Message from Bishop Edward J. Burns
to the Faithful of the Diocese of Juneau
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 18th, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Shortly after Thanksgiving I received a phone call from the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington informing me that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, had appointed me Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas. Needless to say, I was surprised. I am humbled and honored by his confidence in me to lead the 1.3 million Catholic faithful of the Dallas diocese as their shepherd.
I had the same feelings eight years ago when I received a similar phone call from the nuncio, informing me that Pope Benedict had chosen me to be the shepherd of this diocese. I remember with gratitude the whole-hearted welcome I received when I came here, by the Catholic faithful, ministers and clergy of this diocese and by so many people living in the communities of Southeast Alaska.
I give thanks to Almighty God for the privilege and honor of serving as your bishop over these past years. It has been an adventure, a challenge and an absolute joy being in Southeast Alaska. I am grateful for dedication, faith and example of the people of this diocese and for each one of my collaborators in ministry: full-time and volunteer lay ministers and my brother priests and deacons. You have taught me how to be a bishop. Whatever I have been able to accomplish during these years as your shepherd has depended on the grace of God and your hard work and generosity. All of this for the greater glory of God and mission of the Church. Thank you!
Mary, the first disciple, teaches us that as disciples of Jesus, each of us must be ready at all times to respond with obedience and confidence to the Lord’s call. In this Sunday’s gospel, the evangelist Luke tells us how Mary, after learning that she was to be the mother of the Savior, “set out and traveled” to the house of her cousin Elizabeth.
Having received this call from the successor of St. Peter, I now “set out and travel” as well to my new home – the Diocese of Dallas. I must admit, it was not easy for me to come to Southeast Alaska, and now, it is not easy to leave. All of you have been a blessing to me. I ask that you stay strong in the faith and stay close to Jesus Christ. Continue to advance the Gospel message in any way you can – especially through your charitable acts. I am confident that in due time the Lord will send you a good and holy shepherd.
The people of this diocese, the communities of Southeast Alaska and this beautiful land that you call home, will always have a special place in my heart and in my prayers. These years have been a blessing to me.
Through the intercession of St.Thérèse of Lisieux, our patroness, I pray that the Lord will bless you, your loved ones and this wonderful Diocese of Juneau and Southeast Alaska. In turn, I ask that you please remember me in your prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Edward J. Burns