A tribute to Bishop Loverde

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Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde was honored Nov. 2 for his 50 years of priestly ministry, including more than 16 years as the shepherd of this diocesan church.

The theme of the tribute dinner was "Together, in the Heart of Christ." The event was held at the Marriott Fairview Park in Falls Church.

Father Thomas P. Ferguson, the recently appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia, served as master of ceremonies.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, were among the dignitaries in attendance.

A 15-minute video highlighted the bishop's priestly ministry. It included footage from his recent pilgrimage to Sicily and Rome, as well as interviews with him, Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Lori.

Bishop Loverde expressed his "profound gratitude" to the more than 600 people in attendance. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said.

He acknowledged the progress made in the diocese during the past 16 years. "We've done it together," he said. "I can't do it by myself.

"It's been a privilege bringing people to Jesus," the bishop added. "What better gift can I give people than Jesus?"

In brief comments before dinner, Cardinal Wuerl said he was pleased to be able to salute his longtime friend, Bishop Loverde, whom he first met in 1963 when they were studying for the priesthood together at the North American College in Rome. It was a time of great excitement during the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal said.

"During these past 50 years, our good friend has demonstrated a singular commitment to Christ and His church," Cardinal Wuerl said.

"What a good example and a great friend you've been," he told Bishop Loverde. "Congratulations and God bless you."

Father Paul Scalia, the episcopal vicar for clergy, spoke on behalf of the priests and permanent deacons of the diocese. He thanked the bishop for "the great concern and attention" that he always shows the clergy.

"The bishop is always available and always present," he said.

The permanent deacons are especially grateful to him for renewing the permanent diaconate program in the diocese, Father Scalia said.

He then announced that the priests will present Bishop Loverde with a gift of a statue of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, to be placed in the courtyard of St. Rose of Lima Priests' Retirement Villa in Annandale.

"Thank you for your good example," Father Scalia said.

Timothy R. Cotnoir, diocesan finance officer, spoke on behalf of the diocesan staff. He said Bishop Loverde displays three qualities: joyful kindness, servant leadership and a desire to bring people to Christ.

"He's always curious to know what's going on in your life," Cotnoir said.

He said the diocese has been blessed because of the bishop's commitment to Catholic education, youth ministry, the fight against pornography and his emphasis on evangelization.

Archbishop Lori said that after Bishop Loverde was installed as the third bishop of Arlington in March 1999, he quickly realized that Arlington was blessed with a holy priest and wise bishop.

His time here has been marked with growth in discipleship, Catholic education, charitable works and vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the archbishop said.

"How is it that he accomplishes so much as your bishop?" he asked. "It's the right mix of gentleness and firmness. He has gathered around him great leaders and friends.

"What a joy it is to work so closely in the Province of Baltimore," said Archbishop Lori, who made a special point of thanking Bishop Loverde for his leadership in helping identify and hire Msgr. Andrew R. Baker of Allentown, Pa., as the new rector of Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Kathy Pryor and Wendy Sellier served as organizing chairs of the dinner. Anne Mathis, program director of the Diocesan Leadership Initiative, and Corinne Monogue, director of the Office of Multicultural Ministries, spearheaded the program committee.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015