New Joliet Bishop Conlon Talks About Being Sent to Serve by Christ

Homily: 'The one sent must remain faithful to the sender.'

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill.
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill. (photo: Diocese of Joliet)

JOLIET, Ill. (EWTN News) — During his installation Mass, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., stressed the need for bishops to be humble, courageous and conscious of their role as someone sent by God.

“I did not seek to be a bishop, nor am I worthy to be one,” he said in his homily. “This is all someone else’s idea. And, although God may use human instruments, in the end, it is his idea.”

“With Christ Jesus, the ultimate apostle, as the model, nothing central to our faith starts with us: not the Scriptures, not the sacraments, not the doctrines, not the moral principles. Nor can we treat God’s household as though it were our own,” he continued.

The bishop’s installation took place at Joliet’s Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus on July 14. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Joliet auxiliary Bishop Joseph Siegel were among the concelebrants of the Mass. Also present was Bishop Conlon’s predecessor in Joliet, J. Peter Sartain, who became the archbishop of Seattle in December 2010.

The Diocese of Joliet covers 4,218 square miles south of Chicago, according to the Diocese of Joliet 2011 directory. About 665,000 Catholics are among the 1.9 million people living in its territory.

Bishop Conlon noted the bishop’s role as a successor of the apostles who are “sent” by Jesus. They are not designated as “smart or experienced or holy,” but rather as “those who are sent.”

Accepting this role requires humility, steadfastness and courage, he said: “The one sent must remain faithful to the sender, no matter what.”

In his homily, the bishop reflected about how those who borrow their beliefs from popular culture will “always be right” in their own mind.

“But where is the sense of being sent, of being beholden to the God, who revealed himself through the one Word made flesh? Who continues to guide the one Church by the one Spirit?” he asked. “Indeed, without the sense of being sent, there is no oneness at all. We are just individuals thinking and doing our own thing — and presuming God agrees with us.”

The prophets of Israel, the apostles and the Virgin Mary were all sent by God, the bishop continued. Jesus, too, said: “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

“There is something freeing about being sent,” he continued, saying this involves participating in partnership with the God who created us and promises us eternal life.

His homily closed with a question: “Why not allow him to send us as instruments of his truth, his holiness, his justice and his mercy?”

The Cincinnati-born Bishop Conlon formerly headed the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, and many Ohioans attended the Mass.

As he brought his homily to a close, the bishop specifically addressed his new flock in Illinois.

“You represent the vitality and diversity of hundreds of thousands of good people who have been called to faith in Christ Jesus and membership in his Church,” he told local Catholics at the Mass. “What a joy it is for me to be with you.”