Archbishop Schwietz celebrates anniversary with Mass, memories

By KYLE ELLER

The Northern Cross

Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, who was the seventh bishop of Duluth and now archbishop of Anchorage said it was a “strange feeling to be back here in this pulpit.”

“It’s so good to be with you,” he said, as he began his homily for a Feb. 2 Mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, Minn.

He was joined by Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba, a small group of area clergy including Father Scott Medlock of Anchorage and several seminarians for the Anchorage Archdiocese.

Archbishop Schwietz, who served as bishop in Duluth from 1990 to 2001 and has served Anchorage for the past 15 years, said the day’s reading from the prophet Malachi, which promised that the Lord would come to his own temple, must have seemed difficult to understand.

“So God in his own marvelous way creatively fulfills the prophecy,” he said, with the Lord becoming “one of us, taking on our human nature.”

This was for a purpose: to suffer and die for us and thus to conquer death. But the mystery continues, the archbishop said, in that he chose the Twelve Apostles — weak, ordinary men — to continue his work, and even more mysteriously that he continues to carry on that mission of shepherding and guiding the church in ordinary people today.

“The magnitude of that trust of the Lord, that mystery of God continuing to work the work of the Good Shepherd through ordinary human beings, really hit me when I received the call from the apostolic nuncio on the 12th of December in 1989 informing me that I had been chosen by Pope John Paul II to shepherd these people in this local church, the Diocese of Duluth,” he said.

He said the magnitude of that trust hit him profoundly in the Duluth cathedral when he was ordained.

“And I’ll never forget when Archbishop [John] Roach poured the chrism over my head and down my neck and all over me that indeed was a great act of God, that God was here,” he said.

Archbishop Schwietz said that something similar is working out in each of our lives.

“As we look back at our lives, we realize more and more that there are no surprises for God, there are just different ways that he works in us and through us, in a very careful and loving way.”

He said his heart was filled with gratitude and asked for prayers that he will continue in his ministry of “fidelity to the truth and compassion toward God’s beloved people.”

“And I pledge my prayers to you always,” he said.

This article is reprinted with permission from The Northern Cross, the newspaper of the Diocese of Duluth.


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