12 March 2011

With Deepest Thanks: We Bid Farewell to Bishop Ricard

11 MARCH 2011. Here in the northwest corner of Florida, otherwise known as L.A. (Lower Alabama) or Red Hills Country, we have known and loved a shepherd of our local church for many years. However, it was announced today that the Holy Father has accepted Bishop John Ricard's request to retire for health reasons. Archbishop Thomas Wenski will serve as diocesan administrator until a new bishop is appointed by the Holy Father.

While Bishop Ricard came to us by way of the Archdiocese of the Baltimore in the Northeast, he is, indeed, one of us. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he is a native of the Sunbelt and no stranger to our ways of culture and the peculiar, some would say, manners that we exhibit. "Yes Ma'm."

However, Bishop Ricard is indeed not just one of us. He has served us as an exemplar of Christian living that we aspire to--to truly place ourselves in service to our Lord through love for our neighbor. Bishop Ricard's love for his flock and his ministry and individuals that he addresses as a bishop--and as a fellow man--is evident. My first grade daughter loves Bishop Ricard--he probably does not know her name. She has only seen him at the hand full of school masses that he has celebrated at her school over the last two school years; but, she has gotten hugs from him and she tells me how much he loves her and all the school children.

The eyes and ears of babes are most attuned to love. The world has not yet impressed the callus of experience on their hearts.

God bless Bishop John Ricard now and in his future endeavors. He has notified the people of the diocese that he will return to St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C. to serve as spiritual director there--"which will provide [him] a less rigorous ministry within the Church." Yet his service to the Church and the people of God will continue.

This Sunday, 13 March, there will be two farewell receptions at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More following the 10:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. masses. All are welcome. I would encourage anyone who can attend to do so: please extend a warm hand--or hug--to our faithful pastor that has served the Church in this corner of the world so well.

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