On the Feast of the Archangels (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, patron of the Diocese of Madison), the angels must have been smiling down on Bishop William H. Bullock during his Golden Jubilee celebration, for it was a truly festive occasion.
The Sept. 29 celebration marked Bullock's 50 years as priest, 22 years as bishop, and nine years as bishop of Madison.
More than 600 people filled St. Raphael Cathedral for a beautiful Mass at which Bullock was the main celebrant. Concelebrants included Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee, Auxiliary Bishop George O. Wirz, 33 archbishops and bishops from 11 states, and 168 priests from the Diocese of Madison and family and friends of Bullock.
"As we gather on the Feast of the Archangels, I am delighted to gather with other bishops, priests, family and friends, and representatives of the church to praise God and celebrate my 50th anniversary, 22 years as bishop, and nine years as bishop of Madison," said Bullock.
Gather in prayer
Msgr. Paul J. Swain, vicar general, was the homilist.
"Bishop Bullock has wished his episcopal motto, grace, mercy and peace on all whose lives he has touched, including mine," said Swain.
"Today we gather around our bishop in prayer, in thanksgiving and in remembrance," he said.
He spoke of the rites of ordination and how the Gospel, the Holy Eucharist, and the Church of God are placed in the hands of the ordained.
"To care for them well requires faithful witness, hope-filled discipleship, and a healing presence. To be a faithful witness, one must have something or rather someone to whom to be faithful," Swain said. "Once that personal acceptance of who our Lord is permeates our hearts, it must be expressed in action. Jesus gave us the Church as a primary instrument for such witness."
Proclaiming the Gospel
Swain said when he served as priest secretary to Bishop Bullock during his first year in Madison, he learned much about the Catholic Church "and what it means to be a man of the church."
He talked about forces in the world that dispute, deny, or denigrate the Gospel and can lead people astray. "Violence, poverty, racism, war all must be challenged if the ordination charges are to be fulfilled," said Swain.
"Called by God who knew him on a farm in Minnesota, Bishop Bullock has challenged the culture from the pulpit, in his weekly column, and in every forum available," he said. "He has worked tirelessly, often as a lonely voice, to assure that life is protected from conception to natural death, and that Catholic identity is more than a book cover, but rather an expression of whose we are and whose teachings we must live out. A faithful witness boldly proclaims the Gospel."
Man of spirituality
"How does a bishop, or anyone, keep spirits up in the light of sickness and scandal, shortage and rejection?" Swain asked. It is through prayer and the Holy Eucharist, he said.
"Bishop Bullock is a man of deep spirituality and of the Eucharist," he said. "Grounded in prayer and daily Eucharist, only a man of hope could have said yes when at the age of 66 he was asked to pick up and move to Madison, where he knew few people, and was immediately expected to assume a leader's role.
"Only a man of hope, undeterred by snowstorms and threatened tornados, could visit all churches in all parishes in the diocese, including those without running water."
A good sense of humor helps too, said Swain. "Hope-filled discipleship, which recognizes that the Lord is always with us, gives hope to us all."
Inspired by witness
"As vicar general, I have been in the room when Bishop Bullock has dealt with those situations that only bishops face, and which because of confidentiality and sensitivity only those present know: ailing priests, hurting victims, grieving families," said Swain. "The aura of bishop gives way to caring priest leading others from despair to prayer, from turning in on themselves to reaching up to touch the healing love of God.
"Bishop, we are inspired by your faithful witness; uplifted by your hope-filled discipleship; and strengthened by your healing presence. The Gospel, the Holy Eucharist, the Church of God in part were placed in your hands 50, 22, and nine years ago. You have cared for them well, and touched us deeply in the process.
"May grace, mercy and peace be yours this happy day, and every day," he concluded.
The congregation applauded after Swain's homily.
A joyous Mass
During the General Intercessions, cantor Denise Boychuk Gorman prayed, "For the church, that, united with the angels and saints, we may proclaim Christ to the end of the world. For an abundance of ordained ministers in the church. For peace in Afghanistan, the Holy Land, and throughout the world. For world leaders, that they rule with justice and humility. For the sick and suffering, the addicted and abused. For Bishop Bullock, that Christ the Lord will give him the eternal reward of a good and faithful servant. For all who have died, that the angels may lead them to paradise."
With incense rising and music swelling throughout the cathedral, the Mass was a joyous one to be remembered.
Speakers express gratitude at Mass
After Communion at the jubilee Mass, several speakers offered their reflections.
Go into the deep
"Bishop, go into the deep and lower your nets for a catch," said Fr. John Hedrick, chair of the Diocese of Madison's Presbyteral Council.
The 2,000-year-old story is old and new, "for God continues to write," he said.
The deep is the unknown, the unfathomed, as well as the greatness and mercy of God, he said.
"The deep - it's the ocean of life, human life, and all life. The deep - it's love, it's God," he said.
"Go into the deep and lower your nets - give yourself, lose yourself in God; lower nets to gather God's good things for self and others. But lower nets to gather others to God, into the mystery of God," said Hedrick.
"Bishop, it is your story - hearing and answering God these many years, in early days and in later years, in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin. We can only imagine how each became a new dimension of the deep," he said.
"And here, for nine years (or more), in 11 counties, you go into the deep, to the people of every parish and church, but beyond, organizing, sometimes reorganizing, building - so that the work and the mission continues, beyond the moment, supporting and serving priests who with you lead God's gathered people.
"May we priests, now with you, and always with you in spirit, go into the deep and lower the nets.
"Bishop Bullock - thank you!"
The congregation applauded after Hedrick's remarks.
Bullock thanked Hedrick, who has been chair of the Presbyteral Council for seven of the nine years Bullock has been in Madison.
"Thank you for your wonderful and good leadership," he said.
In his remarks after Communion, Bullock said he was "full of gratitude to be here." He thanked the visiting archbishops and his fellow bishops for "making room in your schedules to be present and to participate in this Mass of Thanksgiving.
"To my fellow priests, my family, and my many friends who are here - I wish to express my deep love and my appreciation," said Bullock.
He noted that on June 3 of this year, the Feast of Corpus Christi, Auxiliary Bishop George O. Wirz of Madison celebrated his 50 years as a priest and this November he will also reach his 25th year of appointment as a bishop.
"I have learned in life that sometimes we speak louder by what we do not say than what we do," observed Bullock. "Thus I wish, as Bishop Wirz and I celebrate a combined century of priestly service to the church, to give a gift to Bishop Wirz. It is something I know he will treasure - a gold watch that has a Swiss movement, once owned and worn by our founding Bishop of Madison, Bishop William O'Connor.
"As I give you this gift, Bishop Wirz, in appreciation for your priestly and episcopal service, I remind you that it is an older type watch called a self-winding watch, so that if you yourself keep moving and wound up, you will always be on time."
Bullock gave a special welcome to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who one month and one day ago, was installed as Archbishop of Milwaukee. "For a bishop in the world today there are two kinds of authority," noted Bullock. "The first is what I call 'assigned' authority, that which comes with the appointment by our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. The second kind of authority is 'earned' authority, that which comes from being with your priests and people on their turf and from simply being present to them, listening to them, and teaching them."
To Dolan, Bullock said, "You are earning your authority in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. You are very present, you are seen and heard everywhere, and that's very good. In fact, in addition to your proper title, 'Your Excellency,' you are earning a new title, 'Your ubiquity.'"
In his remarks, Dolan began with humor, "Thanks for not saying, 'Your rotundity.'"
Dolan said he knew that Bullock came from Minnesota to Iowa to Wisconsin. "It's my honor to speak on behalf of your brother bishops of the Province of Wisconsin and all the bishops in offering heartfelt congratulations on your jubilee.
"Thanks for being a priest, a shepherd, a pastor in this diocese and in Wisconsin," said Dolan. "Thanks for your example of fidelity. We need that example today and we're deeply grateful for it."
Dolan added, "It ain't over yet! Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus said, 'Stay with us. We need you.' It might seem evening, but all of us say, 'Stay with us.'"
The congregation applauded Dolan's message.
Prayers for peace
After the archbishop's remarks, Bullock spoke on a serious note, saying, "We know we live in an age of terrorism and war, when, this very day, sabers rattle and swords are drawn in modern weapons of war turned toward Iraq. As Americans and as Catholics, our prayers are always for peace."
Bullock asked those present to look at the picture of the statue of Christ, the Prince of Peace, which was pictured in the booklet for the jubilee Mass. He then presented Dolan with a replica of that statue-crucifix, the larger version gracing the front lawn of the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison.
Bullock concluded, "I stand before you with deep gratitude and love. I stand before you appreciating all of you.
"Gratitude is at the heart of our journey, for if we are grateful, we give it all to God. It belongs completely to Christ."
The bishop said he had prepared two speeches for the day: one short and the other long. The short version was, "Thank you." The long version was, "Thank you very much."
The congregation responded with their "longer version," giving him several rounds of applause.
|Jump to: Top of page
|Fourth in a voter education series produced by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.|
Health care is a concern to Catholics as a moral issue, as employers who purchase health insurance for church employees, as providers of health care, and as consumers of health care services.
"Healthcare is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. We believe our people's healthcare should not depend on where they work, how much their parents earn, or where they live."
-- A Framework for Comprehensive Healthcare Reform, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1993
Although Wisconsin does better than most states in terms of such access, the goal of universal access to affordable health care remains unrealized. With the increasing costs of health care and the skyrocketing increases in health insurance, many Wisconsin citizens are experiencing a loss of coverage or decreased coverage.
But increasing cost and restricted access are not the only threats to health care services that are of concern to the church. Efforts to mandate health services and practices contrary to Catholic teaching threaten the right of conscience of Catholic health care providers and undermines the church's health care ministry in Wisconsin.
For all these reasons, health care is an important issue for Catholics in 2002.
In the encyclical Peace on Earth, Pope John XXIII identified medical care and security in times of sickness as basic human rights (# 11). The Catechism affirms that " . . . Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance" (#2288).
Access to health care for all people in the United States has been a policy goal of the U.S. Catholic Bishops since 1919.
As the U.S. Bishops stated in 1993, "Healthcare is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. We believe our people's healthcare should not depend on where they work, how much their parents earn, or where they live" (A Framework for Comprehensive Healthcare Reform, USCC, 1993).
Catholics do more than make moral judgments about health care. Health care is also an important ministry for the church in our state. Catholic health care represents approximately one-third of the hospitals in the state of Wisconsin today.
Catholic hospitals have a long and proud history of providing compassionate and holistic health care to the citizens of our state. Rooted in the respect for the dignity of every human life, Catholic hospitals protect the life of every individual from conception to death, regardless of infirmity or disability.
According to state data, six percent of Wisconsin's population (310,000) went without health insurance for all or part of the year 2000. The majority of these uninsured individuals were connected to employment during that time.
Young adults, low-income individuals, adults employed part-time, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, and farm residents are more likely to be uninsured than the general population. The fact that the majority of individuals who are uninsured are connected to the workforce reveals a weakness in the current employer-sponsored health care system.
According to a recent report from the National Coalition on Health Care, health insurance premiums increased an average of 11 percent in 2000 and 2001 nationwide, far beyond the rate of inflation. Double-digit increases are being seen again in 2002.
As Wisconsin faces continued increases in insurance costs, employers will feel pressured to reduce benefits, increase employee contribution rates, or drop health care coverage altogether.
Of additional concern is the potential for the state's current fiscal crisis to erode progress that has been made with the availability of the Medicaid and BadgerCare programs. As of the end of 2001 over 500,000 people were enrolled in these state-sponsored programs, which equates to nearly 10 percent of Wisconsin's population.
Cuts to these programs negatively impact the most vulnerable members of our society, low-income families, pregnant women, and small children in poverty. The value of these programs should be affirmed by, at a minimum, maintaining funding for these critical programs.
Heath care for persons
with mental illness
While access to health care services is a fundamental concern, the types of services available and covered by health care plans is also an appropriate concern for policy makers.
Legislators are considering proposals to increase the level of mandated coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatments in health care plans.
The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) supports this effort to provide "parity" for mental health services. Such a policy is consistent with our respect for the dignity of persons and reflects a recognition of the need to serve the health needs of the individual in a holistic manner.
Threats to religious liberty of Catholic health care
For over 30 years, the right of conscience of Catholic health care and Catholic health care workers to practice consistent with their moral and religious beliefs has been affirmed in the state. This right of religious conscience is threatened today in two ways.
First, some would mandate all employers who provide health insurance coverage to include coverage for contraceptive articles and services. While the current legislative proposals include a "religious exemption," the language is so narrowly drafted that organizations such as Catholic hospitals and Catholic Charities would not qualify for the exemption.
Second, even though Catholic health facilities can help sexual assault victims protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy by providing emergency contraception, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups want the law to compel Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault even if doing so potentially terminates a pregnancy.
The Catholic Health Care Association of Wisconsin (CHA-W) and the WCC are committed to protecting the religious freedom of the church's health care facilities.
Prepared by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, September 2002. Phone: 608-257-0004. Web site: www.wisconsincatholic.com
|Jump to: Top of page
|Front page Most recent issue Past issues|