Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian
On the eve of his installation as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Barry C. Knestout instructed the diocese’s priests and deacons on the necessity in being facilitators of communion with Christ.
The instruction was part of the homily the then-bishop-designate delivered during Evening Prayer, Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond. The prayer, the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was from the Liturgy of the Hours and featured Marian hymns, antiphons, psalms and the Canticle of Mary.
He told the clergy, including two archbishops and five bishops, and the more 400 people gathered, as well as those watching through the diocesan livestream, that the Blessed Virgin is the model for living that communion.
“Humility, obedience, chastity and charity are all the virtues of the Blessed Virgin and should be ours as well,” the bishop said.
He said humility helps clergy realize they might not have “perfect insight” and that they can be wrong in their judgment.
“At the same time, this humility helps us look soberly at our gifts and place them joyfully at the service of God and his people,” Bishop Knestout said.
He said humility is a point of reference when he works with clergy who are struggling with personal or pastoral challenges.
“I have found that the key to meeting and overcoming the challenge is humility — the willingness to admit that they may be wrong and possibly need to reassess or change something they are doing,” Bishop Knestout said.
Chastity, according to the bishop, can be directed toward God and the Church.
“Single-hearted focus on Christ helps us to moderate every unruly passion associated with our temperament or personality,” he said. “With this virtue, we more easily tend to the pastoral care of all those in need.”
Bishop Knestout said obedience helps clergy “cooperate with God’s will,” including decisions made by their ecclesial superiors — “even if those decisions may challenge and personally affect us.”
He continued, “Because we clergy function as leaders and teachers, we can sometimes speak more readily than listen, and we fail to incorporate into our own work the wisdom or insights of those we serve.”
The bishop cautioned about what happens when sins against humility, chastity, obedience and pastoral charity are committed.
“(Those sins) make our service difficult, odious at times, which can then easily lead us to imposing our wills rather than proposing our ideas for the active cooperation of those we serve,” he said.
Reminding the clergy to seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother in helping them practice those virtues and “in being the good shepherds that Christ calls us to be by ordination,” the bishop concluded, “May we be guided by humility to see clearly the truth, may we embrace obedience to hear and listen to God’s voice, may we be chaste, single-hearted in proclaiming Christ to the world in all we encounter, and always act with hearts and hands in pastoral charity, just as Our Lady did.”
At the conclusion of the service, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who preceded Bishop Knestout as secretary to Washington Cardinal James A. Hickey, told the gathering that in appointing Bishop Knestout to lead the Diocese of Richmond, Pope Francis had sent a bishop with a “beautiful, loving, pastoral heart.”
The congregation broke into spontaneous applause.