Pope Francis has named Father Robert Barron to be one of three new auxiliary bishops to Los Angeles, and we here at Patheos Catholic could not be happier for him, and for the honor this does to all of our friends at Word on Fire Ministries. Father Barron’s group has embraced new media and helped define it as a tool of infinite evangelical possibilities. The original programming and videos they produce are smart, energetic and just plain beautiful to look at. They are very much this era’s answer to the dynamic programming of Bishop Fulton Sheen, in the past.
Back when Father Barron was enticing the rest of us with the promising visuals and scope of his “Catholicism Project” — which included perhaps the first great book on the faith of the 21st Century,Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (I called it “a course in revolution”) and a video series on the beauty and foundation of the faith that was so well-done, PBS picked it up for broadcasting — he generously contributed to our 2010 symposium on the Future of Religion with thoughts on the challenges and chances facing our new priests. I think it gives a sound clue to the people of Los Angeles, just what sort of shepherd they will be experiencing, in Barron:
Be strong and holy priests. Remain focused on prayer, both private and public; live your lives with integrity, realizing that you are a priest whether before human eyes, or God’s alone; preach with energy and panache; love your people the way parents love their children. The many institutional changes that the church has made in regard to the protection of children are, obviously, indispensable, but they alone will never constitute an adequate response to the scandal. What is crucial is the decency of your generation of priests.
Don’t think of this as an unfair expectation, but rather as a thrilling opportunity. […]
I really believe that now is a great time to be a priest. Some of the holiest saints have emerged during periods much like our own, fraught with difficulties and rich in opportunities. Don’t shrink from any of it, brothers. Ad multos annos!
As the participants in this year’s revisit to that symposium topic have indicated, the future of the Church in America looks itself to be “fraught with difficulties and rich in opportunities”; most of them feel that this is an exciting time to be Catholic, and Barron certainly seems to concur. He has the energy, the creativity and the imagination to effectively shepherd the sheep through the bare moors and prickling brush, and into the fields where they may safely graze. God bless you, Bishop-Elect Barron! You have our prayers!
Washington Post, here