Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

Bishop Rojas thanks God for his blessings

November 20, 2011

Editor’s note: At press time, Cardinal George was attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Baltimore. He requested that new Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas fill in for him as columnist this week. Bishop Rojas offered the reflections he gave Aug. 10 at Holy Name Cathedral at the end of the ordination Mass for himself and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych. The cardinal will return to his column in the next issue.

I cannot thank God enough for all his love and the wonderful works he has done for me. All I can do is to continue giving my life to Christ Jesus in service to his saving mission on earth.

Since I was about 13 years old, all I wanted to do with my life was to become a priest and serve Christ and his church. When I was installed as a pastor I told God, “This is it, Lord. After this, you can take me back home with you anytime.” I never thought that I would be called to be a bishop. I never expected that Christ Jesus would call me to serve his church this way. But obviously, my plans are not necessarily God’s plans for me and he does not take my advice.

When I called my mother on the phone to let her know what was going on, she already knew; then she asked me, “What is that going to mean for you now, more work and more responsibility?”

I said, “Yes, Mom, more work, more responsibility, and more praying on your part for me.”

And she said, “I have been praying for you even before you were born.” Then she said, “But, why would they give that to you?”

And I said, “Exactly, Mom. Isn’t God’s sense of humor great?”

However, do you know what is the best part of all this? That it is not about me. That it is all about Christ and his mission and that now, I am a bishop for Christ and for you. And as my mother would always say, “If this is coming from God, let it be done as God wants it.” That’s what I am trying to do.

I would like to thank God for the gift of life he gave me, and for the calling to the priesthood. I would like to thank God for the gift of Christ in the Eucharist; for the gift of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. I would like to thank His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for naming me bishop.

I would like to thank His Eminence Francis Cardinal George for his trust and confidence in me. I feel fortunate to know that 14 years ago, His Eminence also ordained me a priest in the same beautiful place, our Holy Name Cathedral.

I thank all of the priests who have nurtured me and guided me as I learned about being a priest and about the diverse and wonderful people of this archdiocese. I thank the Catholic faithful whose guidance and hunger for God have taught, encouraged and inspired me.

I would like to thank my parents and family for all the support and prayers. Especially, I thank my mother for raising me and teaching me about God. I thank my dad for providing for me and helping me get my citizenship in this country. May you rest in peace, Dad.

Many thanks to my friends and brother priests who came from Mexico and California, as well as from Chicago to attend this ordination. You are an inspiration to me.

I look forward to continue working with Cardinal George, my brother bishops, the deans, my fellow priests and the religious and laypeople of the archdiocese.

So many things matter. It will be important for me to protect every newly conceived child, every person near the end of life. Every person is special. I want to honor you, respect you, and pay attention to you, no matter who you are.

It will be important for me to walk with you in faith; to strengthen our faith in the midst of many challenges; to reach out to those who are struggling, alienated, weary and impoverished; to attend to lifelong Chicagoans and to the next generation of immigrants like myself; to preach and teach as Jesus did; to celebrate God’s love in the sacraments; to be a good though unworthy shepherd.

One million Spanish speakers have come to Chicago practicing a vigorous Catholicism. I embrace the challenge of working to maintain that faith through cooperation with the grace of God. I trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I will miss the people of Good Shepherd Parish, of whom I became so fond as pastor for one short year. We will still walk together in the vicariate. Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I have kept you from the moment I was assigned to you.

I love the richness of our Catholic faith that has been expressed through many means such as paintings, music, poetry, architecture, etc. May everything we do, be done for the greater glory of God who is The Beauty per excellence.

I would like to thank all of you who were present at the ordination; all those who represented the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago for your support and your prayers, and for your great generous hearts. Thank you so very much. Let us keep on praying for one another. May God bless you and always give you his peace.

— Bishop Alberto Rojas
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago