By Msgr. Hugh J. Shields

When we were students in St. Charles Seminary, one of our professors told us that if we did not learn to say both “yes” and “no” to requests from our people as young priests that we would become “old priests” who only said “no” to our people’s requests and needs.

That phrase struck me as I concelebrated a Spanish Mass with Bishop Robert Maginnis a few weeks ago at St. Alice Parish. Father Peter Welsh, on behalf of his team, had invited Bishop Maginnis to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation and Eucharist in Spanish with some young adults from the Hispanic community. And Bishop Maginnis – just a few weeks before the official announcement of his retirement -said “yes!”

As anyone of us who is asked to communicate in a “second language” knows, that “yes” can be a real workout and test.{{more}}

But I think that event with Bishop Maginnis highlighted what was so clearly evident during his entire priesthood: his desire to be of service, his willingness to put himself in an uncomfortable position, his good humor, his sincerity and most of all, his wanting to accompany the people entrusted to him.

Bishop Maginnis has had many pastoral experiences in his many years in service to the Lord and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The role of Auxiliary Bishop with our Hispanic community in these last years of Bishop Maginnis’ ministry have been accompanied by much of the same desire to serve that was present in his early priesthood.

There are lots of things – large and small – that Bishop Maginnis has done with, and for, our Hispanic community. His care and sharing of people’s needs, challenges, disappointments and joys do not go unnoticed. And his active presence with the Hispanic ministry will be missed. (Bishop Maginnis’ successor, Bishop-elect McIntyre, has a good, caring role model in Bishop Maginnis’ example.)

On behalf of the Hispanic community, I would like to say thank you to Bishop Maginnis for all his years of service to our Archdiocese and, in particular, to our Hispanic community. We promise our prayers and offer best wishes for a more relaxed schedule in “retirement.”

We have been the beneficiaries of your priesthood, Bishop, because you – through prayer, celebration of Eucharist, maintaining a close relationship with the Lord, the practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy – have maintained your ability to continually say “yes” to God’s next invitation to you.

But since we know that you can celebrate Mass in Spanish, we are keeping your phone number handy!

God’s blessings on you in this new chapter of your ministry.

Msgr. Hugh Shields is the Vicar for Hispanic Catholics of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.