The diocese continued its warm embrace of Most Rev. Robert J. McClory as the fifth bishop of Gary through a series of welcome Masses scheduled in each of the four deaneries for the faithful to gather in worship and fellowship.
In addition to visiting many parishes, schools and community organizations, the bishop celebrated welcome Masses at St. James in Highland, Sacred Heart in LaPorte, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammond, St. Paul in Valparaiso and Our Lady of Guadalupe in East Chicago.
In his homilies, Bishop McClory shared the meaning behind his episcopal motto. “The (episcopal) motto I chose is ‘We proclaim Jesus as our Lord,’ and that’s what we are about,” said Bishop McClory in a homily. “The continuance of that Scripture passage in 2 Corinthians is, “And ourselves as your servants for the sake of Jesus.”
He continued, “We say, ‘Yes, you are Lord, Jesus, and because of that, I am going to serve others; because of that, I share your good news and because of that, I let them know the joy that I have.’
“We know there’s a God that loves us and it changes everything. That’s the hope that’s going to radiate through our four counties. That’s the hope that’s going to transform hearts…and renew people. That’s going to be the seedbed of evangelization.”
In his visits, Bishop McClory encouraged all to use the season of Lent as an opportunity to renew their prayer life and service to others. In reflecting on the three main types of prayer in his homily, he illustrated how each form of prayer –– praise, petition and penance –– can draw us closer to God, our Father.
In closing, he shared two personal inspirations. Blessed Solanus Casey was known for his profound trust in the Lord and for “Thanking God ahead of time.” Bishop McClory’s father, when asked for his blessing, would share a simple but all-encompassing prayer: “I pray God will meet your every need.”
Most locations offered the faithful an opportunity to meet the bishop after Mass.
Dina Barron of St. Thomas More in Munster felt a sense of familiarity with Bishop McClory, who was born and raised in Detroit. “I think Bishop McClory is wonderful,” Barron said. “My husband is a Detroit boy, and so I was very excited when they chose (a future bishop) from an industrial area.”
The busy mother of six said she hopes the bishop will put a focus on young Catholics. “I would like to see an emphasis on youth ministry,” she said. “(Youths) want to do something real; I think they need to be involved in service projects.”
Parishioners, both young and old, spoke of their personal prayers for the new shepherd.
Emma Padilla, 13, of Highland, volunteered to be an altar server for the welcome Mass held at St. James. “I hope the bishop brings positive energy and an inviting (voice) to help bring more people to our parishes,” Emma said.
“Bishop McClory is truly a gift,” said Cathie Dull, parishioner and founder of the middle school youth ministry “EDGE” retreat at St. Paul, Valparaiso. “The youth really responded to the way he personally connected his faith story with them through his coat of arms. His presentation inspired the middle school youth to personally think about how their life connects to their own faith. His desire to visit with them and his ability to inspire them so quickly speaks volumes to the kind of shepherd he will be for our diocese.”
Queen of All Saints (Michigan City) Principal Marie Arter said Catholic school administrators see the bishop as a partner in education. “If Bishop McClory continues to tell the story of our Catholic schools and the good work we are doing, that would be fantastic,” Arter said. “Catholic schools develop the whole child.”
Matt Kresich, Young Catholics Coordinator for Holy Name in Cedar Lake, described Bishop McClory’s presence as warm and that “he’s great at making you feel comfortable.” He was encouraged to know that youth and young adult ministry played such an important role in Bishop McClory’s life and looks forward to seeing how the bishop will collaborate with the great things already going on in the diocese and what new elements he will introduce.
Father Brian Chadwick, administrator of St. James and Our Lady of Grace in Highland, prays that, “Bishop McClory be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to guide us with wisdom and love.”
Deacon Michael Halas, master of ceremonies for the bishop, noted, “It is an honor to assist with liturgical celebration, and observe the many people from our diocese who welcome Bishop McClory with such joy. There is so much excitement in the air!” Deacon Halas accompanied the bishop in his travels to all four counties. “You can see the joy in his face as well,” remarked Deacon Halas, “You can see it in their faces, the love between bishop and the people.”
Alfredo Flores, second year director of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammond, is looking forward to life with our new bishop. “I ‘thank God ahead of time’ for what our bishop is going to do,” said Flores. “Listening to him talking about Gary makes me hopeful for our diocese. I can feel the love he has, and listening to him say a few words in Spanish makes me thankful to have a shepherd willing to meet his flock where they are at, in their language. Might not seem like a lot to some, but now a days seeing someone genuinely reach out to the Latino community and (say) ‘I’m here’ and ‘How can I help?’ means a lot.”