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01-16-2022Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On January 20, our Bishop turns 75. As required by Canon Law, bishops and pastors are required to submit their resignations upon reaching their 75th birthday. So, Bishop Olmsted will submit his letter to Pope Francis. Now the Holy Father can accept the letter, wait awhile or ask him to stay on for a bit longer. Though it seems to be the practice of Pope Francis to accept episcopal resignations within a month or so of their submittal. Which means, at least when I look into my crystal ball, we will probably have a new Bishop sometime around Easter.

The appointment of Bishops is solely in the hands of the Pope. Though the process runs through the local Nuncio for each country who generally submits names of potential candidates to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican. They in turn vet the candidates and generally give the Pope a short list of choices. The Pope is free to choose from that list or not. Pope’s tend to be in a difficult spot, having to depend on the information given to them by others and being responsible or appointments world-wide.

The system of choosing who becomes a bishop and which bishops become heads of Dioceses is rather opaque and tightly controlled. The process can become very insular, with those bishops who have the most pull pushing their candidates to the top of the list. As we saw with the former bishop and Cardinal, McCarrick, the results can be a small cabal or network who refuse to hold each other accountable. Misplaced loyalty has created more than few messes and bishops who went down in disgrace. Pope Francis has acknowledged this and I hope he revises the process for the selection of Bishops.

We however have been fortunate as Bishop Olmsted has served our Diocese for 18yrs with humility and integrity. If you remember back when he first came, well, things were in a state of disaster. It was a very difficult period and not an easy situation to step into as a leader. But he did lead and over the years calmed things down, straightened things out and help our Diocese to grow immensely.

There were tough choices that had to be made, choices that probably made no one happy but they had to be made. Bishop’s style and decision making is slow and methodical. He likes to consult and consult and consult until he gets the information, he needs to make a decision. I often told him it was too slow a process and he would just shake his head and do it at his pace!

The Office of Bishop is responsible to “teach, govern and sanctify”. Our Bishop has done all three very well. With his three Apostolic letters, setting the Diocesan administration on sure footing and by the example of his simple lifestyle has certainly helped lead us to holiness.

So please on the 20th remember the Bishop in your prayers.

O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful, Look favorably on your servant, Whom you have set at the head Of your Church of Phoenix as her shepherd, Grant we pray by word and example He may be of service to those over whom he presides, So that together with the folk entrusted to his care, He may come to everlasting life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit God, forever and ever. Amen.