Bishop Libasci, Named to Manchester, Remembers the Baltimore Catechism

Yesterday was a big day for the 300,000 Catholics in New Hampshire.  Pope Benedict XVI named Most Rev. Peter Anthony Libasci as the tenth bishop of Manchester.

A New York native, Libasci has served since 2007 as Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.  Bishop Libasci is bi-ritual—that is, he is able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Ruthenian Rite as well as in the more familiar Latin Rite.

Bishop Libasci’s coat of arms will bear his motto “Arise and Walk.”  The text he chose is derived from the account of the Petrine ministry in Acts 3:1-10, where Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold but what I have I give you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Arise and walk.”

It’s evident that Bishop Libasci, like so many of the baby boom generation, cut his teeth on the Baltimore Catechism.  In his remarks at his appointment, he recited the familiar answer to Questions #1 and #2.

I desire so much to share in this work that is ours:  to be true to and thus carry on the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember well and am thankful for the words of a formula memorized so long ago:  Why did God make you?  God made me to know Him and to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

The words can be memorized, but we all know that they only take on their greatest meaning and significance when they are put into practice; when they are lived:  when we deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, when Holy Eucharist becomes more and more a cause of joy, and when caring for each person’s dignity and well-being is not a labor but true compassion and care for a neighbor.

And speaking of the Baltimore Catechism– one of my favorite folk singers is Michael Smith (not the one with the “W” in the middle).  I never hear the strains of Smith’s “Sister Clarissa,” at whose knee he learned about the Faith, without smiling and tearing up—but here goes!  I’d like to dedicate this to Sister Amabilis, Sister Mary Gracille, Sister Richard, Sister Modesta, Sister Patricia, Sister Sophia, Sister Edward, and all the rest who wait for me in the place prepared by the Father.

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