Tuesday, October 30, 2007

B16 Makes "Black" History; Conv. Franciscan Named Milwaukee Aux.

These days, the state of the appointment docket is such that most heads of large US dioceses could be forgiven for betting on what'll come first: the return of the Lord or the arrival of a new auxiliary bishop.

Though long in coming, the requesting bishops are finding that the wait is worth it -- by and large, they're getting their choices. And in keeping with the trend, a favorite of Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been recalled from Rome to assist the Milwaukee prelate.

This morning, Pope Benedict appointed Conventual Franciscan Friar Fr William Callahan, 57, as auxiliary bishop for the Wisconsin flock of 675,000. Known as "Black" Franciscans due to the color of their habit, Callahan is the first Conventual Friar to ever be raised to the episcopacy in the United States.

A native of Chicago and, since 2005, spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the bishop-elect is an adopted son of Milwaukee, where he served two tours at the see city's Basilica of St Josaphat, the site of his 1977 priestly ordination.

Well-loved both by the Milwaukeeans and the Gianicolo crowd -- and known to enjoy Dolan's particular trust and esteem -- the appointee is preceded by a sterling reputation; as one of Callahan's friends once summed up the bishop-elect, "I don't know anyone who loves being a priest more than Bill."

At the legendary Polish masterpiece on the city's south side, where he became the first non-Pole to serve as its rector-pastor in 1994, Callahan oversaw the $7.5 million restoration of the grand 1901 edifice, Milwaukee's largest church. A preservationist by nature, as a rookie curate at the basilica the bishop-to-be hid one of its original lamps (first used in Chicago's 19th century Main Post Office) in its attic. Returning as pastor, he returned to to find that the lamp had remained untouched since his prior encounter with it. The antique fixture was subsequently cloned, and the replicas re-adorn the basilica's walls.

Years in the making, the appointment comes on the heels of Dolan's fifth anniversary as archbishop of Milwaukee, and as his wider profile continues to grow. While a continuing consensus sees him at the front of the pack of Cardinal Edward Egan's possible successors in New York, with an eye to the mid-November balloting in Baltimore, an informal canvass of his peers indicates the 57 year-old archbishop's emergence as a leading contender for the vice-presidency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The first auxiliary named to Milwaukee since Bishop Richard Sklba was appointed in 1979, Bishop-elect Callahan will be formally introduced at a press conference later this morning. His ordination is slated for 21 December in the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist.

SVILUPPO: In his prepared statement, Dolan calls the appointment "a providential moment":
“Father Callahan’s spiritual and pastoral leadership has been and will be a blessing for our Church and we are grateful the Holy Father has appointed him to serve the faithful people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”...

“I was humbled by the news from the Holy Father,” Callahan said. “My only desire is to serve the Church and I am honored to be asked to do so as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It is already home for me and I am eager to get to know more of the priests and people of this great archdiocese and for them to know me.”

“The fact that he is from a religious order affirms the strong tradition and presence of religious orders in southeastern Wisconsin,” Archbishop Dolan said. “The service of men and men religious are an essential part of our Church in southeastern Wisconsin.”