Bishop bids farewell to congregation

January 16, 2011 by

Visiting the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia for what will probably be the last time, Bishop Paul Coakley recalled his first visit six years ago, soon after he was appointed to lead the Salina Diocese.

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“I was touched the first time I celebrated Mass here because this is ‘Nazareth,'” the bishop told the sisters who had gathered for a farewell reception in his honor this afternoon. “Nazareth was the place Mary and Joseph found comfort, and I felt that warmth here. I was always welcomed here.”

Bishop Coakley, who will be installed as Archbishop of Oklahoma City on Feb. 11, has been a regular visitor at the Motherhouse since he came to Salina in 2005. This afternoon many of the sisters spoke individually with him, thanking him for his time here and to wishing him well in his new calling.

Sister Marcia Allen, president of the congregation, told him that our congregation was founded in the mid 17th century to serve in the way that Joseph did — with “cordial charity.” She went on to explain the 17th century meaning of the word cordial: a tonic to stimulate a weak heart. Today, she said, the sisters define “cordial” as a verb that means to activate, to animate and to invigorate.

“Those are qualities who have shown in your service here,” she told Bishop Coakley, “and it seems to me those are qualities that are important to an archbishop, too.”

To remind him of that definition and the cordial charity epitomized by Joseph, Sister Marcia presented Bishop Coakley with a statue of the saint — “and he’s working,” she noted wryly.

As is the sisters’ tradition, the congregation sang a blessing for Bishop Coakley, promising to be with him on his journey.

Earlier in the afternoon, Bishop Coakley spoke to the Salina Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, who were also meeting at the Concordia Motherhouse.

Bishop Coakley will formally say goodbye to the diocese in a special Mass of Thanksgiving and Farewell at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. A reception will follow, and everyone in the Salina Diocese is invited.

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