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Blessings come with transition

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Many families, especially those in the military, have experienced transitions in life that require moving away from “home” and from what is familiar and starting over in new surroundings and communities. My recent transition occurred a year ago when Pope Francis asked me to leave a diocese I loved and served for 10 years to become the Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington. As we all know, transitions bring challenges and blessings. They also teach many lessons that assist us in our spiritual lives, including that where we are at any given time is only for a “privileged season,” and that in God’s divine plan, He will lead us to where we need to be and He will provide the grace we require.

The challenges associated with transition include letting go of what you have come to know, to appreciate and to enjoy. As you leave the place you had called home, there is a certain sadness in having to say “good-bye” to those personal and working relationships that had come to mean a great deal. While they live on in significant ways, they are experienced in a new light. Anyone who has moved also is aware of the challenge of packing and the practical concerns of finding a new doctor, dentist, etc. ... The biggest challenge is often the reality that you have to begin anew in making friends and establishing close relationships. One unique challenge in moving to this area is finding the patience to deal with the daily traffic!   

In the midst of the challenges that transition brings, there are countless blessings. A new beginning brings new life and a sense of adventure. You begin to meet wonderful people who you never would have known if you had not made the move. Your new surroundings open the doors to learning about a new geographical region and its history and richness. Transition within the Church helps you to realize that wherever we go, we are united. We are one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church!

On a personal note and on the first anniversary of my installation as the Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, I reflect on how God has sustained me in this time of transition with His amazing grace. I am grateful particularly to the Lord for blessing me with the fraternal support of Bishop Loverde and my brother priests, who are a gift to me and my ministry. I also have been deeply inspired by the witness and example of our deacons, consecrated religious, seminarians, youth and all the lay faithful I have met in my parish and school visits. In addition, I am helped on a daily basis through the dedication and hard work of my colleagues at the Chancery. I have learned much about the history of our wonderful Diocese and feel blessed to have this “privileged season” to carry on the great work that has been done throughout the years. It is a great gift to be able to call the Diocese of Arlington my home and to share it with all of you.

The challenges and blessings of transition offer us many lessons to apply to our spiritual lives as we strive daily to grow in holiness and in our intimate relationship with the Lord. Allow me to conclude by focusing on the sacred season of Advent, which we have just begun.

As we prepare for the birth of our Savior, all of us are being invited to newness of life. We do not have to move to experience this precious gift, yet it will be helpful to apply some of the lessons involved with any transition. Remember, God has a plan for you. Rely completely on His grace. Treat each day as a special gift and a “privileged season” to love and to serve God and one another. In letting go of the old and familiar, be assured that God will fill your heart and life with countless blessings and gifts. Recall how many times in the midst of change and transition, God has remained true to His promise to be with you always. Entrust your life to His care.

No matter where you are, make your life a home, a fitting dwelling place for the Lord, and you will know newness of life in this sacred season and always. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017