WINTER PARK | Called, chosen, loved, and blessed was the message of Bishop Gerald Kicanas to senior priests at the Aging with Grace retreat, Nov. 1-3. The bishop arrived prepared, sharing something about himself, Diocese of Orlando bishops, and about priests.
Beginning with a review of the Diocese of Orlando bishops and their mottos, Bishop Kicanas, pointed out what these men contributed and how their motto revealed what they valued. Father Paul Henry, now retired, found great wisdom in this. “He wanted us to be drawn into our memories of our own experience of the Church that we were ordained for and the people we were ordained to serve… He brought us into our own hearts and made us reflective.”
Bishop Kicanas serves on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, served with Catholic Relief Services and as bishop for the Diocese of Tucson and Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Chicago. His vast experience as a psychologist and 54 years as an ordained priest were evident in his easy and jovial delivery of an essential message.
“It is important to have time to step away from all those things that take hold of our life – our fears, our anxieties, our responsibilities,” he said. “There are so many things that weigh on us to keep us from appreciating the time in which we are.”
Sharing the beauty of being “an elder”, he reminded them they are the “storytellers” who pass on the faith of the Church and its history. In this season of their lives, he urged them, “Make the Word central. The Word is where we encounter Christ, where our faith can be deepened. Spend time listening to someone else. There is so much we can learn from one another. Spend some time with the Eucharistic Lord and standing in awe of how good and how gracious God is.”
Msgr. Richard Walsh is pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park. He welcomed the respite of the retreat saying, “(Bishop Kicanas’s) message is so very, very practical. A lot of what he is saying is stuff we’ve heard many times before, but somehow we forget it. We get involved in life and the things that are most important; how we deal with people on a daily basis, and we forget. It was an excellent reminder.”
Asking the priests to recall their mentors, he encouraged them to write to them and offer gratitude noting everyone needs words of affirmation.
Calling to mind Pope Paul VI’s conversations with Jean Guitton, a French philosopher and theologian, the pope told Guitton, “I am in ecstasy and terror of having been washed in the waters, having become a son of God, then baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Bishop Kicanas noted per Pope Paul VI, his primary dignity was his Baptism. “It was an ecstasy and a terror of the responsibility of being a follower of Christ.”
The bishop told the priests, “When those waters get tough, remember the waters of your Baptism. As undeserving as we are, it was that moment that we became a son of God, precious in God‘s eyes. Not only are we called and chosen, but we are loved.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, November 03, 2021