This homily was given by Deacon Leo Coughlin at a Mass on June 26 honoring Sister of St.Joseph  Margaret McNaughton upon her retirement from St. Michael Cathedral Parish in Springfield.
In our Gospel today we hear Jesus say to his disciples follow me, but
a few had excuses of why they couldn’t just follow.
We learn that discipleship means leaving all that we have and
trusting in God. This surrender to God is different for each one of
Well, this weekend we are honoring our beloved Sr. Margaret
McNaughton, who on July 1, 2016 will be entering her 68th year as a
sister of St. Joseph. Sixty-eight years ago Sr. Margaret said yes to
Jesus and has followed Jesus ever since.  It would take the better
part of this Mass to highlight all the wonderful accomplishments of
this beautiful Sister.
More to the point-just imagine that you were a young woman or man and
knew that this path of religious life was your calling. Every day I
stand in awe of all these fearless warriors of Our Lord.  Many are
called, but few are chosen for a lifetime of service and devotion to
our Church.  All of our sisters and priests, Sr. Eileen, Msgr. CC1,
but especially today, Sr. Margaret McNaughton.
What makes these people different from the rest of us? I have thought
about this many times…pure faith…plain and simple. Faith in the spirit
of God our Father, his holy Son and the holy Spirit that binds us all
Through these gifts, they give to us the love of God through all that
they accomplish every hour, every day, every year of their lives. We
love our sisters and priests.

Just as Mary said YES to the angel Gabriel, our Sr. Margaret said YES to Jesus.
My personal interactions with Sister are always eventful and with
great insight. She’s probably thinking what is he talking about? This
guy from Boston.   Well, many times during our conversations, she will
pass on a great thought or idea or will tell me about a moving homily
she may have heard in the past.
Sr. reminded me of a homily she heard years ago. It went like this.
When we die and hopefully we get in to Heaven, there will be 3
surprises waiting for us.
1st  WOW!  I made it.
2nd. WOW!  He/she made it
And 3rd  as you look around and see the many people who are in Heaven
because of what you did to help them.
I told Sr. Margaret there will be thousands of people who are in
Heaven because of her.
So as you reflect on the Gospel,  put yourselves in the shoes of the
disciples.  What would we have done if Jesus asked us to drop
everything and follow Him? Would we have made excuses? Like some of
the disciples.  More importantly, what are we doing today June 26th,
Are we doing what our Lord asked of us today? He is not asking us to
drop everything and leave our families or possessions, as he did with
the disciples.


1.      He is asking us to LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS not just your next door
neighbors, but all of our neighbors.  How are we doing with that?
2.       He is asking us to pray daily.  How are we doing with            that?
3.       He is asking us to honor our father and mothers. How are we  doing
with that?
There are others that Jesus wants us to do. We know what they  are.
How are we doing with those?
Just as our Mother Mary and Sr. Margaret said Yes to our Lord, we
have said Yes also, but along the way we may have slipped in one area
or another.  The good thing is our Lord is always there to forgive and
lift us up because he is a loving, and most importantly of all, a
forgiving  God.
If we live our lives the way our Lord wants us to, then when we are
called home we will have those three surprises waiting for us.  Thank
you Lord for promising us Eternal Salvation, IF we live the life you
want us to.
And thank you Sr. Margret for this homily, just like you…short and oh so sweet!

Father Vernon Decoteau Nov Mirror p11

The following is the homily given by Father Daniel Boyle at the funeral Mass of Father Vernon Decoteau on June 6, 2016.

In the name of our Bishop, Mitchell Rozanski, our retired Bishop, Timothy McDonnell, Our Diocesan Priests, special priest friends, Father Richard Trainor, Father Charles Kuzmeski and his faithful, Parochial Vicar, Father Michael Pierz, Deacons, and Men and Women Religious, I would like to offer to Father Vern’s brother, Bruce, Shelby, Nicholas, Nicole, Jared, Scott, Michael, Taunt Eva, and his cousins and extended family members, as well as, the entire Parish Family of St. Francis, our collective sympathy and empathy at the death of our beloved Vernon. I also extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the faithful Vernon served during the 41 years of his priesthood, among them:  St. Mary’s, Westfield, Cathedral High School, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Northampton, and since January of 1996, this magnificent Parish of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as, Wells and Ogunquit, Maine.

On the day of every priest’s ordination, the Bishop gives the following instruction, and for your prayerful reflection, I would like to share it with you.

This man, Vernon, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the position to which he is to be promoted in the Church.

It is true God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church in a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind. He was sent by his Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepard. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.

Our Brother, Vernon, has seriously considered this step and is now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order. He is to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepard in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the people of God, a holy temple.

He is called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be molded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration he will be made a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice.

He then addresses the candidate:

My son, Vernon, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it with Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.

When you baptize, you will bring men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world. Remember that you are chosen from among God’s people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own.

Decoteau, Vernon P.jpg

Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.

In Today’s Gospel of Luke, which Father Vern chose himself, we hear the familiar passage of the disciples encountering Our Lord on the road to Emmaus, and how they came to know Him in the breaking of the bread. We hear these words and we think of Father Vern. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us, on the way, and opened the scriptures to us?”

Is that not what Vern, ever the teacher, did for us? He opened for us, the scriptures; for this, his beloved Parish of St. Francis in his preaching, for generations of faith gatherings and TOOLS (Teams of Our Lady). All this and so much more!

Besides his preaching and teaching, Vern had a wonderful, full, musical and entertaining life!

A few years ago, I invited Vern to join me on a Caribbean vacation in February. Unfortunately, a major snowstorm hit the Northeast! All flights from Bradley were cancelled. The ever-resourceful Vern discovered he could take a taxi from Bradley to the Amtrak station in Windsor Locks, and board a train to Penn Station. Once in New York City, he took a train to Baltimore and boarded a flight to a nearby island. He then took a boat to where I was waiting with the largest Gin & Tonic known to humanity. I told him, “Vern, you are the only person I have ever known to take a taxi, two trains, an aircraft and a boat to get here! You deserve this drink!” We proceeded to enjoy two wonderful weeks on the Island.

We have all heard the expression, “With my luck I’ll probably be at the airport when my ship comes in!” Well, that literally happened to Vern in Venice, Italy. He went to Rome to participate in the Ordination of Diaconate for Mark Glover at St. Peter’s Basilica. His plan was to then travel by train to Venice where as a Certified Member of the “Apostleship of the Sea”, he would board a cruise ship and assume the role of Chaplain for 12 days through the Adriatic, into the Mediterranean and back to the Port of Rome. However, upon arriving in Venice, he discovered there was no ship for him to board! It had been sent into dry-dock for refurbishing. While many others would have gotten angry, Vern, always good-natured, took things in stride, enjoyed the sights of Venice for a few days and flew home early!

Ever the Liturgist, Father Vern was one of the few priests, and I mean few, who embraced and loved the New Roman Missal. I said to him one day during a lively discussion regarding the New Missal, “Vern, who on earth uses words like consubstantial, oblation and imbued in normal speech?” In response he said, “Daniel, this is about moving the Liturgy from the kitchen into the dining room. This is fine dining, instead of fast food!”


From her book, Reflections, Barbara Bush recalls, “George and I were having dinner with friends at the Kennebunkport Inn when I noticed the man in shorts sitting on a stool at the piano. He had a glorious voice, and knew all the songs from the great Broadway plays. People gathered around the piano kept calling out songs and saying, “Sing it Vern.” Before we left, Betsy Heminway invited him over so we could tell him just how much we had enjoyed his singing. Since we were having a dinner later that week, George asked him if he ever sang for groups. He said that he really hadn’t, but he would. Then he went on to say that he was on vacation with his mother and that he was a Catholic priest. I have been teased for years because I said to him, “You can’t possibly be a priest; you’re in shorts.” Father Vern is not only a priest but a good one. His parish, St. Francis in Belchertown, Massachusetts is growing and many young people are joining his congregation. He has sung for us many times over the years, and he and his sweet mother, Ida, have become friends of ours.”

Former President Bush wrote these words following the death of Vern:

“Barbara and I send our heartfelt condolences to all of you at St. Francis Parish, who are mourning the death of your beloved pastor.

We loved your ‘singing priest,’as we liked to call him. I hope I am not revealing any secrets when I tell you we met Father Vern in a bar in our summer home of Kennebunkport, Maine. We were having dinner and he was belting out Broadway songs at the piano. Thinking he had to be a star of one kind or another, we asked to meet him so we could join his fan club. And yes we were shocked to learn he was not from New York or Hollywood, but was a Catholic priest.

But we were right about one thing – Father Vern was a star. He excelled at all he did, whether it was singing in our living room for friends and family, which he did for us a number of times or if he was fulfilling his mission in life – taking care of the good people of St. Francis Parish.

We were all blessed to know him. I know you will miss him terribly.”

My guess is I am not the first person to make this observation this week:  our loss is heaven’s gain. I can only imagine the singing and dancing that is going on there right now. Even St. Peter must be gathered around the piano.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your celebration of the richly-lived life of Father Vernon Decoteau.”

George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States

Note that the Presidential Seal is on the first pew in the Church.

In the words of Father CJ last night at the Vigil Service, Vern was our friend, your Pastor, a faithful priest and for all of us “The Voice” that we will never forget! Let him speak to us once more in the way he knew best….. Vern’s recording of “Take Me Hand, Precious Lord” is played over the church’s sound system

corpus christi

By Hannah Green

Editor’s note: Hannah is a rising sophomore at Simmons College, a member of St. Mary Parish in Westfield and a summer intern at Catholic Communications.

Imagine being in a procession of people almost 200  strong, chasing the Eucharist through the streets of downtown Ludlow. Your feet are swollen inside your dress shoes, the humidity is boiling you from the inside out, and after leaving the first church in your route, you realize that there are three more to go. Could you continue? More importantly, would you?

If you listened to your brain, you probably wouldn’t. Invaluable as our brains are, they also happen to be excellent excuse-makers.

“You have a baby, you don’t need to go.”

corpus christi 4

“It’s your day off, why don’t you lay down on the sofa and relax?”

“It’s too hot out, you shouldn’t go outside.”

As much as our brains want to keep us physically happy and safe, they can’t always account for our spiritual needs. While you’re walking down the sidewalk in peak summer temperatures, your body is trying to figure out why, and working to convince you to get somewhere cool and comfortable. It’s not your brain’s fault that it’s trying to get you to head home; it’s just looking out for number one, and avoiding conditions that could dehydrate and tire you out is pretty high on its list of priorities.


So sometimes, like the folks following the Bishop and the Eucharist around last Sunday afternoon for the feast of Corpus Christi, you have to listen to your faith instead of your judicious friend upstairs.

It wasn’t the expectant embrace of the freshly frosted air blowing from air conditioners that drew people from one church to the next, but a desire to dedicate their day to God, and to celebrate his gift of the Eucharist to us.

They weren’t worried about the heat, carrying their children, or tackling the walk between all four parishes. As I watched and processed along beside them, following our reporter and videographer, I wondered, where did they find that strength? And how did they do it with the eyes of the world on them?


Well, maybe not the eyes of the world, but the eyes of the motorists, store owners, and pedestrians who happened to pass along their route down the sidewalks of bustling Ludlow streets.

As we drove in the Catholic Communications car to beat the procession to the next church, I noticed just how many people were watching this public display of devotion. In a little bakery, teenagers in white aprons and hair nets gathered in the front window, and at the repair shop next door, mechanics with sodas stopped their conversations to stare.

The odd thing is, if these parishioners had been in a different situation, a different location perhaps, and seen these many eyes on them, most would be horrified or overcome with something like stage fright. But not here, and not today.

corpus christi 2

How did they do it? I was still wondering this as they dispersed that afternoon, during my winding and long drive home, and even at night as I settled into bed. Where did they suddenly get that fearlessness, that perseverance, that strength?

Then I did what I usually turned to in moments where I was unsure, confused, or uncertain: I said a little prayer, and asked for help. And suddenly, I understood.

How many times had I felt weak, torn, or unfulfilled, yet found strength in my relationship with God? How many times had I felt empowered, strong, and whole by drawing on my faith as fuel?

Could faith overpower exhaustion, heat, and physical discomfort of such a strong degree?


The answer seemed obvious then—yes, it could. Hadn’t it brought others through even darker places before, such as times of excruciating physical pain and challenging mental road blocks.

The power of faith, and the power of our God, became all the more clear to me that day. Through God we are stronger than any obstacle we might encounter, and with God, we can overcome anything. Through this realization I find my own spiritual ease, and I owe it all to the faithful parishioners who never doubted why they were chasing the Eucharist through the streets of Ludlow one hot Sunday afternoon.






The following is the welcome address given at the 132nd and final Cathedral High School graduation. 

By Julianna Campbell
Class of 2016 


Bishop Rozanski, Sr. Andrea, Mayor Sarno, Mr. Miller, Mrs. O’Connell, Faculty and Staff, Parents and Friends, and the Class of 2016- Good Morning, my name is Julianna Campbell.  Welcome to the graduation of the class of 2016.  It has been a long four years, filled with many trials but also laughter and joy.  Together we have endured more than what most high-schoolers face.  We have made the best of what we had, regardless of the size and quality of the building.  We have challenged each other and grown despite our class size.  Every single obstacle that came our way, we faced it…together.  We all have many unforgettable memories and I believe that I speak for the whole class when I say that it is a privilege to have gotten to know all fifty-three of my peers.

This years theme at Cathedral, was mercy.  It is a perfect way to say goodbye to the legacy of Cathedral, while remaining hopeful for the future.  I would like to share with you an excerpt from Pope Francis’s  homily on Divine Mercy Sunday April 7, 2013.

“The Apostle Thomas personally experiences the mercy of God. … Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: “We have seen the Lord.” … And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief … He does not close the door, He waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. “My Lord and my God!”: with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by Divine Mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in His open side, and he discovers trust.”


Trust.  He discovers trust.  There are many times in these past few years when we often found it difficult to trust.  Many of us came to Cathedral hoping to be on Surrey Road by our junior or senior year, but this was no guarantee.  Junior year, when the future of Cathedral was in jeopardy, it was difficult to imagine our lives without our beloved school.  The important thing to remember is that throughout our four years together, we may have doubted, become discouraged, or questioned our purpose but no matter what the Divine Mercy of God was present.  It was present in the steady dedication of our teachers, the positivity of all the faculty and staff, and the moments of laughter emerging from every class. Whether it be overcoming an impossible Mr. Brodeur test together, the end of the year cookouts and baseball games, the Christmas celebrations, Ms. Leone and the library, or Mr. Dewey and his sarcastic jokes….these moments of joy are what kept us hopeful and fighting to make every single moment count.

It is a unique and powerful opportunity to be the last graduating class of Cathedral, but it is one we are honored to receive.   Neighbors and friends always asked me “Do you regret your decision to go to Cathedral?”  Every time, without hesitation, I said “no”.   I have grown as person, in every aspect and in ways that I would not be able to elsewhere.  It may have been challenging but these difficult times have molded us into persistent and dedicated leaders.  If I had the chance to go back and do it all over again, I would make the same decision.  I would come to Cathedral, where I would be met with teachers who love their jobs and students who would become some of my best friends.


I want to take a moment, on behalf of the class, to thank our teachers.  There is no group of people more willing to offer help or words of wisdom than this group of people sitting before us. Going forward, leaving behind the safety of Cathedral, our dedicated teachers and staff, and the comfort of childhood, we must trust.  We have to trust in our abilities, our talents, and ultimately God.  No matter what happens we will find Cathedral and God’s divine mercy wherever we go.  We just have to look for it.  Cathedral is more than a building, it is a way of being.  It is about persistence, dedication in the face of hardship, and mercy towards all.  Cathedral may not physically exist anymore after this morning, but it will live on forever- in our legacy.




The following is a talk given recently at  Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Easthampton. The author is featured in the May/June issue of The Catholic Mirror.

By Alice Charland

Hi, I’m Alice Charland — a “cradle Catholic,” having been born into a close-knit very devout, Catholic family, more than a few years ago.  I was engaged at age eighteen and married at nineteen, ten days after my fiancée returned from his first tour in Viet Nam.  Do you see any red flags popping up?

But I was a good Catholic, and did the best I could.  By the time I was 21, I had birthed two children and a marriage that was heading south.  My husband asked first for a separation, and then for a divorce.  There was no easy way out of this.  I had been raised to believe that once you had “made your bed,” you had to lie in it.  Divorce was not an option, but divorce was what I had, and at age 27 I had two young children to raise by myself.

At that point I was very involved in Parish life at Notre Dame Parish, having taught CCD for many years, was a member of the Parish Council and Spiritual Life Committee.  Despite my love for the Church, though, I couldn’t see any future for me there.  I couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to not remarrying for my own sake and my children’s sake, and I believed that the fee for an annulment was thousands of dollars, which was not available to me, so I did not pursue it.

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Over the next three years I began a process of detaching myself from the Church, and my children from Catholic education.  It didn’t take long before I became influenced by friends and family members who had also left the Church and were enamored of the New Age spirituality, where one was “spiritual,” but not “religious,” and Jesus was an Ascended Master, among many others.

It was the 70’s and I was still young.  Eventually I started dating, and let it suffice to say, that I did a number of things I should not have done.

As I became involved in the whole New Age scene, I thought myself very progressive for having freed myself from what I perceived as the pitfalls of organized religion.

I thought I had freed myself, but somehow I didn’t feel free.  An emptiness pervaded my life, and I tried to fill the Christ-sized hole in my heart with many other things.  I remarried and gave birth to three more children.  My husband was not Catholic and was not at all interested in exploring Catholicism.  And although I was beginning to feel Jesus calling me back, I still believed that the fee for annulment was way out of my reach, and return to the Church impossible.

Wedding Blessing with Fr. Piotr

After 30 years of marriage Jesus began calling me in earnest, but I felt it was kind of mean to be called back to Catholicism without the means open to me to return.  That’s when my friend Debbie, newly converted, asked me why I didn’t return.  She told me that her friend had just gotten an annulment and it only cost her a few hundred dollars.

Shortly after, I contacted Fr. Tom at Notre Dame Parish and decided to apply for an annulment.  My husband told me he thought I was less than sane, but I was determined.  I can’t tell you how I longed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, or how painful it was to watch fellow parishioners at Our Lady of the Valley Parish go up to receive Communion, some reverently, some not so reverently.

For 60 weeks I watched, waited and prayed — not knowing if my application would be approved.  I prayed to God in front of Jesus in the tomb that Lent, that my application for annulment would be approved, fully knowing how my pride had led me far from Him and the Church for so long.  I told Him, “I have nothing to offer you but your Son.”  I felt Him speak deeply in my heart, “It is enough.” Three and a half months later, my annulment was approved.

So I have been asked to speak about how I moved from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.”  This is my answer:  I desired Him.  I acknowledged His love for me, and am doing my best to love Him back.  But how?

It is only through a committed relationship that this can take place, and it takes time to build intimacy.  Like all loving relationships, it is also based on good communication, mutual trust and a strong desire to sacrifice for the good of the other.  This doesn’t happen overnight – for most of us, at least – it is an on-going process.

My relationship began with learning about Jesus through scripture readings, homilies and Bible Study.  But that could be likened to reading a biography about someone, without ever having had a conversation with him.

For me, the most meaningful conversations that I share with Him are before and after having received Holy Eucharist, and during Eucharistic Adoration.  Of course, I can speak with Him anywhere.

What do I say?  I tell Jesus what is on my mind at the time.  Sometimes I ask for strength, clarity, forgiveness or healing.  In return I pledge my love to Him, and I seek His will for me because I desire to please Him.

He continues to call me to come closer to Him, and I am challenged to prove my love, by my willingness to move out of my comfort zone, and into the greater expanse of His image of me.

I feel Him willing me to come to Daily Mass whenever I can, and although I sometimes resist along the way, I know that our union is blessed and deepened every time I receive Our Lord in Holy Eucharist. Why wouldn’t it be?  It is the place where I am in Communion with Him.  And as weeks and months go by, I realize that some of my “go to” sins no longer have a hold on me.  Jesus is transforming me from the inside out.

Small Christian Community Trip to St. Kateri Shrine

I’d like to share a brief excerpt from a Lenten booklet, “Five Minutes with the Word.”  …  “If we want to know the freedom of a living relationship with God, we have to put aside any stubborn self-reliance and place our faith in Jesus and the atonement He has won for us.”

This faith in Jesus has grown in me as I began to realize that every good thing I am and have ever received, comes from Him.  He alone is the source of my good.

Still, the world is constantly telling us that we need to be “in control” – all the while, becoming immersed in greater and greater demands on our time and resources.

It isn’t easy to let go of the sense that we need to try harder and harder to maintain control and succeed.  Yet our greatest lessons often come when we have reached the end of our proverbial rope, and have no one to rely on but God.  It is then that we come to understand that He is always there, waiting for us … so patiently … so lovingly.

Jesus truly thirsts for us – He desires to be in intimate relationship with you and me.  I invite you to take a leap of faith into His loving arms.  I can only tell you, from my own experience, that you will not regret it, and that   He will welcome you home with great joy.

For more information about annulments contact the Marriage Tribunal at or call 413 452-0664.






By Peggy Weber

You probably won’t find a section in the card aisle for “Happy Cloistered Day” cards. Much of the life in a monastery is meant to be quiet and not seeking attention.
However, I could not let this day, November 21, go by without recognizing the men and women who choose to spend most of their life in one place and most of their day in prayer.
The Institute of Religious Life has given this day the title “Pro Orantibus” day. It translates “For Those Who Pray.”
It is our turn to thank and pray for those who pray for us each day.
I have been blessed to spend time with both the Visitation Nuns in Tyringham and the Dominican Nuns in West Springfield. They are wonderful communities.
And this Saturday, on Nov. 21, “Real to Reel” will air from the Trappist Monastery in nearby Spencer.

bish at brewery

All three places offer solace, prayer and some really cool stuff.
The Trappists have recently begun brewing a highly-praised Trappist Ale. In fact, Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski recently toured the facility. And a special report about the monastery and its business will be featured on Real to Reel this Saturday.
The Visitation Nuns offer a variety offer some beautiful vestments through Chantal Artisans.
They also offer Sacred Heart talks on the first Sunday of the month, except for January, July and August, and usually at 4 p.m.They also focus on their music and have even released a CD called “A Visitation Christmas.”
And they offer opportunities for private retreats.

close of monastery

The Dominican Nuns have been a presence in the Diocese of Springfield since 1925. They offer beautiful “spiritual bouquets” and Mass cards as part of their “work.” They also host community events through the Third Order Dominicans and special novenas.
When I visited the Visitation Nuns I felt so at home and welcome. I have gone during the summer when they have a beautiful garden growing and I have gone in the winter when they put up an ice skating rink.



My dear Dominican Nuns have been a part of my life since I was a baby. My mother visited their monastery on Ingersoll Grove in Springfield and helped collect “egg and butter ” money for them. My children, and now my dear granddaughter, Cordelia, have visited the monastery often.
They are a source of joy. They also are a source of comfort.
I have turned to them in times of need. Either I call or e-mail the monasteries with my prayer request. The Visitation Nuns and the Dominican Nuns are my spiritual 911.


When I need help I know that the “good sisters” in the Berkshires and on Riverdale Road will be there.
There are so many times in life when one feels helpless. There are times when one faces great sorrow or a great challenge.
That is usually when I pray and when I seek the comfort and support of our local monasteries. I know that they are scheduled to spend hours in prayer each day.
I have seen bulletin boards at each monastery where they post prayer requests. I have felt the healing comfort of these women and their deep faith.
So Happy “Pro Orantibus” Day!
And thank you for praying for us!!!
For more information about the monasteries mentioned go to:

Photos by Peggy Weber or courtesy of the Dominican Nuns


By Peggy Weber

On a rainy, autumn afternoon, several people were lined up on a basement stairwell at St. Mary’s Rectory in Westfield. They had appointments for the Food Pantry which is run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
They were early and eager. They also were nice to me and my videographer who were there to report on how the Annual Catholic Appeal helps the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
I admit I felt sorry for them and grateful that I could just go to the grocery store and select what our family needed for the cupboard.
However, I also was so impressed with how the organizers of the pantry treated each person there with great respect and dignity.
They did not hand them a bag of groceries and send them on their way. They offered them choices from the food available. They helped carry bags of groceries for people. They chatted about recipes and life.
This group, which is run totally by volunteers, really is making a difference in the lives of so many people.


Volunteers from the local middle and high school talked with me about their work. One explained that she wants to earn a Girl Scout medal by increasing donations and targeting much-needed items like toilet paper and coffee.
One volunteer was excited because he had gotten a lot of meat at the Food Bank in Hadley for a very good price.
Joanne Miller, the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society explained that they are trying to perform the Corporal Works of Mercy.
She noted: “The members of the St. Vince de Paul Society step in the crisis time and time again to help hundreds of families in Westfield. The financial expenses totaled $25,561, which does not include the thousands of bas of food given out at the Food Pantry. Each penny, each can, jar and box that was taken in was given back out with love, personal contact and a caring heart.


The St. Vincent de Paul Society offers rental assistance, heating aid, outreach to Veterans at the Soldiers’ Home and local nursing homes and so much more.
They are carrying on a tradition that was started in France in 1831 when Blessed Frederic Ozanam was challenged to do good work. The St. Vincent de Paul Society was founded and spread and began its legacy of caring in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri.


However, on this cold and chilly day, those receiving bags of groceries probably did not know about this illustrious past. They were just grateful to receive help. And those sharing food with a smile were happy to give.
It really was a day I loved my work and my Catholic faith a lot.
For more information about the St. Vincent de Paul Society call the helpline at 568-5619.


By: Mari Barboza, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

A couple of days ago my mom called me. She had seen the image of Aylan, the drowned Syrian boy whose photo has captured the attention of the world, and was affected by it because Aylan looks like my toddler son Will. This heartbreaking tragedy became more personal for me this summer when I traveled to Jordan and Lebanon as part of a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) delegation, where we witnessed the work that CRS and our local partners are doing to help Syrian refugees and those displaced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

My visit with CRS changed my perceptions of the Middle East. In the media, we only see chaos and violence. However during the trip, we learned that the situation is much more complex than what the media portrays. What’s more, we learned about the difficulties the refugees face. Some of the refugees come from educated, middle-class families, but had to leave their comfortable lives behind because they feared that they would otherwise be killed.


In these difficult circumstances, we saw many people rise above the situation and perform extraordinary service. Our partners, the Caritas staff in Jordan and Lebanon, were some of the most professional teams I have seen. What sets them apart is a profound sense of mission.

They are not simply meeting immediate needs of food and shelter, but they’re helping these people deal with trauma. They’re also contributing to a culture of tolerance and peace . The Good Shepherd Sisters, with the support of CRS, work with refugee children in a village in the Bekaa Valley that borders Syria.


Sister Micheline, who directs the center told us: “Before, the kids were throwing paper on the ground. Now kids are cleaning the playground. We are teaching them respect for each other, and how to live together peacefully and how to respect others.” She also told us how the community was involved. “This village suffered 300 deaths in the war with Syria, but the community has accepted them (the refugees).

People have opened their land. We are working with local government to create respect.“ The sisters and the local Lebanese volunteers will have a lasting impact on the lives of these children. They are mutually transforming the Lebanese communities affected by the war, and are creating new paradigms of respect and tolerance.


After this experience, thinking that this situation does not affect me is not an option. After our return to the United States, a Syrian teacher at the center, wrote me this note: “Many thanks for your visit to my people from Syria last Tuesday. Your visit gave them a lot of hope that someone is interested in their situation in Lebanon and thinks of them from afar. Your gesture of love touched my heart profoundly, that you would put your lives in danger and come here to listen to and help the people who suffer in this war.”

I invite you to join me in a response: Praying for refugees, contributing financially, if you are able, advocating so their basic needs are met and that they have fair treatment. Finally, if they come into our country and our communities, let’s welcome them. Aylan could be my Will, he could be your son or grandson or nephew.


By Peggy Weber
Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service

This week I have a few concerns.
One is that I have eaten too much ice cream this summer and gained back the weight I had lost in order to look “good” for my daughter’s wedding.
Another is that I need to organize my Tupperware cupboard.
I also want to exercise more, pray more and be a better person.

How lucky am I!

Just listing these things makes me feel ridiculous. I know a healthy lifestyle is important but right now God is saying, “Seriously, Peggy! Look around you!”

God is right, as usual.

I am struck, most especially by the refugee crisis in Syria and Afghanistan that has spilled into Europe.

Syrian refugees flash victory signs in front of railways station in Hungary

On August 27, 59 men, 8 women and four children — all refugees believed to be from Syria — were discovered in the back of an abandoned truck in Austria. Police believe they suffocated and had been dead at least two days before they were found. The smugglers had left the truck by the roadside with those seeking a better life locked inside.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna,president of the Austrian bishops’ conference, said, “Such refugee suffering should awaken us, like a bolt from the blue, to the need for more generous attitudes and courageous decisions. The joint handling of the refugee tragedy in the face of such inhumanity is a test for European values.”

“My sympathy is with those who’ve suffered this imaginably agonizing death, and I cannot find words for the contempt for human life shown by the traffickers,” the cardinal said.

Member of Turkish military carries young migrant who drowned in failed attempt to sail to Greek island of Kos

And just yesterday, I stared at a picture of a young child who drowned while his family attempted to reach the Greek island of Kos. It is reported that thousands of people have died as they flee their violent and war-torn homes.

Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.

We cannot ignore this suffering.

Migrants walk along railway track in Serbia toward border with Hungary

What can we do? Pray. Pray. Oh, and Pray.

We also can provide financial support to Catholic Relief Services and other agencies who support refugees. We can see what we can do for refugees in our own area.

I will cut back on my ice cream consumption. I will try to exercise more. However, most especially, I will look around each day and thank God for the life I have and try and figure out how I can do more for others.

The following is an interview conducted by Catholic Communications Peggy Weber with Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski upon his first anniversary as the ninth bishop of Springfield. 

PEGGY:  Welcome, bishop.

BISHOP MITCH: Thank you, Peggy. It’s great to be here with you today.

PEGGY: And happy anniversary.

BISHOP MITCH: Well, thank you very much. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already.

PEGGY: I know. And I remember when you had just come here, about a year ago, I said to you, “My, you’re quite popular.” And you jokingly said, “Until I make a decision.” Now, your goal isn’t necessarily a popularity contest but you have had some big decisions this year. Tell us about them.

BISHOP MITCH: Well, when I arrived in the diocese I was briefed on so many issues and one of them certainly was the rebuilding of Cathedral High School. And I knew that we had to take a look at not only the rebuilding of Cathedral High School but really, eventually, the whole Catholic education system, here in the Diocese of Springfield. But the presenting issue when I got here was the rebuilding of Cathedral High School and it needed really to be looked at from a perspective of long range. The enrollment had been declining, certainly. And the facility that would be built would be a huge investment by the diocese, perhaps the largest investment the diocese had ever made. So I knew that was a decision that could not be done in a vacuum. It had to be done with great consultation, with talking with the different groups. I knew that people would be upset about it, certainly because there had been expectations that had been set. But it still needed to be done.


And leadership does not mean going along with the flow. Many who are parents in families know that they have to make decisions for the family that are sometimes unpopular but yet they’re the best decisions that have to be made in the interest of everybody. So I felt that this needed to be a process that had to look at the total situation, take in all of the considerations, and then decisions made from there. So I was glad that we had the time to do that. Over the year, the taking down, the demolition of what was left of Cathedral High School, was taking place so nothing could be done until that had happened. So I knew we had that time to do it. So that was really one of the major decisions that I’ve had to make this year.

PEGGY: Right, but you also made a couple of big deals in the sense that you’ve hired a youth minister and you’ve decided about promoting evangelization. Please tell us a little bit more about that?


BISHOP MITCH: Sure. Well, when I arrived here, a series of letters that I received was of the concern for youth ministry in the diocese and the support for the parishes of youth ministers there, coming from the diocesan office. So through a gift that was given to the diocese in a bequest, we were able to put that money toward an endowment for youth ministry. So I was very happy, I was very grateful for that endowment that was given to the diocese and that it gave us the opportunity to reopen the office of youth ministry to have someone there who could be a resource person for youth ministry in the parishes. I felt that it’s very, very important, especially in today’s day and age. (Gina Czerwinski, pictured above, is the new director of youth ministry for the diocese.)

And in the evangelization efforts, I knew that as I traveled throughout the diocese there were people who were either disaffected by the church or had stopped practicing their faith. So again, not only characteristic of the Diocese of Springfield, but I think really of dioceses around the country, there are many who have stopped practicing their faith whom we want to invite back. We want to say welcome, we are the church, we are here to support you. We are here to live the gospel, please come back. So this coming year, and coincidentally with the Year of Mercy, it seems an appropriate time to have this effort of evangelization. So I’m looking forward to that. It’s a very positive way of presenting our faith and a positive way of living our faith.

This is the logo for the Holy Year of Mercy, which opens Dec. 8 and runs until Nov. 20, 2016. (CNS/courtesy of Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization) See JUBILEE-MERCY May 5, 2015.

This is the logo for the Holy Year of Mercy, which opens Dec. 8 and runs until Nov. 20, 2016.

PEGGY: Wonderful. Now you also said in your first year you also wanted to visit as many parishes as possible. How’s that going? How many have you been to?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I think I’ve been to about 60 to 65 of the parishes in one form or another, either for Sunday Mass or for Confirmation or for different events that have taken place at the parish. So I still have a few more to cover, but it’s been a good year being able to just get out to see so many of the parishes, to meet the people of the parishes, the priests, the deacons, the religious who work in the parishes and the parish staffs — seeing very dedicated, dedicated people at work. And to know it’s a boost to me to see the enthusiasm of my co-workers in the parish and of the enthusiasm of parishioners in our parishes too.


PEGGY: And now this fall you hope to visit them in a different way. Do you want to explain that program?

BISHOP MITCH: Sure. It’s a pastoral visit that will take a good chunk of time – a day or two to be spent at the parish to meet with the pastor, the parish staff, with the different lay groups of the parish, the pastoral council, any of the groups that make, indeed the parish a community of vibrancy –  to meet with them. And after that we will  give back to the parish our feedback of commendations and of recommendations asking the parish to take, the feedback in terms of a report, to roll that report into their planning for the future.

And a team will go with me to look at the different aspects of the parish: education, schools, youth ministry, any of the ministry to those who are homebound, the total, overall ministries of the parish. I’m looking forward to getting to know our parishes much better through that series of parish visits. Now because it takes so much time, I will probably visit two parishes a month beginning this fall because there has to be the preparation, the day of the parish visit or the two days of the parish visit and the follow-up work in terms of the report that is given back to the parish. So I won’t cover all the parishes this first year, my second year,  but I hope to get around during my time here to each one of the parishes for an extended pastoral visit.

PEGGY:  How many miles do you put on your car?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, western Massachusetts is a very compact area and the furthest parish from Springfield is only an hour and a half drive. So compared to western Maryland where I had a three and a half hour drive, the furthest parish out, I’m saving some miles on my car.  I look at it that way. But I do put a lot of miles on the car each year and that’s good. It’s good to be out and about.


PEGGY:  And I know you are out and about because I follow you on Facebook at Bishop Mitch. And tell us about that ministry. And first of all, are you going to expand to Twitter or stick with Facebook for now?

BISHOP MITCH: We’re certainly finding Facebook to be a good way to get the word out, getting the gospel message out. But perhaps in the future we can look at Twitter to see if we can do that too.

PEGGY: And what made you decide to go to the social media, to cast our nets out into cyberspace as bishops have said. (Bishop Mitch has a Facebook page with almost 1,000 followers.)

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I think that St. Paul, when he went around in his journeys, certainly used the different thoughts of his day and the different devices of his day to be able to get out the gospel message. And I think the church, too, has to use the various means that are available to us, social media, to get out the message. One of the greatest men who had insight into the media and the gospel message was Archbishop Fulton Sheen. And I think he kind of set the tone to say, don’t be afraid of this modern media. He was not afraid to step in front of the camera and get the gospel message out. And I think we all have to be aware and adept at trying to get the gospel message out through social media.

PEGGY:  Do you remember his chalkboard talks and his cape?

BISHOP MITCH: Yes, and his little JMJ that he’d put up on the board before he did every talk and the angel that erased all of his writings up there when they needed to be erased.

PEGGY: He was amazing!  So Bishop do you take a day off?

BISHOP MITCH: I try to. Sometimes I’m more successful at it than other times.

And what I’ve been doing here, in western Massachusetts, is during my day off is trying to explore different areas of the diocese to get out to see different sights and different things in the diocese here, so I’ve been doing that. I’ve been doing some reading, catching up on that and also I must admit on my day off sometimes I take time for my work with the ecumenical and inter-religious affairs committee.


PEGGY: And do you go on a vacation?

BISHOP MITCH: I do try to get away once in a while. I have been back to Baltimore to visit my family and friends down there so that’s been good. But I do feel as though  I am home here in western Massachusetts. So getting away is good but I am always ready to come back.

PEGGY: Oh, that’s a nice thing. Now have you made any new discoveries, like, “Oh, I love the hamburgers here or I love this bookstore or I love this nature site.”Are you an outdoorsy person or more into bookstores or what?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I enjoy the beauty of nature of western Massachusetts, and even in the midst of this past winter, which we know everybody told me was unusual and that we never have this much snow and this much cold. I do enjoy even winter’s stark beauty so it’s been good to get out and about and around and to be able to see some of the sights here. I’ve been able to visit the Clark Museum.  I’ve been to the Fort Restaurant after that had reopened so that’s been a good thing and a few other places around in our area.

PEGGY: There’s a lot to see and a lot to do in our area. And I’m sure you get lots of recommendations, right?

BISHOP MITCH: I do. Lots of people tell me different things. And certainly what I am looking forward to and experienced last year within the first month of my arrival and installation is the Big E. So I enjoy going over to the Big E and walking around — seeing the different sights there, meeting different people. Everybody had told me about it in the weeks leading up to it, and then the Mass that we celebrate at the Big E was wonderful.  So it’s just been a good experience of finding the different – both the large and the little favorite spots of western Massachusetts.

big e

PEGGY: And as you adjust here, what has surprised you the most? You know, “I’m not in Baltimore any more, I’m not in Maryland any more.” Has anything just made you think, “hmmm, this is different!”

BISHOP MITCH: I knew nothing about the diocese of Springfield when Archbishop Vigano (Apostolic Nuncio of United States of America) called and told me I would be the bishop of Springfield, I knew nothing about it. So everything is new. Everything to me is new. But I have noticed there were great parallels between western Massachusetts and western Maryland. They had many of the same issues I faced as the vicar bishop, the auxiliary bishop, in western Maryland, I’m finding here, as in western Maryland, that industries that had closed down that had really been the lifeblood of the communities  for many decades. I found that in western Maryland that it had occurred and that it also had occurred here in western Massachusetts. The declining population happened in western Maryland and again I find it in western Massachusetts.  I guess what I was really surprised about was the parallels between those two places — western Maryland and western Massachusetts. They are both very, very beautiful in the scenery, in nature and in lots of possibilities. And it’s good to see that those possibilities are being worked on here in western Massachusetts.

Peggy and Bishop Mitch walked around St. Michael’s Cathedral as part of the interview.

me and bish

PEGGY: Well bishop we’ve returned to the scene of the crime, more or less.  You were installed here about a year ago. What were you thinking then and what are you thinking now?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, Peggy, when I was a newly-ordained priest and getting my first assignment, I never knew what I was getting into.  I didn’t know where I was going to be assigned. However, any assignment that I’ve had in a parish — and then kind of the surprise assignment of being asked to be auxiliary bishop of Baltimore — and then being asked to be bishop of Springfield, I just felt though it wasn’t of my own making that it was God’s making. This is what God wants, and let’s do the best. He’s confident in my gifts if he’s asked me to do this — to put my gifts to the best of my ability. So I was thinking that here I bring my experience. I thanked God that I had ten years as an auxiliary bishop in Baltimore so I felt as though I was well-prepared to be ordinary of the diocese and it was God’s will. It’s God’s way, and let’s do it.

PEGGY: And now?

BISHOP MITCH: I feel as though God’s grace has really gotten me through the past year. I tried to take this first year as much as I could to listen, to learn, and as we spoke about this, to visit the many parishes,  the many institutions of the diocese. I feel as though with one year down, I’ve learned a lot and hopefully people have gotten to learn a lot about me, and let’s move forward. We’ve got lots of the Lord’s work to do and let’s do it.

pro life

PEGGY: Bishop, what do you want people to know about you. You communicate a public face. You’re spiritual and you’re here to lead us and I don’t think that anyone wouldn’t think you are earnest. But how would you want people to see you and what do you want people to understand about you?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I think that first of all I am sort of an extrovert so I don’t like to be tied to the office. I feel very drained if I have to spend a significant amount of time in the office on administrative things. I like to be out amongst the people and so I think that’s one aspect of my ministry that really gives me energy — being out and amongst the people and in parishes and being able to do that. The administrative side of it is not my forte. At least I can say I can do it but it doesn’t energize me. I really enjoy being out.

I do miss still, even after 11 years as a bishop, I do miss being a parish priest. I was 20 years a parish priest before I was ordained a bishop and I loved parish priesthood. I knew that God had called me to the right vocation as soon as I got to my first parish assignment. There was just something in parish priesthood that gives me great energy and I felt very, very fulfilled in my priestly vocation.

So it was told to me that when you’re asked to serve in leadership positions in the church that it is a challenge of love — to see how much you are willing to sacrifice even more for the church. And becoming bishop has I think really tested my depth of love for the church because it took me out of parish priesthood but we have to be open to the call that God gives to us. What I’ve been amazed at is the grace that I’ve received in being able to be a bishop and especially the grace of this past year of being here in the Diocese of Springfield. So, I’m a people person, administrative work is not my forte, I can do it but I’d rather be out and about.

st. anthony
PEGGY: And do your parents monitor what’s going on here? Do they call you up and say, “Mitch, what’s going on?” Or  do they ask, “How are  you doing honey?”
BISHOP MITCH: Well, we keep in touch regularly. I talk with them at least 3 or 4 times a week to see what’s going on in their household and they ask what’s going on up here. So it’s good to do that. So they’re keeping up with my life here and I like to keep them in the loop on that.

PEGGY: So bishop tell us about how you will be heading to all three cities where the pope is going to be in September.

BISHOP MITCH: Yes, the holy father is coming to Washington, D.C., .where he will first meet with the bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and then we will have Mass on the side of the National Shrine where he will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the great missionary of the western part of the United States. He will speak also to Congress and then he will move to New York  City. And in New York he will have Mass at Madison Square Garden. But there’s also an ecumenical and interfaith service that will be held at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center. So I will be there for that part of the visit, at the prayer service and then of course to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. And we will have that wonderful, wonderful Mass that will be celebrated on the front steps of the museum — which might be very familiar to people there. It’s the site where Rocky Balboa ran up and down the steps. And that’s where the papal mass will be held.


PEGGY:  So you won’t run up the steps and wave the papal flag, will you?

BISHOP MITCH:  (with a smile) I hope not. I hope I will be concelebrating at that Mass.

PEGGY: With our busloads of pilgrims at the Mass

BISHOP MITCH: With our six busloads, I believe that many are coming from the diocese so it’s wonderful to know so many are going to be coming down there — very hearty pilgrims.

PEGGY: Say hi to Pope Francis for me, will you?

BISHOP MITCH: Certainly. I will, indeed, thank you.

PEGGY: Now in addition to all the work you have here, which is a lot, everyone wants your ear, everyone has something to say, or mails you a letter. You also do work with the interfaith and ecumenical council with the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).  You’re the chair. So tell us about that work.

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I began my term in November. Actually the November after I was installed here — my term officially began. And one of the highlights of this past year of being the chair of ecumenical and inter-religious affairs was the conference that was held at Catholic University on the document of Vatican II called Nostra Aetate  — “In our time.”  It’s one of the shortest documents of Vatican II but it has far-reaching implications. And the Nostra Aetate conference involved a gathering of leaders of Jewish groups, and leaders of Muslim groups and reflecting on how the past 50 years has really brought us closer together in our collaboration and our working for the common good.

Layout 1

And Nostra Aetate really opened that up for us and the reason that we have the office of ecumenical and inter-religious affairs is because of the decree Nostra Aetate. So that’s been a highlight of it. I’ve been working with Christian churches —  African American churches, protestant churches, mainline protestant churches, evangelical protestant churches — orthodox and catholic on the issues that unite us in our country. So that’s been a very rich and rewarding experience. Again, something I never would have expected to be doing as a bishop but the opportunity has presented itself and I find that opportunity to be very enriching.

PEGGY:  It’s so needed in this time when everyone just seems to be pitted against each other. I mean look at your own hometown of Baltimore, the violence last year, it seems like the hand of God or the love of God  is needed now more than ever among all people

BISHOP MITCH: Certainly and I think that in our ecumenical and our interfaith relations we really have to show the unity of people of faith — that people of faith are people of hope. They are people who build bridges between one another and build bridges to others too. So it’s very, very important and I think that Vatican II, the fathers of Vatican II, had a great insight into reaching out to other faiths and to other denominations and saying there are things that divide us, certainly, we cannot deny them, but there are other things that unite us and in those things that unite us, we need to reach out as people of faith.

PEGGY: Now, when you look back, you did a lot this year. What are your goals for next year?

BISHOP MITCH: First of all I think the parish visits are going to be an important part of my ministry here for next year. Certainly,the evangelization effort of our diocese is going to be a prime goal. Looking at Catholic education as a total system in the Diocese of Springfield needs to be done. So I think I’ll have a lot on my plate for not only next year but for all of the upcoming years as bishop of Springfield.

PEGGY: Any personal goals?

BISHOP MITCH: My personal goal is to be able to — in all the busyness of life —  to be able to have that time, to preserve that time for prayer and to make sure that as I am taking care of the spiritual needs of others that I also deepen my relationship with the Lord. It is important because that is not only a personal goal, it is an example for everyone and I feel that it’s a very, very important part of being a bishop.

PEGGY: So are you one of these people that are up at 6 a.m. and to bed at midnight.? Do you get enough rest? What’s your day like?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, I’m up early, I’m up early for prayer and for daily Mass. And then breakfast, certainly to get some energy for the morning and depending upon what was on the calendar sometimes the mornings or the afternoons can be out of the office. Sometimes I need to be in the office. But I find that if I can balance my day amongst prayer and meditation, being out and visiting amongst people, and doing my administrative work, at the end of the day, I feel pretty fulfilled.

PEGGY: That’s good and I hope you take some time for yourself just to read or take a walk or anything like that.

BISHOP MITCH: I do, I try. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes, I’m not. That’s all part of life.

PEGGY: Do you have five year goals? Are you looking that far ahead?

BISHOP MITCH: Well,  as I’m looking at the diocese and working with the different collaborative groups, for example the clergy commission, the presbyteral council, the finance council — certainly there are goals that are immediate that we mentioned,. They are: evangelization, education, the Year of Mercy in collaboration with Pope Francis calling for that year of mercy beginning on December the 8th. But I think that in working with those goals that they will certainly broaden out to long term goals in the future. I think that some of what’s on my plate — while I will get to them very soon — will not just be a year but rather a few years out. And then as I work with them, I think that other goals for the long term will become clearer.


PEGGY: Of course we forgot to mention that next year you will be traveling to Poland, right?
BISHOP MITCH: For World Youth Day, yes, I’m looking forward to it. I have visited Poland twice already, and I’m looking forward to going back. The faith of the people there is just so inspiring. And I know World Youth Day, planning with Pope Francis being there, please God, will just be a wonderful, wonderful celebration of our Catholic  faith and a very, very dedicated country where the people of Poland are so dedicated to our Catholic faith.

PEGGY: Right and it will be a chance for the young people of the diocese to just sort of hang out with you and get to know you better.

BISHOP MITCH: Certainly, and bishops from all over this country will be there also. So there will be times for catechesis, times for prayer, times for dialogue, and then again the highlight of World Youth Day will be the visit of Pope Francis to Krakow.

PEGGY: Congratulations, again on your anniversary. Is there anything that you would like to add? Anything I haven’t asked you or that you want to say?

BISHOP MITCH: Well, yes, I just want to express the deep sense of gratitude that I have to the priests, the deacons, the religious men and women and the laity of the Diocese of Springfield. I was a stranger when I came into your midst but you’ve accepted me and you’ve all worked with me and collaborated with me and supported me and I am just so grateful for all of that. And I especially want to single out Bishop Tim McDonnell, who from the very day he met me at the airport, was so welcoming and has been available to me for his counsel and his insights too. So I feel very, very supported here in ministry as bishop and I’m grateful for all that support.

PEGGY: Well, thanks a lot bishop and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We wish you “ad multos annos,”  many more years.

BISHOP MITCH: Thank you, toward many years,(translation of ad multos annos) indeed! Thank you so much, Peggy, and thanks for taking the time to be with me  today.

PEGGY: Glad to do it. Thanks,  bishop!

BISHOP MITCH: Thank you.