jeudi, avril 10, 2008

A new Bishop for Little Rock

Bishop-Elect Anthony B. Taylor Statement
on Being Named Seventh Bishop of Little Rock

The following statement was given by Bishop-Elect Taylor during the press conference April 10 to announce he is the next bishop of Little Rock.

When Archbishop Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States, called me on March 18 to tell me that the pope had chosen me to be bishop of Little Rock, I was stunned speechless. I heard all the words but they didn't register at first.
Nothing could have been further from my mind and my first words were: Oh my gosh! It was like one of those near-death experiences, all my life flashed before my eyes. And then my next thought was: What will happen to my parish?
The Pope apparently needs a clearer response than: Oh my gosh! so Archbishop Sambi pressed a little further, asking: How do you feel about this? And all I could think of was: humbled. Humbled by the trust the Lord is placing in me, humbled by the confidence everyone who has had a hand in choosing me to be the next bishop of Little Rock, humbled by the scope of this new calling which is far greater than anything I have ever done before, humbled by my own inner conviction that when the Lord calls the only answer that a faithful servant can give is: "Yes Lord, I will do whatever you ask."
Every bishop traditionally comes up with a coat of arms and a motto, and I have taken my motto from Psalm 37:11 which Jesus quotes in Matthew 5:5 as one of the Beatitudes: "The Humble Shall Inherit the Earth." But there is a problem in that the word translated as humble is different from humble as we usually think of it -- a humble or timid attitude.
In Psalm 37:11 the underlying Hebrew word is Anawim, meaning those of humble circumstances: the poor, the oppressed. Those of humble circumstances will inherit the earth. Jesus' preferential love of the poor and marginalized was courageous, not timid, and so also must we be if we are to be his faithful servants. Not to the exclusion of anyone else but in recognition that those with the greatest need have the greatest claim on us.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 40 years ago this month and on the day of his death God gave me an insight that helped me eventually hear his call to the priesthood. I was 14 at the time.
The insight was this: being a faithful Christian requires more than just saying prayers, obeying the Commandments and trying to get your own soul into heaven. If you're only interested in your own spiritual welfare in the next life, you don't really believe in the redemptive power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther King taught me that being a faithful Christian required that I do whatever I could to help build the Kingdom of God here and now, and that to do so would require courage not timidity, fear of God not fear of man. If you don't align yourself with the Kingdom of God in this life, how do you expect to be admitted into the Kingdom of God in the next?
And who are the people of humble circumstances of the Diocese of Little Rock?
Probably the same people whom I have served for over 27 years as a priest in Oklahoma, the same people whom my inspiring predecessors have served here in Arkansas in the past.
Bishop Byrne who ministered to Arkansas Catholics living in the most humble circumstances imaginable.
Bishop Fitzgerald who rebuilt the Church following the disastrous Civil war by recruiting sisters and encouraging immigration.
Bishop Morris who established schools for disadvantaged boys and troubled girls.
Bishop Fletcher who integrated all the Catholic hospitals and schools in Arkansas and publicly rebuked the governor for trying to block the desegregation of Central High School in 1957.
Bishop McDonald and his work on behalf of organized charities and his forceful defense of the sanctity of life.
Bishop Sartain's efforts to reach out to Hispanic immigrants and his call for immigration reform that respects human dignity.
All six of my predecessors reached out to the humble of their day, the people of humble circumstances of their day with special love and commitment, as have thousands of other faithful Arkansas Catholics over the last 165 years -- clergy and laity, sisters and monks.
And I pray to God that the Lord will make me as good a shepherd for the Church and people of Arkansas as those on whose shoulders I now stand.

Bishop-elect Anthony Taylor

Diocesan Administrator's Statement
Seventh Bishop Named for Little Rock

The following statement was given by Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert during the press conference April 10 to announce Father Anthony B. Taylor as the next bishop of Little Rock.

This is truly the day the Lord has made. We rejoice and are glad in it. This day is about Jesus Christ and all who live within him.
It is about Jesus giving his apostles the power to teach, rule and sanctify. It is about apostolic succession. It is about the fullness of the priesthood possessed by the bishop of a diocese.
The Diocese of Little Rock was established 165 years ago. During that time we have had only six bishops, an average of almost 28 years per bishop, even though Bishop Sartain, our last ordinary, served here only six years.
Today Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the seventh bishop of Little Rock, Bishop-elect Anthony B. Taylor. “Good things come to those who wait.” Bishop Taylor is tailor-made by God for our diocese. With a doctorate in Scripture, he will proclaim the Word with authority.
Educated at the North American College in Rome, he received the best of education in Dogmatic and Moral theology. Fluent in Spanish, he has the capabilities to be a true shepherd to all Catholics in the diocese. Having chaired almost all of the boards of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma dealing with the clergy, he is knowledgeable about the concerns of his priests.
Having chaired the diaconate formation process, he will be invaluable to the new formation program we have just begun. His many other qualities and experiences as a priest make him the perfect choice as bishop for our diocese.
Bishop Taylor the laity, religious, and priest of diocese welcome you with grateful and loving hearts.

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