Statement by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in Fort Wayne and South Bend:
November 14, 2009
I am both humbled and honored by Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of me as ninth Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Â I am particularly humbled to succeed Bishop John D’Arcy, who has served the faithful of this diocese with such great devotion and love for over 24 years. Â I am deeply grateful to Bishop D’Arcy for his very warm welcome and I look forward to learning from him about this wonderful diocese as I prepare to become your new shepherd.
I have been Bishop of my home diocese of Harrisburg for the past five years. Â naturally, it will not be easy for me to bid farewell to my family and friends, my brother priests and the faithful of the Harrisburg diocese. Â I express my deep gratitude to them for their support, prayers and affection. Â It has been a tremendous blessing in my life to serve as Bishop of Harrisburg and indeed to have served as a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg for 26 years.
With joyful anticipation, I look forward now to serve as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Â I look forward to meeting the priests, deacons, men and women in consecrated life, and lay faithful of the diocese. Â My greatest joys as Bishop have been in being with the people teaching the faith and celebrating the sacraments. Â I am looking forward to visiting the parishes, schools and other communities of my new diocese. Â My only previous visit to this diocese was in 2006 when I visited the University of Notre Dame for a game between my two favorite college football teams, Notre Dame and Penn State. Â I remember well celebrating Holy Mass in the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus after the Mass.
Bishops serve the Church as successors of the Apostles. Â Our Lord Jesus sent the apostles forth with the mandate to teach, sanctify and serve as He did. Â Jesus said to the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Â (John 20:21). Â I am conscious of “being sent” from Harrisburg to Fort Wayne-South Bend. Â As I accept this appointment of our Holy Father, I do so with faith and trust in the Lord. Â I have before my eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the sheep. Â I ask for your prayers that I may be a true shepherd after the heart of Christ.
I pledge to the people of my new diocese my love and my prayers. Â I was very happy to learn that the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Â Let us implore her intercession that we may fulfill the task which Christ has entrusted us. Â Our Blessed Mother accompanies us with her maternal care as we journey together on our earthly pilgrimage of faith, hope, and love.
Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades