The following are the remarks of Bishop Daniel E. Thomas at the news conference for his appointment as the eighth bishop of Toledo, Aug. 26 in Toledo, Ohio.
Praised be Jesus Christ Now and forever!
Good morning Diocese of Toledo! What a great thrill and tremendous joy to greet you today for the first time as your new bishop! What a blessing to now call you my family of faith and to call Ohio my home! I warmly greet my brother priests and deacons, seminarians, consecrated men and women religious, and all the Catholic faithful in our nineteen deaneries. I am so pleased to greet all of you gathered here at the Catholic Center, those who work for the Diocese, all those who are watching this streamed live, and all our friends from the media who are covering this press conference.
I am honored, humbled and excited to be your new bishop! I express my profound gratitude to Pope Francis for his confidence and trust in appointing me the shepherd of the Lord’s flock here in northwest Ohio. Aware that I am not worthy of the Office, I trust in God’s Holy Will as expressed through the Successor of Peter and in the grace and mercy of Jesus the Good Shepherd. I am most grateful for the tremendous kindness and encouragement of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and for the courageous episcopal ministry, witness and support of my own Archbishop, Charles Chaput, and that of the whole Archdiocese of Philadelphia, my beloved home until today.
It is both reassuring and encouraging to succeed such a fine prelate as Archbishop Leonard Blair, now of Hartford. I join you in thanking Archbishop Blair for the steadfast, dedicated, and generous ministry he exercised here for almost ten years. It will be a privilege to be counted among the Bishops of Ohio together with the Metropolitan Archbishop Dennis Schnurr. I join you as well in thanking Father Charles Ritter, the Diocesan Administrator, who has guided the day to day work of the Diocese during this time of transition, and has done so selflessly, prudently and faithfully. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Father Ritter. Please know that I have already been made to feel most welcome and at home, and I am so grateful for the hard work of Father Monte Hoyles, Monsignor William Kubacki, Father Daniel Borgelt, Monsignor Marvin Borger, Sally Oberski, and everyone already laboring diligently on the Installation Team. I thank all those who were instrumental in the arrangements for today, and who will be responsible for the planning of events in the days to come!
So, I know you’re wondering, just who is this bishop Pope Francis has sent to you? Well, the word is already out: Pope Francis has sent Toledo a new Danny Thomas! Now, since the bishop is the father of the family of faith in the Diocese, I guess today, this is Pope Francis’ way of inviting all of you to “Make Room for Daddy!” For those under 50 years old, that was the name of the actor Danny Thomas’ TV show!
Just who is this who is coming to you? Perhaps to paraphrase Saint Maximilian Kolbe, on whose feast I learned I would be your bishop, I would simply respond: I am a Roman Catholic Bishop. Just as for Saint Maximilian, his saying, “I am a Roman Catholic Priest,” was more important than announcing his name, so for me, simply stating “I am a Roman Catholic Bishop,” I think should say it all! What is important is not so much my name, but who I am for you, a father, brother, and friend in the faith.
My dear Mom would often say, “There is no coincidence, only Providence!” Now I’d like to share something that is not coincidental, but rather Providential. In my office at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Philadelphia hangs a bronze bas relief of the Crucifixion, in the style of Donatello. This moving piece of sacred art has a small plaque at the bottom which indicates it has been handed down over the years from one bishop to another. Here’s what the plaque says, “From Archbishop Joseph Schrembs to Archbishop Edward Hoban to Archbishop John Krol to Archbishop John Foley.” It was given to me in December 2011 by Cardinal Foley shortly before he died. Archbishop Schrembs, who of course was the first Bishop of Toledo, started handing on this piece of art which is now in the possession of his successor, this eighth Bishop of Toledo. Archbishop Schrembs ordained Cardinal Krol a priest. Cardinal Krol ordained me a priest. That piece of art originated in Ohio, made its way to Philadelphia, and now is coming home to Ohio! Some would say this is a sign from God! Others might say it is just too much! I would say it’s a rather extraordinary symbol of the priestly and episcopal connection your new bishop has to his new diocese!
There is no coincidence, only Providence! Again, the date I learned of the Holy Father’s appointment was August 14th, the Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan priest who gave up his life for a father of a family in a Nazi death camp, and who had a strong devotion to Our Lady. Today, on this announcement date, August 26th, we celebrate Our Lady of Czestochowa, great Patroness of Poland for whom Pope John Paul II had such a tender devotion. How wonderful then that on the date of the Installation, October 22nd, we will celebrate the very first feast day of Pope John Paul II as a Saint! There is no coincidence, only Providence!
I certainly look forward to getting to know you, all of our rural, suburban and urban parishes, all the institutions and ministries of the diocese. In fact, today, I am very happy that I will be able to make several visits throughout the diocese.
I look forward to my first meal at Tony Packo’s, to my first Mudhens game, to trying some of the treats at the Spangler Candy Company. I look forward to enjoying Lake Erie, my first time to the Opera, the Symphony and the Museum of Art, to rooting for Ohio State, and to figuring out how in the world to walk the tightrope between rooting for Toledo, Detroit, Cincinnati or Cleveland teams! And I look forward to that day when someone, please God, might say: “Wow, that’s a miracle, a Philadelphian became a Toledoan!”
Most of all, I look forward, as your Bishop, to preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to celebrate the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, to teach and defend our Catholic Faith, to lead and strengthen you so that together we might be more vibrant and courageous disciples of the Lord. In so doing, it is my fervent hope and prayer that the weak and the vulnerable, the poor and the needy, indeed all of us, might experience more deeply the love and mercy of Christ.
Con gran alegria saludo a todos los fieles hispanos de la diòcesis y espero junto a ustedes proclamar el Evangelio de Jesucristo! Es una bendicion estar aqui en Ohio como su nuevo Obispo! Por favor, sepan que mi amor y mis oraciones están con ustedes, y espero poder aprender español mucho mejor en el futuro!
Today, I would be remiss if I did not mention and remember good Bishop Robert Donnelly, the retired Auxiliary Bishop of Toledo, whose loss you mourned only one month ago; and Cardinal Edmund Szoka, whose Funeral Mass will be celebrated in Detroit later this morning. May the merciful Lord grant them eternal rest and the reward of their labors.
It is my sincere prayer that I may be a faithful, humble, holy and ardent bishop for Toledo, and that I may spend myself for love of souls in teaching, governing and sanctifying in the name of Jesus for the sake of His Church.
Starting today, I entrust my episcopal ministry to Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, the Patroness of our Cathedral. Mary has been a mother to me as long as I can remember, and I entrust all of you to her tender motherly care, begging her to embrace you, care for you, and intercede for you with her Son.
Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever!