Happy Birthday! On Friday October 7th, the feast of the Holy Rosary you (we) will be 64 years old. (We don’t look a day over 39.) On October 7, 1958, Pope Pius XII established the diocese of Miami. Actually, it was a cou¬ple of months earlier but the official date was October 7th. Only two days after that, on October 9th, the Lord took him home.
Archbishop Joseph Hurley was the bishop of St. Augustine, which then included the whole state of Florida except for a few counties in the panhandle. He was an Archbishop because he had been a Vatican diplomat. I never tire of telling the story that he attended the trial of Cardinal Stepinac in Tito’s Yugoslavia after WWII. When the judges entered all rose except Hurley. When they brought in Cardinal Stepinac, only Hurley stood.
As a kid, I knew Archbishop Hurley. I was a server for Archbishop Hurley when he would say Mass in the convent at Holy Family in North Miami. Nothing like getting out of class!
What was neat for a twelve-year old kid was the Archbishop’s ability to remember names. I got a big thrill when he remembered mine. I just discovered a book from Yale University Press about Pius XII and Archbishop Hurley and all the intrigue that followed WWII and the rise of communism.
When the split of Florida came in 1958, I had just begun seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut. One day I got a call from the rector to come to the front office, and there was Archbishop Hurley. He would visit the seminaries where he had students, and Tom Engbers and I were at St. Thomas. “Well, Jimmy. How are you doing?” Talk about a swelled head. And by then, he was actually not my bishop.
Speaking of special occasions, today marks the 12th anniversary of Archbishop Tom Wenski’s visit to St. Sebastian to install me as your pastor. If today were not Sunday, we would be celebrating the feast of the Guardian Angels. What makes it more interesting for me is that the appointment letter was dated September 29th which is the feast day of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. Talk about being surrounded by the sound of angel wings...
The two feasts were important to me because they were the same dates on which I was appointed and installed by Archbishop Edward McCarthy to my previous pastorate of 28 years. I really had not expected to come here 12 years ago.
I’ve told you the story about getting the call from Archbishop Wenski about the reassignment. The first thing I said was, “I guess I always expected to die in St. Louis parish.” His immediate response was, “Well, maybe now you won’t die so quickly.” Obviously, I haven’t died yet and these 12 years have been very happy ones.
The truth is, most of the time you don’t know what is coming next. I’m starting to write this Twitch on the 26th, last Monday. I can’t help but wonder what we will be looking back upon by the time you read this. Where will Ian have gone? Even as I am grateful for not getting a direct hit, I pray that much harder for the folk on the west side of our state. To be continued...
Wow... Now it’s Thursday night. I’m simply not able to express how affected I have been, along with all of you I am sure, with the saga of Hurricane Ian. All I have been able to do is pray that the people on our west coast can rebuild. I have been looking for ways to help. It’s going to take so much more than money, but for the moment money is one place to start.
We will talk about this more in the future. In the meantime, we pray for the fractured hearts and landscapes.