who we are as a family.

“We shared a meal and watched the youngest [children] hunt for Easter eggs, and washed the dishes and cleaned up and headed home, knowing we would gather the next day at the funeral home to begin the task of laying our grandmother to rest. Even in the midst of death, life went on, sustained by ritual.

“We gathered, we remembered, and we shared a meal, something we had done so many times in the past and have done many times since, but each time a bit differently. Sounds an awful lot like Mass, doesn’t it? Remembering, sharing, praying, feeding.

“Whether it’s the Eucharist or a family meal, circumstances change, situations are different, people enter and depart our lives, new generations begin as older generations fade, but still the rituals of family and faith perdure, shaping and giving meaning to our lives.”

Thou shall … Thou shall not … ” (March 4, 2010)

Bishop-designate Coyne will occasionally use humor in his blog and his homilies when it also serves the purpose of drawing people closer to God and deeper into their faith.

In this post, he started with the observation that the gym where he works out has a number of signs that politely and clearly remind people of what they should and shouldn’t do as they exercise. Figuring there should be similar rules for people in church, he offered his own set of standards, including these samples:

• “Thou shall always make an effort to say ‘hello’ and to welcome everyone. Everyone includes Yankees, Jets, Canadiens or Lakers fans as well as your mean

third-grade teacher from years ago now retired and sitting alongside you at Mass.”

• “Thou shall not read the parish bulletin during any part of the Mass [including the homily!] nor use the bulletin to make paper airplanes, origami or confetti while inside the church.”

• “Thou shall not leave Mass while still chewing the Host. [In other words, can you stay until the end? What is so important that you must leave early? Does the Lord run out on you?]”

• “Unless you’re a doctor, nurse, EMT, police officer, firefighter, first-responder or someone on-call, thou shall turn off pagers, Blackberries, iPhones, cell phones, laptops, iPods, mp3 players, Game Boys, and any other electronic device before Mass. We have many elderly with pacemakers in our

congregation. It is good to minimize electronic interference for the sake of their hearts.”

Catholic Identity and the New Evangelization (Jan. 25, 2011)

“Through the late 19th and then into the majority of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the United States had seen a huge growth in its numbers and political power. As time went on, we came to believe that this would continue without doing anything other than [what] we had in the past. … The Church would provide the sacraments and religious schools and education, and people would keep coming. Clearly, this did not happen.

“We failed to recognize and respond to major shifts in our culture: secularization, the sexual revolution, the liberalization of public education, the increased affluence and education of Catholics, the movement of Catholics from city parishes to the suburbs, and the major upheaval within the Church as a result of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Now we are left with a Church whose numbers are in decline … .

“But we are also left with a Church that is the Church of the Body of Christ, founded on the Apostles, endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Church in which we believe is a beacon of salvation and hope to a world that has become more and more secularized, divided, lonely and lost. I think we need to pick up the challenge of the new

evangelization, to evangelize ourselves so that we may grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ to spread the Good News to others … .

“I see many reasons for hope that we can turn this decline in the United States around: the good faith of the people and families that are still in our churches, the many young people who are actively working on our college campuses doing the work of the ‘new evangelization’ right now, the powerful witness of the social works of the Church in our hospitals, homeless shelters, food pantries and St. Vincent de Paul Societies … .

“I also take great solace in the words of Jesus Himself, ‘and behold, I am with you always until the end of time’ [Mt 28:20]. That promise itself gives us more than enough hope to keep spreading the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord to God’s praise and glory forever and ever.” †

Local site Links: