Cleansing Fire

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Bishop Matano’s Words Lift Up Our Hearts and Minds to GOD [2013-11-06 Press Conf FULL TEXT]

January 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Recently our family engaged in an interesting conversation. It was said that sometimes priests disappoint us or sometimes priests do not exhort us to believe and live what the Church teaches so we end up allowing our frustrations to affect adversely our relationship with the Lord Jesus and the Church. The conclusion of our conversation, however, can be summed up in that each of us has a serious responsibility to obey God, to do God’s will, to confess our sinful failings accepting God’s forgiveness and always to go to Mass each and every Sunday.

Now is a time for rejoicing. We have Bishop Matano. Now is the time to hear him speak, to reflect on his words and to be very encouraged because of his faith in the Son of God our Savior and because of his willingness to help us become the holy children of God who are united to Jesus Christ and each other through the Eucharist, committed to do God’s holy will.

This reality in which we find ourselves is a wonderful opportunity for “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Therefore, enjoy more of what our beloved Bishop Matano already has said and look forward to more good to come so that each of us are inspired to live and proclaim the Catholic Faith. To go along with my transcription of the Bishop’s installation homily, I have also transcribed his introductory press conference. The full text is available as a Word doc (here) and is also included below in this post.


BISHOP SALVATORE R. MATANO INTRODUCED AS NINTH BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
A PRESS CONFERENCE WAS HELD NOVEMBER 6, 2013 TO INTRODUCE BISHOP MATANO
as transcribed by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Bishop Cunningham: Good morning. It is wonderful being here with you today and we certainly appreciate the press being here and helping us tell the story. For the past 14 months we all have been waiting and praying for a worthy successor to Bishop Clark. Masses have been celebrated in our Churches and it has been foremost in our mind the announcement of a new bishop. This morning the Vatican news site which I am sure many of you have already checked, made the announcement that the new bishop, the ninth bishop of Rochester, is the Most Reverend Salvatore Matano who has served as the Bishop of Burlington up to now. Prior to that he was ordained a priest in 1971, he was ordained a bishop in 2005, he has served in chancery administration and priest personnel and a vicar general of the diocese and also has served at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington on two different occasions. He has been a pastor of parishes and is certainly experienced in every aspect of diocesan and parish life. In 2005 he was named co-adjutor Bishop of Burlington and he was ordained a bishop on the very day that Pope Benedict was elected pope. The first time, I was at his ordination as a bishop and the first time that I heard Benedict’s name during the Eucharistic prayer was said by Bishop Matano about an hour after his election as pope. So we are delighted that he is here with you. He will be a wonderful shepherd of souls and he is looking forward to speaking with you. He will make a brief statement and then he will be open to questions.

BISHOP MATANO: Thank you very much, Bishop Cunningham.

Allow me first to express my deep gratitude to Bishop Clark who has served this Diocese for 33 years. With the grace of God I probably will serve 8 to 9 years and in that time I certainly could not expect to have that same development of admiration for whatever ministry I may perform as Bishop Clark has been able to do by a very dedicated priestly and episcopal life. I hope Your Excellency will always feel at home in what has been your home. And being brothers in the Episcopacy, we will continue to confirm our sisters and brothers in the faith.

I am very glad to have had the guidance and the leadership during this interregnum of Bishop Cunningham who in the last 24 hours has been extremely helpful to me in coming to understand the beautiful Diocese of Rochester.

I am very grateful to Father Hart. He appears to be one of those silent workers who keeps everything in order and already in a short time has been most helpful. And I am sure he has been a great blessing to Bishop Cunningham.

I am very grateful for the service given by those who are my first collaborators in ministry as we read in the documents of the Vatican Council II, my brother priests. I look to them for support. I look to them to be the extension of my office of bishop in the different parishes and ministries in which they serve.

But as priests and bishops, how much we know we need the help and support of all our brothers and sisters in the diocesan family, the permanent deacons who serve, the religious sisters and the laity; the laity over these decades who have experienced any number of changes somehow may always cling to the Church for support and in turn they give us true support.

In order to give you an insight into what I have done or my time in Burlington as bishop, I ask your kind indulgence to speak for a few moments about the Diocese of Burlington. Many years ago, Cardinal Gantine (spelling?) the Prefect of the Congregation For Bishops told bishops THE DIOCESE IS YOUR BRIDE, YOU WED YOURSELF TO THAT DIOCESE AND YOU DON’T LOOK TO ANY OTHER PLACE FOR ADVANCEMENT OR PROMOTION. I went to Burlington and I had every intention being there until my duties reached completion.

I am a city boy from Providence. I really didn’t know one cow from the other. I didn’t know what a sugar house was. I couldn’t define all the different types of trees. Other than my predecessor, Bishop Angel, I didn’t know anyone. But it has become my home.

What are the people like? I think of the farmer who asked me, and I had other places that asked, BISHOP, WILL YOU COME AND BLESS MY FARM. OH, I SAID, OH, I’D BE HAPPY TO. So I approached the barn were all the cows were and there is this farmer waiting outside and when I arrived he looks at me hesitantly and says, YOUR EXCELLENCY, I AM HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU. And then he says, DID I SAY THAT RIGHT? Then I said to him, LONG BEFORE I ARRIVED, YOU HAD IT VERY RIGHT.

I thought of the family that had just built a new sugar house and said, BISHOP, WILL YOU COME AND BLESS OUR SUGAR HOUSE. And the son who wanted to show me all the tubes that ran around the trees and for feet upon feet upon feet and how before they went to school they had to check all the tubing to make sure the squirrels didn’t make any holes and patched them up. And so honored that the Bishop would come and bless their sugar farm. A beautiful family and I said, I GOT MORE OUT OF THIS BLESSING THAN I GAVE.

I think of the students at the Catholic Center at UBM where I went quite frequently and the Marian processions with these gentlemen carrying the statue of Mary in procession and some on the campus looking , IS THIS A FOLINI MOVIE, IS THIS FOR REAL? But again, strong faith.
We were hit very, very hard by the tropical storm Irene. And I went to visit all the sites. And as I got to one Parish in Bethel a pick up truck arrived with a dozen people inside. So I asked, DO YOU USUALLY COME TO MASS THIS WAY? And they WELL NO, BUT WE CAN’T GET OVER HERE, THE ROAD IS FLOODED AND WASHED OUT, SO WE WALK ALONG THE EDGE OF THE WATER AND THEN THIS PICK UP TRUCK PICKS US UP AND BRINGS US TO MASS.

Fidelity to the Eucharist, such a real indication again from God’s laity.

I think of the school children waiting to visit with them and they stand and wait to greet you outside. As soon as you get out of the car, all the different voices, WELCOME BISHOP MATANO, WELCOME BISHOP MATANO. A sincerity and an innocence to be treasured.

So, was it all idyllic? No. We too suffered greatly because of the sexual abuse crisis. You probably will read that much of my administration was dealing with these situations. Through it all, the laity were a great support. It has been very, very painful time, a very painful time for the victims and all affected by this crisis. I take this opportunity again to apologize to the victims of sexual abuse for what they endured at the hands of those whom they have trusted. I pray, I handle those circumstances the best I could. But every day I beg God’s mercy for the inadequacies that may have been in place when I dealt with these circumstances. And that God in his mercy will forgive me and make up for my own inadequacies amidst such trials. And the faithful, this affects the whole Diocesan family, not just those who are the victims and those who deal with the victims, it affects the whole Diocesan family. So I continue to see some of the victims and I pray every day for all of them that somehow they will make their way back to the Church. Because it’s never really settled, is it, until they again are with us in prayer?

And so I come here with these experiences and you probably ask, WHY BISHOP DID YOU DECIDE TO COME? COULD YOU HAVE SAID NO? And then the strongest woman in the history of Christianity’s voice is heard in my heart. THY WILL BE DONE. Our Mother Mary who set the whole world upside down by her FIAT accepting to become the Mother of God and to follow her Son on that road to Golgotha. THY WILL BE DONE. And I believe in my heart God’s will has been revealed to me in the person of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

The Patron of this Diocese, Saint John Fisher, died on Tower Hill in London in 1535 because of his loyalty to the Holy See. Could I have a greater model in imitating Mary in saying THY WILL BE DONE?

In the history of your Diocese, every Bishop has a common theme. He has worked for unity. He has worked to make the faith and the will of God come alive among God’s People by a unity which is more than human but which becomes transcendent because of what supports this unity, the very Person of JESUS CHRIST in the Most Holy Eucharist. At every Mass we all become one with Jesus in Holy Communion and there time stands still and every difference is obliterated as we all are now God’s own children united to His Son. It is Christ in the Eucharist who gives us the strength to say THY WILL BE DONE; who gave John Fisher the strength to die a martyr’s death.

In the beautifully renovated Cathedral in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament there is a tabernacle of Saint Philip Neri Parish which burned to the ground in 1967 and claimed the lives of Father George Weinmann and Sister Lillian Marie as they went to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament during that fire. Could there be any greater testimony to the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist than that living example in our own time of Father and Sister who went into those flames because they believed there is Jesus?

I am sure many will ask, WHAT IS YOUR STYLE OF MINISTRY, BISHOP? WHAT IS YOUR AGENDA? WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN? The way times change so rapidly now, if you have a strategic plan for five minutes, God bless you.

My strategic plan is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it enfolds in the life of the Church through Her Teaching and Her Magisterium. My agenda is to model the service of those who have gone before me as the Shepherds of the Diocese. My agenda is to try to make people holy. Holy isn’t some kind of magical word. Holy means to be absorbed by Jesus, to really believe he is the way, the truth and the life.

Styles differ. I may have a different style than Bishop Clark. Bishop Francis, Pope Francis has a different style from Pope Emeritus Benedict. But all of us are attached to the same message, but a message that is not a thing, a message that’s a person: Jesus Christ.

And I hope my first priority will be to bring people back to Mass. I hope I will be able in some small way to bring back our brothers and sisters estranged from the Church, who no longer worship among us. I believe the Roman Missal, The Third Edition, has really been a great opportunity to revive the sanctity and the reverence we should have for the Eucharist and for the Mass and to see this is what motivates everything we do in the life of the Church. We can become a bit too preoccupied with persons in leadership and forget we’re all John the Baptist; IT IS I WHO MUST DECREASE AND CHRIST WHO MUST INCREASE IN ME.

I pray that those who hear these words, if you are not practicing the faith, PLEASE COME HOME, COME HOME. WE MISS YOU, COME HOME. THE LORD IS AWAITING YOU, COME HOME. Because again his arms will be open as the Father of that son who left home to seek his fortune and it just didn’t work who said REJOICE AND BE GLAD FOR MY SON WHO WAS LOST HAS NOW BEEN FOUND.

Please come back and please pray for me. Pray hard. This will be a difficult adjustment. After the light and the cameras and all the hoopla that goes with these announcements, the reality and the work of the Gospel sets in. I need the prayers of all of you. Pray for the Diocese of Burlington. I hope they don’t have to wait as long for a Shepherd as you did. But pray for them for the next couple of months before I am installed here I will try to address several areas so that my successor will be as blessed as I am in coming to Rochester.

I am a small man with a big job. I owe a partiality naturally to what is small but in this case I have big responsibilities here.

And finally please keep Bishop Clark always in your prayers. Being a bishop today is, at least in my experience, quite challenging.

I know there will be some who will say well he’s ok, others may be disappointed. I am a human being, that is very natural. If I could please everyone then I would be living in the tabernacle. That is not the case. It is difficult to do the best you can and create unity.

But do read the history of the Diocese where every bishop sought to achieve unity. But we will never have that unity unless we bend our knee in adoration of the Christ of the Eucharist.

Remember our Patron Saint John Fisher. If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me. Indeed, he did that. So that in the year 1510 Erasmus would write of him, “In our time no one can be compared to him for holiness of life and greatness of soul”. In my humble ministry I pray may all our people know holiness of life, greatness of soul.

Thank you so very, very much. Anyone whom I may have failed to thank I am very sorry. I am very grateful to all of you. And again please, please pray for me and I hope and pray, I think this is my last stop and I hope and pray it will truly be a benefit. God bless you all and may the Lord continue to be our strength.

BISHOP CUNNINGHAM: Are there any questions?

(questions cannot be heard, the following are Bishop Matano’s answers to each question)

BISHOP MATANO: Well, that’s a very good question. I can tell you in all honesty I had no expectation at all of coming to Rochester. I really don’t know, maybe they thought Burlington needed a relief. I really accept it as God’s will. In my whole time as a priest, I’ll be ordained 42 years in December, I never asked for any position and always accepted what was given to me and it brought me to this point. So am I the best, I would be the last to say that is the case. Were there others more qualified who for some reason were not appointed? All of that is very, very possible. But I really don’t know the answer to that. It is part of the mystery that will be revealed when we someday meet the Lord. I will ask that question. Be sure, I don’t consider myself to be the one who has the answer to every problem, whether it is here in Rochester or Burlington or wherever it might be.

In all honesty, I didn’t see a pope in my own age that I didn’t admire. I was a young boy when John XXIII was elected and I was in High School when the Vatican Council was in full swing and we had to write essays in our religion class about the Second Vatican Council and he was outstanding. He was followed by Paul VI, another outstanding pope who will one day truly be recognized in history as an extraordinary personality. He was a deeply humble man who gave himself completely to the Church. John Paul I, a thirty day reign. I could be here for 30 years and not accomplish what he accomplished in 30 days with a warmth and a love that everybody could identify with. And then John Paul II who became an extraordinary and charismatic leader who raised us all up. Pope Benedict, a great scholar, a great teacher, again a very holy man and a very, in his own way truly humble. And now Pope Francis. We don’t spend a whole lot of money on election for pope, but we haven’t done too badly in these years. We have raised up extraordinary leaders in the Church in a very simple manner. I think I have something to learn from all of them; all of them have been a blessing and each in his own way has something to teach. And that is a great benefit to me as a bishop to have this wonderful example. Oh, speaking of leadership, I do want to take this opportunity to congratulate the new mayor of Rochester, Mayor Lovely. I hope that I will have the opportunity to meet her and we know truly her administration will be lovely, mine I can’t say.

Well, this is the longest I have ever been in Rochester. And probably, the first time I have been in Rochester. So I have looked at the history of the Diocese, and I have read different reports. I think to give a clear statement other than what I said about…the Church gives us our vision. I am not here to recreate. I am here to uplift, to continue, to teach. The role of the Bishop is to teach, to sanctify, to govern; and I pray always in truth and in charity. But as far as different changes that have to be made in parishes or in parish administration, or in diocesan governance, it wouldn’t be very beneficial at this time to say, YES I AM GOING TO THIS, I AM GOING…why don’t you get to know the lay of the land first? In some instances I had to hit the ground running in Burlington but I also had time to study in other areas particularly in parish planning to bring parishes together, to merge parishes, to make the best possible use of our resources but I had to know what those resources were before I could make those changes.

Well, what you see is what you get. You’re getting a little taste of it now. I try to be very respectful of people, I try to be attentive to my work. I try to give a good example by my own life, I try to give good example when I pray at Mass. I really believe that when we stand at the altar and stand in the Person of Christ, we have to be conscious at every Mass of what we are doing. It is not my show and it is hardly about me. I am here to bring Christ to others. And I hope I am sincere in all I try to accomplish.

Oh I have always learned to go with the home team wherever home may be.

Well, in the Diocese of Burlington the Director of Catholic Charities was a woman, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools was a woman, the Director of Catholic Formation is a woman, the Director of Human Resources is a woman. They certainly have many gifts, talents and insights. They sit on consultative body, the consultative boards. They work very hard in our parishes particularly in the area of religious education. And remember, every man had a mother. And in my own life, I had the best possible parents anyone could hope for. I had a mother and a father who were outstanding. And they both taught me a lot. My dad taught me what it means to be a Catholic gentleman. My mom taught me what it meant to be a dedicated Catholic woman. My father was a barber. He probably is looking down on me today and saying why didn’t you get a haircut before this public meeting? But do you know what it was like to be a barber in the 60’s? My sister and I say the best kept secret was that we were poor and didn’t know it. And we had just started to live in our own home. For the first 10 years of my life I lived in what is called tenement houses and the first one is what we called a cold water flat. That means only cold water comes out no matter how long you wait. But through all that, I watched my mother and my father beautifully complement one another, work together cooperatively and by that cooperation, by that complementarity they were for me and for my sister extraordinary role models. So, cooperation, collaboration, that’s part of life and I think it’s part of every diocese and I think, certainly as you say, to the extent that offices are permitted. I tried to give you an example in Burlington. I hope and pray that I will be able to work together with everyone, not only in the category of man and woman, but young, old, all the people in between. This life is tough you know. Today it is tough entering the world for young people. To make their way in the world is pretty difficult. And leading the world today is not too easy either with all the health concerns and challenges that the poor have. And the time in between is very muddy and we all fall in the mud, pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. And if I fall in the mud I’m not really going to ask who is picking me up.

As a Bishop, I certainly, not only accept but I support what the Church teaches about the ordination of men to the priesthood. But I think when you receive our Lord in Holy Communion, what more can we ask for? That union surpasses every other union. And it can be very frustrating if we devote ourselves to seeking change of what we know is not the reality when we can go forward in so many other ways. I think when we look at the history of the Church, it is rather amazing that long before women held prominent places of leadership in the civil sector, in the early 50’s, even coming to these shores, many of the presidents of colleges were religious women. Many of the presidents of hospitals were religious women. And they were in the vanguard of leadership long before it became customary for people to have these positions in present day society. So if a person disagrees with the Church’s teaching, I say but still don’t make that be an obstacle to your union with the Lord. Like Saint Paul says let nothing or no one ever separate us from the love of Christ; and that love is most perfectly realized in the Eucharist.

Well, we are indeed One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. I don’t think it is good to be territorial in the sense that I can very well learn from what is happening in other Dioceses. I think on these major issues cooperation among Dioceses is absolutely essential, that we unite for the purpose that we truly, truly believe in. And in such a global world why should we limit ourselves by geography? In Vermont it was very difficult as you say some of these legislative issues but one person that called and said will you be seeking the help of the Vermont Catholic Conference? I said, I am the Vermont Catholic Conference. I am the only Bishop that is in Vermont and we have a limited staff, that would be I as I sit before my computer. So naturally I reached out to other Dioceses for guidance, for assistance. How did they approach it? So I think certainly in the State of New York it is a great blessing that the region is also the New York Catholic Conference. And all the Dioceses can come together and work on common issues. I think that is a tremendous blessing.

Well, he’s already been a very gracious Bishop to me. When I have a question, I don’t email. I go directly to the phone or if I am in the building I go directly to the office and if it is in walking distance I may walk to the place. I seek answers from people when I don’t know. Certainly Bishop Clark has, 33 years is a long time. Our Lord was on earth for approximately 33 years; he only had 3 years of public ministry. So you don’t not take advantage of that longevity of experience. Will we always disagree? Well you know people agree, they may disagree but charity is what must guide everything. We’ve become too divisive in society and in the Church. You know what was the most painful thing for me in the sexual abuse crisis? When I would be in court, we had six formal trials and I would be at each of them every day, I’m on this side and the plaintiff is on the other side. That aisle was like the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of my flock. How did we ever get to this point? Sometimes there are circumstances which have to be addressed legally. That is our judicial system. But that was painful. There are just too many divisions, too many agendas. It really is time to come together and work together and to find our guidance in the Gospel and in the Church as She teaches and has taught over the years.

BISHOP CLARK: I am perfectly happy to be whatever assistance the Bishop asks of me. He knows that I hope. I’ll try to make that clear as time goes by. He is my Bishop now. We are brother Bishops of course but in terms of the conduct of this Diocese, he’s my boss. That is going to be very,very clear and evident from day one. You are addressing a very happy man, Mike. I may be the happiest man in the room save Bishop Cunningham. Because now, and I will put it succinctly, we have been praying for this man for a long time and now we can name him. I am very, very pleased and happy that Bishop Matano is with us, to lead us and serve our community. My primary responsibility as I read the documents relative to retired Bishops is first personal interest is pray for the local Church which is so much a part of their lives and still is asking God to bless the new Bishop and his relationship with the Community. Bishop Matano in a very beautifully humble way says that takes work and it does. People have to fall in love with one another and that takes time. But I think you would share my impression that we have a man here, who’s a loving person who wants know the people, serve them and be a part of their lives. I just am thrilled with that. Whatever the Bishop wants I am ready for it except if he asks me to run committees or you know do that kind of stuff. You’ll understand that, won’t you? Seriously, if you asked me…

BISHOP MATANO: You really would take off many years of purgatory.

BISHOP CUNNINGHAM: Thank you, thank you everyone. We are delighted you were here and help us tell our story. We are looking forward to Bishop Matano’s installation scheduled for Friday January 3rd, Feast of the Holy Most Name, Sacred Heart Cathedral, probably at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

BISHOP MATANO: I leave you with the words of one of my predecessors, Bishop Fulton Sheen: LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.

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