Bishop Ricken

Bishop's Corner

The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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A 48-hour gift

By | March 7, 2012

Then I had the grand opportunity to go visit the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein. I was incredibly shocked and pleased by the tremendous outreach that goes to so many poor countries in Central and South America thanks to the incredible organization brought about through Salvatorian Br. Regis Fust’s ministry and Salvatorian Sr. Dora Zapf, as well as a cast of volunteers.

Ninety-nine percent of the contributions to the Salvatorian Mission go directly to making sure that goods like clothing, food, kitchen utensils, kitchenware, etc., arrive at the countries and are distributed to the poor and those who are struggling.

Many of our parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay come to serve as volunteers as groups. What a great gift these 300 volunteers are. What a tremendous sign that we are living out the Gospel mandate from Matthew, Chapter 25. I thank from the bottom of my heart Br. Regis and all the volunteers who make this happen day after day, month after month and year after year.

I am very grateful to the wonderful school staff at Divine Savior Elementary School in Kiel, where I was able to read to the kindergarten through the fifth grades. I read a couple of wonderful stories about the Passion of Jesus Christ and about the thorn bush that was used to make the crown of thorns for his head on Good Friday. The children performed a beautiful hand-signing version of the Our Father that was absolutely moving and touched me very deeply.

I am very grateful to those students, their parents and the staff for all the sacrifices they make for our school in Kiel. It reminds me of the great gift that Catholic schools are to our diocese. They truly are the diamond in our own backyard. We need to make sure that we continue to invite young people and provide a quality education and religious formation in our wonderful Catholic schools.

I am also very grateful to Joseph Zenk, parish director, and to Mr. Stepanek and the school staffs for their fine parish and school leadership.

On Saturday afternoon, I was able to travel to Keshena and have a Mass at St. Michael Parish, which is on the Menominee Reservation. I went there because one of our parishioners and an elder of the Menominee people has been suffering for many years with an experience of trauma that she had when she was a student at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Keshena.

Frieda’s little sister Sylvia, who had anemia, died as a result of bleeding caused by a blow to the head by one of the religious sisters, who probably thought that she was merely exercising discipline as was the custom in those days, but whose discipline actually wound up costing the life of a beautiful little girl. We prayed for Sylvia’s soul and for the peace and consolation of Frieda and all of her family members.

It was truly a beautiful experience of reconciliation and healing. I know that for this generation and the next generations, we need to be constantly mindful of the importance of being sensitive to one another’s culture, language, customs, etc. so that we can continue to be children of God living in peace and harmony with one another and within the loving fold of the church.

On Sunday, I was able to go and install Fr. Don Zuleger as the new pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Appleton. This is his second parish. He is pastor of both St. Bernadette and Sacred Heart. After some turmoil and in the time of transition of parish leadership, it is a joy to see the people there embracing Fr. Zuleger and I am very grateful for his generosity in saying “yes” to this call. It was a joy to meet his mother and two of his sisters and to have lunch with them and all the parishioners at a moment of great joy and celebration.

For all of these wonderful reasons you can see it is a great joy to be a bishop. While yes, some moments are very difficult, these moments of engagement in the pastoral life bring me great joy and consolation because of the wonderful people and the priests in our Diocese of Green Bay.

Wishing the very best blessing upon you for the remainder of Lent.

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