Bishop Morlino has continued to ‘badger them lovingly with the truth’ Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
Bishop Robert C. Morlino
Bishop Robert C. Morlino was installed as the fourth Bishop of Madison on August 1, 2003. This week's Catholic Herald includes a special section as a tribute to Bishop Morlino on his 15th anniversary as the shepherd of the Diocese of Madison. People are encouraged to include the bishop in prayer. (File photo)

MADISON -- When Bishop Robert C. Morlino came to Madison as our new bishop in 2003, he said he hoped to practice BLT: "Badger them lovingly with the truth."

Bishop Morlino has continued to practice BLT throughout his 15 years as Bishop of Madison. "That's what I'm doing every blessed day," he has said. "I know that some feel more badgered than others, but I hope to help them to be both badgered and loved."

He will celebrate the 15th anniversary of his installation on August 1. He was installed as the fourth Bishop of Madison on August 1, 2003. The pro-life community in the diocese will be hosting a 5:30 p.m. Mass with Bishop Morlino at St. Mary Catholic Church of Pine Bluff, to which all are invited.

Joy in vocations

"My greatest joy continues to be in terms of the number of seminarians and vocations in the diocese," said Bishop Morlino. "We pray that the Lord will continue to bless us."

When he came, there were six diocesan seminarians. That number grew to a high of 33 seminarians.

Bishop Morlino has ordained 39 priests since he became bishop, including three this year.

Bishop Morlino noted that the late St. John Paul II said that necessary sign of a "healthy diocese" is priestly vocations. Added Bishop Morlino, "The first responsibility of the bishop to his people is to provide priests. I'm so grateful for what has been and what will be."

When asked how the growth in the number of priests has occurred here, Bishop Morlino said, "Because of the Lord. I give Him all the credit."

But he added that there have been excellent vocation directors, and "if there's an interest, we follow up."

He also recognized increased prayer for vocations, including Eucharistic Adoration for vocations held weekdays from 9 to 11:45 a.m. in the chapel of the diocesan center at Holy Name Heights.

Priests for Our Future campaign

The Diocese of Madison also established the Priests for Our Future campaign to help fund the education of future seminarians.

There was an excellent response to the campaign with over $44 million pledged, and well over $30 million received so far.

"I was very pleased and a bit surprised by the response, but very grateful," said Bishop Morlino. "People are showing how much they value the priesthood."

The funds raised in the campaign are housed in The Catholic Diocese of Madison Foundation (CDMF), which was incorporated in 2006 to serve parishes, schools, and parish members in the Diocese of Madison.

Growth in reverence

Another joy for the bishop is "an increase in reverence in the Mass."

He has encouraged people to receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling when possible.

He said, "It's going very well, but not in every parish. It clearly depends on the pastor's catechesis."

He has also asked that the tabernacle be moved into the sanctuary in every church in the diocese.

He noted, "If God is not front and center in our house, how will it be front and center in our lives?

Building of St. Paul Church at UW

One of the major accomplishments during his tenure was the building of the new St. Paul Church on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

He pointed out that the building of a new cathedral after the destruction of St. Raphael Cathedral by arson fire in 2005 was important, but the building of a new St. Paul Church was "more urgent."

He dedicated the new church in November of 2017, praising it for its beauty.

He said the new St. Paul Church is doing well. "Masses are very well-attended, and it's become a real community gathering center on the university campus," he observed.

Administrative achievements

Bishop Morlino is happy that due to the "generosity of people," the diocese has gotten expenses well under control.

The former Holy Name Seminary/Bishop O'Connor Catholic Center has been leased by Gorman & Company and renamed Holy Name Heights. The building was renovated to provide 54 apartments. Bishop Morlino moved back to Holy Name Heights from downtown Madison.

The diocese was able to keep diocesan offices and Catholic Charities in the building, which was renovated with new carpeting, painting, window treatments, and energy-saving lighting.

Bishop Morlino also pointed out that the diocesan Priest Retirement Plan is now fully funded.

Catholic Charities

Under Bishop Morlino, Catholic Charities has expanded the All Saints Neighborhood for senior citizens on Madison's west side, including the addition of an assisted living facility.

Catholic Charities also opened The Beacon, a homeless day resource center in downtown Madison.

Pro-life movement

Bishop Morlino said he's "very happy at the energy that the Lord has given to the pro-life movement in the state through more participation and in terms of the moral life in Christ. Nothing can be a higher priority. Our voice is for the defense of all life from conception to natural death."

During his 15 years in the diocese, Bishop Morlino has been present outside local abortion clinics, praying the Rosary and witnessing to the sanctity of life. He has spoken at legislative hearings, written letters to public officials, and written columns in the Catholic Herald on a variety of life issues.

Protecting marriage

Bishop Morlino was a strong supporter of the amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment passed in the November election of 2007.

"When we defend the definition of marriage, we're trying to defend the tradition of the family. When we defend the family, we want society to be strong, so families can be strong. That is the plan of God the creator," he said.

Feels at home

Of his 15 years in Madison, the bishop said, "I feel very much at home here more than ever."

He has been pleased that there are "so many examples of generous cooperation among the people here," which helps him enjoy living and serving in the Diocese of Madison even more.

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