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!