New Auxiliary Bishop Welcomed to St. John the Evangelist in Twin Lakes
by Karen Mahoney
Mingling among English and Spanish speaking parishioners from parishes throughout Racine, Kenosha and Walworth Counties, newly ordained Bishop William Callahan delivered a message of inclusion Wednesday evening to church filled with Catholics from all walks of life—and asked for their prayers as a newcomer himself.
“We all have different places we come from, and we come here to see where God leads us,” Callahan told parishioners at St. John The Evangelist Parish in Twin lakes. “We all belong to the family of God.”
The Mass of Welcoming was part of Callahan’s get-acquainted tour of the Milwaukee Archdiocese since becoming ordained an Auxiliary Bishop on December 21 at the Cathedral of St. John in Milwaukee. The appointment was made by Pope Benedict XVI and announced in Rome, October 30.
Auxiliary Bishops serve the Church by helping a diocesan bishop in the pastoral and spiritual leadership of a diocese. They assist the diocesan bishop in his role as shepherd--teaching, leading, serving, and celebrating the sacraments with the people of the diocese.
The 57 year-old-bishop is a Conventual Franciscan of the St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago. A native of Chicago, Callahan has served in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Josaphat Parish from 1977 to 1978, and again as rector and pastor of St. Josaphat Parish, from 1994 to 2005. Callahan left the parish in 2005 to serve as Spiritual Director for the Pontifical North American College, the seminary for Americans, in Rome.
Callahan has been described as a roll-up-the-sleeves leader, one who not only visits ill and elderly parishioners, but takes an active role in church renovation—to the point of climbing the scaffolding during the remodeling of St. Josaphat, “to see the same view that God would see,” to redecorating the sanctuary after the decoration team left for the night, to cooling off in a parishioner’s pool.
“He and the other priests and nuns used to come to my grandma’s house when I was a kid and went to Holy Family Parish in Peoria, Il,” stated Kelly Regnier, now of Holy Name in Wilmot. “He was always a regular guy, very genuine and caring and a wonderful leader. He will bring great enthusiasm to the diocese—I have known many priests, but never one like him.”
In his Homily, Callahan praised the new “Living Our Faith” initiative designed to inspire Catholics to grow in their faith, encourage more active participation and to create a sense of connectedness among parishes.
“We all come from everywhere and represent all aspects of ‘Living our Faith,’” he said. “But do you know the tagline of the program? It is ‘A love beyond belief-act on it.’ I know you have all come here to see the baby-Bishop, but hopefully you really came here to celebrate Eucharist. You have all been through thick and thin with the weather last week, but thanks be to God, no lives were lost—but you were rearranged and affected. But we still come here tonight and Jesus is the reason to gather us.”
A member of St. John the Evangelist, Mieczy Slawa appreciated the Bishop’s message and is optimistic for future visits to the Twin Lakes Parish.
“I like the new bishop, he is very nice,” she said, “I am not surprised at all that the came here because he is very nice and friendly, just like everyone else in this diocese.”
Callahan promised to do all he could to support priests and encouraged parishioners to pray for an increase in vocations to all walks of religious life.
“Please pray for all vocations—all of us have a vocation,” he said. “And it is to live our faith.”