Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Message from Bishop Gainer for People of the Diocese of Harrisburg

On June 14, Bishop Ronald Gainer recorded a final video message for the people of the Diocese of Harrisburg. The text of the video, which can be found online here, is published below.

My dear brothers and sisters, it’s hard to think that this will be one of my final messages to you as your bishop. In just a few days, our Diocese will welcome Bishop Timothy Senior as the Twelfth Bishop of Harrisburg, and I will begin a new role as the Bishop Emeritus.

I remember receiving the call in 2014 from the Apostolic Nuncio telling me I was the next Bishop of Harrisburg. It was unexpected, but now, nine years later, it seems that it was only yesterday that I received that phone call. My time as your bishop has certainly flown by.

When I reflect back, there have been many good times and also times when we were challenged. There were times when the path seemed straightforward, but also times when it seemed that we didn’t know where the next bend in the path may take us.

Recently, I was asked to reflect back on what I have enjoyed the most as your bishop. As a pastor at heart, meeting the people of the Diocese, meeting with you, and passing on our faith, especially through the celebration of the sacraments, has been one of my greatest joys. Whether at an Ordination or during my many trips to the parishes throughout the Diocese to confirm our young people; to come to a parish to bless an addition or a renovation; to visit one of our many schools and go through the classrooms; meeting with you, listening to your concerns, your hopes, and your prayers, are memories and experiences that I will never forget. It has been my greatest joy, and my greatest privilege, to serve you as your chief shepherd, teacher and sanctifier.

Your prayers and support, both in the worst of our times and in our best, have meant more to me than I can ever express.

As my retirement nears, I also want to thank my brother priests and the deacons of our Diocese. Thank you. Thank you for giving of yourselves time and time again. Thank you for supporting our Diocese through some of our most challenging times in our history. And thank you for being a partner with me in shepherding your local flocks.

I thank also the wonderful men and women religious who, through their religious vows, through the charisms of their religious communities, witness to the holiness of the Church and do such wonderful ministry among us here in the Diocese.

Goodbyes are never easy, and this is certainly not a “goodbye,” but rather “I’ll see you around.” As our journey together comes to a close and my retirement draws near, please continue to pray for me and pray for Bishop Senior as we both experience this time of change. As we read in Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

As we enter this season of change, I leave you with one final blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine upon you. May the Lord lift up his countenance to you and give you his peace. And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit come down on you now and remain with you forever.

May God bless each of you and know that I will continue to keep you in my prayers. Thank you for all your support and love during my time as the Eleventh Bishop of Harrisburg.

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