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Catholic Voice
  November 5, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Working in parishes helped archbishop hone priestly skills


Archbishop Alex J. Brunett

Peace and Joy to you!

It has been almost a month since I received a phone call from The Vatican telling me that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, wanted me to go to Oakland, California, as the apostolic administrator. I apologize I have not written an article for The Catholic Voice. It has taken some time to organize my move here and to meet with all those who have requested a visit. I am sure you can imagine the number of people who wanted to have an appointment with me.

Let me say first off, that I have been welcomed here by the priests and people that I have met. There are so many wonderful priests, sisters and lay people — kind and dedicated to the work of the Church. They have made me feel at home here.

One of the questions you might have on your mind is "Who is this Archbishop? Where did he come from? What's his background?" I can't answer every question, but I can tell you a bit about myself.

I come from a family of 15 children — 12 of us are still living. We grew up in Detroit — the archdiocese for which I was ordained in 1958. I have had several appointments during these years — some to do graduate study, some to teach in the seminary but none more important than to work in parish communities. That has been my life-blood — serving the people of God.

It has given me great challenges and honed my priestly skills. During these years the bishops under whom I served always gave me extra assignments such as head of the Theological Commission, director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and editorial writer for our archdiocesan paper. Primarily, I spend much time in the official Vatican Dialogues, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim. The dialogues are important Vatican efforts to achieve common understandings, actions, convergence, communication and collaboration with major religious groups regarding beliefs and common action. They have been ongoing for 50 years and have produced many positive statements and cooperation. For many of them I helped establish the dialogues and also published several studies and position papers.

Although I have been called out of retirement, I have always been noted for the unlimited energy and enthusiasm I have for the work of ministry. Since I have been here, I am excited about the wide variety of parishes, towns and villages ministered to by dedicated clergy and lay leaders. Added to that is a talented and hardworking staff offering the potential for sound and fulfilling ministry to all of us.

I have been a priest for 54 years and have learned many things about myself and my attitudes toward ministry. I can assure you that I am:

• Always happy about my priesthood.

• Always joyful about the opportunity to serve the people of God.

• Always hopeful about the future.

• Always willing to tackle any challenge or solve any problem — the only problems we don't solve are the ones we don't do anything about.

• Always refreshed and renewed by the celebrations of the Eucharist. My episcopal Coat of Arms states clearly my motto "The Sign of Faith is the Bread of Life." These words of Christ from John 6 are the heart of the Gospel message.

I am not a politician. I come from a faith tradition that has experience with every form and theory of politics — from kings and princes, queens and matriarchs, Tories and Whigs, tribal chiefs and dictators, Democrats and Republicans.

I believe that the Church has survived all of them because it has lived by sacred principles.

I am not one to pledge fidelity to any political party or theory. I believe one must follow a well-formed conscience and vote for the best qualified and committed candidate regardless of affiliation.

I believe I must always take the high road and live the high calling of principle over the temptation to get immersed and neutralized by issue after issue until we have deleted all sense of personal responsibility.

I believe in the Catholic principle that all people are sacred, created in the image of God and are to be treated as such.

With you I seek the unity of the Church, which means I must have a deep and abiding appreciation for diversity. Unity is not contrived or manufactured. It is not a political politeness. For the Catholic, it is a response to the prayer of Jesus Himself "that all may be one."

I pledge myself to work with you to achieve that level of unity where we can speak the Truth in Love. When we work together we can create a community that reaches out for all people with concern, caring, sharing and sensitivity.

In that way no one can question the credibility of our religious convictions because we have lifted up the sacredness of all life and proclaimed with one Voice: Jesus is Lord.

May God bless our time together!

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