Pope asks new bishops from Florida, Texas about hurricanes' aftermath

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope Francis personally greeted
new bishops from Florida and Texas Sept. 14, he “looked concerned”
and asked how the dioceses and their people were after major hurricanes and
rainstorms struck, one of the bishops said.

William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, said that when he and
Bishop Robert M. Coerver
of Lubbock, Texas, went
up to shake the pope’s hand, as soon as he heard where they were from, the pope
asked about the storms and the people.

The two bishops, along with 19 others from the United
States, and about 100 other bishops from around the world were in Rome for an
intense course the Vatican runs each September for bishops ordained during the
previous 12 months.

This year’s course began Sept. 6 as Hurricane Irma was
gaining strength in the Caribbean, but before its course toward Florida was

“I almost canceled, even on my way to the
airport,” Bishop Wack said. He did not want to leave his new diocese if
there was a chance the people would need him. “But the chancellor and
others said, ‘Go,'” and, in the end, “our diocese was almost
completely spared.”

The new bishops’ course includes presentations on canon law
and introductions to the work of various Vatican offices. Boston Cardinal Sean
O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors,
and Marie Collins, a former commission member and survivor of abuse, also gave

Bishop Wack said Collins’ presentation was
“gut-wrenching, of course, very sobering — both of their talks were —
but very, very important.”

Cardinal O’Malley told the bishops, “even if there’s
nothing the state finds against someone or it’s not a matter of a crime, you
are the shepherds of the diocese. You need to shepherd the people. Do what you
need to do to keep people safe,” Bishop Wack said.

The new bishop, who was ordained Aug. 22, said connecting with other new bishops
from around the world was the highlight of his time in Rome.

“It’s amazing that all of us — and even if we didn’t
speak the same language, you can almost read it in each other’s faces — almost
every single one of us is extremely surprised that we are here,” he said.
“Just to say, ‘How did this happen?’ ‘I was just a parish priest.’ ‘This
doesn’t happen to people like me.'”

“I love my life,” the bishop said. “I love
being a priest,” so he is focused on “still being a priest, but just
with a larger church.”

“I have no illusions of riding into a diocese and
trying to just really be in charge. I mean, I’m joining a church that’s already
alive and active,” Bishop Wack said. “I can’t wait to be back.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article