BY ANDREW SENSENIG OMI
Leading up to the Super Bowl weekend (where my team the New England Patriots won!), we were being bombarded with a saying attributed to Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick; “Do your job.”
The quote struck me in an unusual way, because it is similar to how I would summarize the lesson that I learned from our Bishop Edward Burns as he leaves us and heads off to the Diocese of Dallas. I know that I am on dangerous territory, because our Bishop Burns completely loves his Pittsburgh Steelers, and being linked to a quote by a New England Patriot could be viewed as something not pleasant. So please, Bishop Burns, do not take offense, but you live out that statement of “Do your job” in a powerful way.
It is rare for a missionary priest, for I am a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, to know a bishop. OMI missionaries are often called to serve in a community, and when there are enough diocesan priests to replace us, we move on. We only serve in places where there is a need.
When I came to Southeast Alaska, I was struck with how Bishop Burns took the time to talk with me personally and offer advice on how to be a good priest here. The one thing that Bishop Burns stressed was that he wanted me to be a man of reverence for the Lord. Now that might sound a little “tiptoe through tulips” for some, but it hit me to the core that Bishop Burns was very serious.
He desired that I would not be your phony baloney pious “acting” priest, but a priest who knows what it means to be a priest from the inside out. It was a challenging and powerful conversation. After that encounter, I started to hold a Holy Hour at St. Gregory’s Church daily, which inspired me each day to take stock in what it means to be a priest before the Blessed Sacrament.
I am grateful to Bishop Burns for not only his encouragement, but how he would demonstrate to me what he meant by “reverence,” living it in everything he does. This way of reverence can be simply summed up in the phrase: “live your Faith… daily.”
It is a daring way to live, because you take advantage of each moment as an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, because you might not get that opportunity again. Bishop Burns not only reminds me of Bill Belichick, but of another Bishop, who also challenged everyone to do their best for the Lord and that is the founder of our religious community, St. Eugene de Mazenod.
Thank you, Bishop Burns for being our Bishop, and for being a man of reverence for the Lord. Thank you most of all for helping me to be a better Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate. Safe travels and travel safe. You will always have my prayers.