Following Jesus in Lent

Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Mark 2: 13-17)

Today begins our journey through Lent to the Cross on Calvary. The Scripture passage above depicts our Lord calling Levi (Matthew) from his post at the tax collector's table to "come follow me." Imagine what it was like for Matthew to be challenged to take a different course in life and meet the Lord. Labeled as a sinner by others, he was now asked to be an example for them and for us.

We are now asked to follow Jesus -- to leave our sinfulness behind and experience of the Father's forgiveness. Like Matthew, may we take ownership of our wrong doings and walk the other road, the one less traveled.


Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord

On June 6, 1992 at the Cathedral of Saint Catharine of Siena, I stood before Bishop Welsh and pledged my life to the Church of God as a priest for the Diocese of Allentown. Today, I mourn with many others the passing of this priest of God. While I could give you a litany of his accomplishments, I would rather speak of the man whom I knew to be a caring and gentle servant of the people of God.

In my almost seventeen years of priesthood, there was never a time when Bishop Welsh was not willing to help in any way if he could. In one of my recent assignments, I remember calling upon him to teach a topic one night for RCIA. He chose the Priesthood. With just a few candidates in the room with the RCIA team he spoke from a couple of sheets of notes that had been yellowed from their use many years earlier. He referred very little to them, but still captured the attention of those in the room with his years of wisdom and humor. One could not go away from that night without thinking how he desired to be something other than that which God chose him to be. What I mean is that he never wished to have the mitre and the awesome responsibility that come with the position of being the chief shepherd of a diocese. Rather, you could tell that he wanted to be a simple priest, a servant of the faithful.

In that evening he recounted how he was placed in administrative roles where he felt somewhat mismatched and longed for his own parish community to serve. He also talked about how he did not enjoy making some decisions in his years of being a bishop and hoped that the faithful of the diocese would remember him in a positive way.

In short, one could say that Bishop Thomas J. Welsh was a humble and pastoral bishop with a love for the Eucharist, Our Blessed Mother, the priesthood and the people of God. Now, that is a legacy!

Bishop Welsh, may you rest in the peace of Christ!