September 21, 2003
Many thanks for this gift, testimonial Mass and “the tent event” to follow. Thanks to Cardinal Keeler who in his thoughtfulness and generosity proposed this celebration. Congratulations on your 24th anniversary of episcopal ordination. I extend this gratitude to the Testimonial Committee lead by the Co-chairs, Monsignor Paul Cook and Sister Edithann Kane who arranged today’s celebration. I am grateful to the Church of Baltimore who has responded so enthusiastically and generously to this threefold occasion in my priestly and episcopal life. And I thank all of you who have come from far and near to join in my praise of gratitude to the God who has truly blessed me over these past 50 years. In particular I want to thank Monsignor Armstrong for his hospitality, the music ministers under the direction of Dan Sansone, the liturgical ministers under the direction of Father Rob Jaskot and Father John Williamson.
Obviously this is an overwhelming moment in my life as I celebrate my 50th years as a priest and 20th as a bishop and begin the type of retirement I spoke about in my homily.
Thank you for marking these milestones of my share in Christ’s priesthood with such special festivity. This farewell celebration far outstrips my initial welcome into priestly ministry. As many of you know, I got off to a very inauspicious start with my first pastor, Bishop Sebastian. Upon arrival at St. Elizabeth’s back in 1954 I unknowingly parked my automobile in his personally reserved parking space. You can imagine my first meeting with him was very unceremonious with his telling me in no uncertain terms to move my car immediately. No welcome. No expression of happiness that I was assigned to St. Elizabeth. Things had to get better for me and my relationship with the pastor and they did.
Over the years some of us have been noted for criticizing the Baltimore Sunpapers but I can give testimony to the f