The Most Reverend Edmond Carmody, D.D.
The Seventh Bishop of Corpus Christi
Given at Corpus Christi Cathedral, March 17, 2000
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord: I am filled with joy at the sight of all of you who are gathered here this evening to pray with me and for me as I begin my ministry as the Bishop of Corpus Christi. You are certainly a marvelous crowd.
I welcome the Archbishops and Bishops who have traveled great distances to be here this evening. I appreciate your support and friendship.
I welcome especially Archbishop Montalvo, the Papal Nuncio. Archbishop Montalvo is the Holy Father's personal representative here with us. By your presence, you bless us and you honor us in Corpus Christi. Please convey to our Holy Father our deep gratitude and prayers for his paternal concern for this diocese. Please assure our Holy Father that we will always be loyal and faithful to his teachings.
My friends, I assure you that the Holy Father could have sent you a more intelligent bishop, a better preacher, a better administrator, but he could not have sent you a bishop that will love you more.
I welcome my brother priests who have come here in such great numbers. Fathers, everybody in the church needs to say to you priests over and over again, "The church loves you deeply"- There is a beauty and goodness and a generosity in you that blesses us all. You give your lives and we need to continue to thank you, to help you, to challenge you and to encourage you as you strive to become more like Christ, the Good Shepherd, the Consoler and the inspired of renewed priestly life. Thank you.
To my dear religious sisters and brothers - during all your life, you have truly been the embodiment of the corporal works of mercy. You have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, cared for the sick, educated the youth, cared for widows and orphans and have been a shining witness of the presence of the compassionate Jesus in your witness, by your work and prayers. We support you, and we minister side by side with you as we strive to make this the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
To you my dear permanent deacons. Thanks for being here this evening. Thanks for your dedication as you live out two great vocations, the vocation to the married life and your vocation to the diaconate. I also thank you wives for the great support that you give so that they may serve as deacons in our church.
I welcome the ministers of other faiths. We are all involved in ministry, we are all striving to do good. I look forward to getting to know you as we need to work together, we need to remove all obstacles in the way of the Lord. We are pilgrims together on the way to the heavenly Father. We have not here in this world a lasting city, we live as wanderers constantly seeking a final destination. We dwell on earth but we are all citizens of heaven.
I welcome our civic and government officials. I admire your great dedication to serving our communities. I appreciate the sacrifices you make every day. I welcome the mayor of the City of Tyler who has journeyed with me here this day. Welcome, Mayor Eltife, to Corpus Christi. I encourage all our civil officials to remember, "Nothing is lost with peace - all is lost with war". Remember that the needs of the poor take priority over the wants of the rich. The freedom of the dominated takes priority over the liberty of the powerful and the participation of those who are marginalized takes priority over the preservation of an order that excludes them. May the good God bless your work. Be not afraid to recognize the dignity of the human person as the bearer of rights endowed by God.
I welcome the members of the media, both video, audio and the mighty pen. I appreciate how you do your challenging job. You make it possible for millions of people to experience the good news of the Lord. You make it possible this evening for the many people who could not be present here to be united with this holy assembly. You make it possible for those who are down stairs to be with us. You make it possible for our housebound retired priests, sisters, religious brothers, homebound members of our church, those in hospitals, nursing homes and those suffering in our prisons to be with us for this religious celebration. Thank you, media, for all you do. You help to take the hatred out of peoples' hearts and the prejudice out of their eyes.
I want to welome here this evening my mother, brothers, sisters, their spouses, my niece, my nephew and my other Irish friends. I cherish your support and affection.
I welcome my wonderful friends from Tyler. It was a wonderful eight years serving as your bishop. You were a wonderful community. I will miss you. The tears have all been shed. Now, we have said our goodbyes. The Holy Father will send you another shepherd to continue the mission of the Lord Jesus in East Texas, the piney woods, all things were good in the piney woods. I wish to pay sincere tribute to the great bishops who have served this diocese of Corpus Christi, four of them are with our Heavenly Father in peace, Bishop Nussbaum, Bishop Ledvina, Bishop Garriga and Bishop Drury. We are privileged to have with us this evening Bishop Gracida and Archbishop Gonzalez. As I said at the news conference, I cannot fill your shoes. I will take them and bronze them and place them on the mantle piece, then I will stand on your great shoulders and continue the great mission of the Lord in this part of the vineyard. You have seen this diocese grow to be a very large congregation.
When Archbishop Montalvo called me on January 25 to inform me that our Holy Father had named me your bishop, and I said yes, I began to reflect. Oh, my God, what a huge diocese, nearly 400,000 Catholics, what a huge congregation, and then I thought of the man from Dallas who came to visit East Texas. He traveled the back roads of East Texas to see the beautiful pine trees, the blooming dogwoods, the flowering azaleas, the sweet smelling redbud trees and the magnificent Bradford pears. He was so distracted with the great beauty that he drove off the road and into the ditch. He went to the local farmer asking for help to pull his car out of the ditch. The farmer had no tractor but he said he had only one horse, who was blind named Dusty, and so he would try to help pull out the car. He tied the horse to the car and then said, "Pull, Johnny, pull", and nothing happened. Then the farmer said, "Pull, Joey, pull", and nothing happened. Then the farmer said, "Pull, Dusty, pull" and Dusty pulled the car out of the ditch. The Dallas man said, "I don't understand. You have only one horse but you called three names". The farmer answered and said, "You see, Dusty is blind, and if he thought he had to do all that work by himself he would not even begin". This evening, with this great assembly gathered in this magnificent Cathedral, I know that I do not have to do all that work by myself. I have with me here all the Priests, Catechists, Lectors, Ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, Catholic schools' staff, Catholic hospitals' staff, Educators, Nurses, Seminarians, Pastoral Advisors, Chancery Workers, Parish Workers, Deacons, Sisters, and Brothers. Know that together we will promote the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. We are a pastoral team that is committed to nourish the flock, reach out to all inactive Catholics and invite those who have no church home to come and experience our celebrations with the Lord Jesus. We know that the sheep must eat, they will eat the garbage of the world and die or eat the Spiritual food of the Lord and have life eternal.
As the procession entered the church this evening, the Deacon carried the Book of Gospels raised on high. This is no ordinary book, this book contains the living word of the Lord Jesus. The Deacon placed the book on the altar to show the relationship between the altar, the sign of the Lord's presence and His presence in His word. Before the Gospel, the book was taken in procession with candles and incense, showing the importance of the word of the Lord, to the pulpit. There the Deacon proclaimed the word, the words spoken by Jesus, His inaugural speech, His mission for us, His followers, given to us from His hometown of Nazareth. When the Deacon finished the reading of the Gospel, he looked directly at you, at us, and said, "The Gospel of the Lord". We now are the Gospel of the Lord, the Good News of the Lord. The words have left the book and are now in us. Sometimes I notice people leaving church after communion and I rejoice because I know that they are in a great hurry to go out into the world to proclaim the Good News of the Lord Jesus.
We ask ourselves what does it mean to bring sight to the blind as the Gospel calls us to do this evening in a society where the thirst for power and pleasure makes us blind to an Almighty God. What does it mean to bring sight to the blind who promote and tolerate the violence of abortion and the vengeance of capital punishment. What does it mean to bring good news to those who are imprisoned by addiction to drugs or alcohol, overcome by the responsibility of raising a family, overcome by caring for a sick relative, overcome by the fear of a struggling business, the jobless, no health care, no opportunity for a good education for their children. Jesus has assured us that He will be a source of strength for all. Jesus said I came so that the deaf may hear, to learn the good news of salvation, so that we would learn that we have a never-the-less God. No matter how we sin, He will forgive - no matter how we stray, we will be welcomed back - no matter how much like the prodical son we have become, we will be welcomed home.
What does He mean when His inaugural speech says 'the lame may walk'. No matter how we are burdened, he will help us to carry our load. No matter how sad and depressed we are, He will bring us joy. He will walk with us as He did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus said captives would be set free. He will free all people if we ask His peace, His lasting peace, peace that will set us free, peace that is free of greed and selfishness. We commit ourselves to respect human life, no matter how rich or how poor, how old or how young , how holy or how evil, be it man or woman, be they black, white, brown, red or yellow. We will be judged by our response to the least of the brethren - how we set them free. And, the good news is that we are all brothers and sisters. We are one human family, when one suffers, we all suffer. When one rejoices, we all rejoice. The poor among us are not burdens, but brothers and sisters and that loving our neighbor has global dimensions in the third millennium. We, today, have to see ourselves as followers of Jesus talking and preaching about our responsibilities and obligations and not about our rights and privileges. We need to put into practice the inaugural speech of Jesus our King, we need to continue His mission, we as a church, followers of Jesus, have to make His mission His way, our way.
(Address in Spanish)
We, ministering together, can make a difference in our world. Over the past 50 years, Marxism tried to suppress religion, secular states tried to ignore religion, but in Poland they ran into John Paul II, in the Philippines, they came up against Cardinal Sin; in South Africa, they encountered Archbishop Dennis Hurley; in El Salvador secular government found a need to silence by murder - priests, sisters, brothers, lay leaders and even Archbishop Romero - even in our own country, our own presidents have learned a great deal from the bishops' pastoral letters; and yes, humble Mother Teresa inspired our world. Yes, my brothers and sisters, the way of the Lord Jesus, His mission, His way leads to justice, it leads to peace and it leads to joy in our world. Amen.
Given at Corpus Christi Cathedral
March 17, 2000
The Most Reverend Edmond Carmody, D.D.
Bishop of Corpus Christi