I’m having a hard time moving on from last week.
Just seven days ago, I was boarding a plane heading to Denver. I blogged about my surprise chance to fly to and attend the Mass of our outgoing bishop’s installation as archbishop in this post on Friday.
On Thursday evening as I wrote that post, I was still in my post-Denver haze of joy. I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have, guessed that just hours after leaving that celebratory event, a tragedy was unfolding in Aurora not far from where I’d just been.
“This is definitely not Fargo,” my travel companions and I kept repeating throughout the day, acutely aware of the largeness of the tributary our former bishop had just entered. Would he like it, we wondered? Though we very much were enjoying our time in Denver, the area stood in stark contrast to our small North Dakota diocese. “What a change for him,” we said, over and over again.
Our words turned prophetic hours later. Indeed, the change would be not only big but looming, not to mention immediate. Less than 48 hours after being installed, our former bishop would be met with demands not typical of a newly-installed shepherd — not this soon, anyway. With some of his bags still likely unpacked, his spiritual reserves would be demanded with barely a pause. I can’t imagine the emotional exhaustion he must be enduring, even now.
Here’s the change in visuals from my perspective…
This is the archbishop and me just after his farewell Mass in Fargo on June 24, a month ago, here in Fargo.
I snapped this shot a week ago, July 18, at the reception following the installation ceremony in Denver.
And just a few days later, here he is again, comforting someone from his new flock in Aurora.
|From the Archdiocese of Denver Facebook page|
I realize that whenever something like what happened in Colorado comes to light, we have a tendency, as media and the American public in general, to obsess. In my case, it was inevitable. Everything was way too fresh for me to not feel deeply about what has happened.
Because of my duties back in Fargo, however, I missed hearing about the tragedy in the earliest hours. When the news did finally reach me, I was beyond shocked. I’d just been there, after all, on what seemed like an extraordinarily peaceful day, mixing with other media, checking batteries, sizing out the best spot in the press corner so I would be able to see and hear as much as possible and make note of it.
And in the weeks leading up, I’d been in close contact with communicators from the Archdiocese of Denver, emailing photos of Archbishop Aquila, doing my best to gather up and feed them whatever information they needed to prepare for their new shepherd.
Spiritually, I have felt very connected to Denver and Archbishop Aquila through being part of the behind-the-scenes crew, helping, even in a very small way, to see him through this transition.
I was connected then. I am still. Miniscule as my part has been, I have crossed paths with souls that, just a day after our meeting, were thrust into confronting two extremes of life in a very short amount of time.
This is one press release the archdiocese released not long ago. It was written by Roxanne King, one of the communicators with whom I’ve been exchanging emails.
And days later, another of a different tone.
To most, these are mere statements, words. But I have met the people who help create these documents. They have beating hearts.
This all means that even if I were to close my eyes, turn off the television and pretend this doesn’t affect me personally, a part of me is still in Denver, observing as a good reporter does, searching for signs of faith, looking for hope in the eyes of the people.
Even through my position behind the scenes, I have been changed, altered, affected.
God be with you, kind people of the Denver Archdiocese. You welcomed me, and now I pray for you, along with the spiritual shepherd I have known who now finds his home with you.