6 Bishops Talk About Saints They Admire
“The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history.” —Pope St. John Paul II
I asked six diocesan bishops in the United States to name a saint (or, someone they’d like to see canonized) whom they admired and why. Here are the answers they gave.
Bishop of Arlington, Virginia Michael Burbidge (and former Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina) on Servant of God Fr. Thomas Price (1860-1919)
He was a true missionary, and a man of bold vision and courage. He was the first native born North Carolinian to become a priest, and he wanted to share his faith with everyone he met. He had a love for the poor and a vision to purchase the Nazareth property [on which the new Raleigh cathedral was built]. At the dedication of the cathedral, we were blessed to have present family members of those who once lived in the orphanage. We are blessed to have the example of Fr. Price.
Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri Robert Carlson on Pope St. John Paul II
I admire Pope St. John Paul II. He was a man of prayer. He believed in freedom of religion, and battled for years with the communists. I met him on a number of occasions. Once, for example, when I was an auxiliary bishop for Archbishop John Roach of St. Paul and Minneapolis, I recall him saying of me: “He’s a very young bishop. He has many years of suffering ahead.”
Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Paul S. Coakley on Blessed Stanley Rother (1935-81)
Fr. Stanley Rother was a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He was a devoted pastor and shepherd. He has a remarkable story …
… He was an alumnus of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where I studied. I consider it a gift of Providence that I was appointed to Oklahoma City, and have had the chance to study his life and oversee the canonical cause for his canonization.
Fr. Rother had many good qualities. He was a farm boy, close to the Earth. He was comfortable working with his hands in the dirt. He did not put on airs; he was a hard-working, dedicated pastor. I think he is a wonderful example for parish priests. He was dedicated to his people, even when his life was in danger. He put aside his own needs to attend to his parishioners. Although he was not a brilliant student, he overcame challenges to become an effective, heroic priest.
Bishop of Spokane, Washington Thomas Daly on St. Vincent de Paul
I have a great devotion to St. Vincent de Paul. He is known for his work with the poor, but he did much to reform the clergy, which is needed in our day as well as in his. Until the 1960s, the Vincentian Fathers did most of the teaching in our Catholic seminaries. The Vincentian spirituality really emphasizes faith in action. I realize it is an overused term these days, but St. Vincent really called priests to servant-leadership.
Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin Robert Morlino on St. Teresa of Calcutta and Pope St. John Paul II
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have met two great saints: Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul. They show the greatness of what can be accomplished with one’s life. During one of my meetings with Pope John Paul, he said to me, “If the Pope is afraid, then the Church is afraid. And, the Church must never be afraid.” That’s always very alive in my mind.
Archbishop of Portland, Oregon Alexander Sample (formerly Bishop of Marquette, Michigan) on Venerable Frederic Baraga (1797-1868), the first bishop of Marquette
I admire Bishop Baraga (1797-1868) for his incredible zeal as a missionary priest and bishop. I think all priests and bishops need the example of someone like Fredric Baraga. He’s a perfect model for us, and I pray he is beatified. His life is such an inspiration.
I first discovered him when I was driving to visit the vocation director of Marquette, before I became a seminarian. In the town of L’Anse (northwest Michigan) there is a statue of Bishop Baraga holding a cross in one hand, and snowshoes in the other. I said a prayer to him, asking him to intercede for me, that my meeting with the vocation director would go well. I admitted to him that I didn’t know too much about him (at that time!)
From that moment on, I’ve had a strong connection to him. When I was named that holy man’s successor, I went to his tomb to pray. I’ve been happy to move his cause along. He’s a powerful figure in the history of our Church, and a role model to us in the New Evangelization.