||Archbishop Jerome Listecki talks with staff of the Diocese of Madison and answers questions following lunch during his recent visit to Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Mary C. Uhler)
MADISON -- Archbishop Jerome Listecki, archbishop of Milwaukee, paid a visit to the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison recently in order to become better acquainted with Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s diocesan staff and collaborators.
As head of the Province of Milwaukee, Archbishop Listecki is charged with building unity and fraternity among all the bishops and dioceses of Wisconsin.
Presides at Mass
The archbishop began his visit by presiding at a Mass in the O’Connor Center chapel. At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Morlino greeted the archbishop, saying, “We’re honored that you’re here.”
Bishop Morlino noted that Archbishop Listecki was presented with a pallium from the Holy Father as a sign of special affection and unity with the pope. “It is also a sign of the special responsibility that Archbishop Listecki has to keep us united,” said the bishop.
In his homily at the Mass, Archbishop Listecki said his purpose in coming to Madison was to visit his friend, Bishop Morlino, and meet the diocesan staff. “I thank you for the great job you do,” he told the staff.
He also thanked Bishop Morlino for his “leadership in the state.” Archbishop Listecki remarked that the bishops of Wisconsin get along very well, as was mentioned even during their recent ad limina visit in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI.
Call to evangelize
Archbishop Listecki noted that it was the feast of St. Mark, one of the great evangelists and a disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul. At the end of his Gospel, St. Mark gives a “call to evangelize.”
The archbishop said the diocesan staff members, too — especially in the state capital — are called to bring the message of the Lord Jesus and his truth to our society.
Archbishop Listecki met with diocesan office directors and senior staff. He then ate lunch with the entire staff, gave a brief talk, and answered questions.
In his meeting with office directors, the archbishop admitted that it is a “difficult time for us in the Church,” including dealing with financial issues, the effects of clergy sexual abuse, and attempts by others in society to “diminish our moral voice.”
Yet, despite these challenges, Archbishop Listecki said, “We have to manifest our witness to the faith. In the early Church, if you were Christian, you were persecuted. Times have not changed.”
He observed that thousands of people in the world today are martyred for their faith. In the United States, we suffer from an “intellectual martyrdom,” he said.
“However, we do have power from Christ. People are professing allegiance to the Church,” he said.
He encouraged office directors to use all their gifts as one and be united in the Body of Christ.
Signs of hope
He said there are signs of hope in his archdiocese, where the annual stewardship appeal is ahead of last year. “There is a sense of vitality in the archdiocese. We have a plan and a vision. I have declared 2013 a year of study for a synod to develop a plan of action.”
He said Catholics in Wisconsin should be proud of the Church’s accomplishments in its health care facilities, schools, and parishes. “Think of what would happen if we didn’t have the Catholic Church in Wisconsin. We are a better society because of the influence of the Catholic Church.”
In his talk with the entire diocesan staff, Archbishop Listecki said he is concerned about the condition of marriage in society, which is impacted by divorce and lower numbers of people getting married, as well as attacks on the definition of marriage.
As a civil lawyer, Archbishop Listecki said he “never saw a definition of marriage except between a man and a woman. Now there are those who are trying to redefine marriage.”
The archbishop also touched on such topics as the pro-life movement, the upcoming Year of Faith, and attacks on religious liberty.