Prayers and Best Wishes for Bishop Martin D. Holley
When Jesus had concluded his earthly ministry, before ascending to heavenly glory he sent out his Apostles to continue his work of bringing the Good News of salvation to humanity. The Lord told them to “go into the whole world” and be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” to teach all that he has taught and to “make disciples of all nations” (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19).
This notion of “being sent” is one of the marks of an apostolic Church. This is a commission given to us all as disciples of Christ by virtue of our baptism, but it applies in a particular way to the successors of the Apostles, those who have been consecrated as bishops and entrusted with the care of a portion of God’s flock in local churches around the world, which together in communion with the pope as Peter make up the one Church Universal.
During his visit here one year ago this week, Pope Francis spoke of “a Church which goes forth, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God.” He pointed particularly to newly-canonized Father Junípero Serra, who “was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.”
Now Bishop Martin D. Holley joins Saint Junípero as he goes forth himself from our spiritual home in the Church of Washington to proclaim anew the Good News of Jesus Christ in his new calling as the fifth Bishop of Memphis. This Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception we will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving, praising God for the blessing of Bishop Holley’s time with us, and I invite you to join us.
In bidding Bishop Holley farewell, personally and on behalf of the Archdiocese of Washington, I would like to express to him our gratitude. During his twelve years here as auxiliary bishop, he provided dedicated service to the Lord and his Church, including his work as Vicar General and Chairman for the College of Deans which oversees the archdiocese’s fourteen deaneries, and his care for the pastoral ministries to the many ethnic and language communities in the archdiocese, where he experienced first-hand the universality of the Church. In a particular way, I want to thank my brother bishop for his always kind assistance in my own episcopal ministry and for his friendship.
The news from Pope Francis last month that Bishop Holley was “being sent” to shepherd the Diocese of Memphis was met here with great joy for him and for our sisters and brothers there in western Tennessee, knowing that they are receiving a talented and caring pastor in these times of the New Evangelization. He has demonstrated pastoral sensitivity and administrative ability that should serve his spiritual flock well. Certainly all who have been touched by him during his time here will attest to his engaging warmth and many gifts of mind and heart.
Bishop Holley’s choice for his episcopal motto, “His Mercy Endures,” is testimony of his humble appreciation of God’s love in his life, as well as his profound awareness of the critical need in our world today for people to know, experience, and trust in the Lord’s tender care and healing mercies. As he explained when he was first named a bishop by Saint John Paul II twelve years ago, “as a bishop, the Lord was calling me to experience the profound graces of his mercy and to extend his mercy to others.”
Now the Lord is calling Bishop Holley to lead the Diocese of Memphis in its mission of mercy to be “a Good Samaritan on the banks of the Mississippi,” proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s saving love and liberating truth amidst the human condition. While we will miss his presence here, as people of faith we know that in the Lord we remain in communion with him and all our spiritual sisters and brothers in Memphis as together we seek to manifest the kingdom of God coming to be.
Please join me in offering Bishop Holley your prayers and spiritual support. We wish him every grace and blessing as he now undertakes his new ministry.