Dear Friends in Christ,
Last week I was blessed to attend the ordination of the new Auxiliary Bishop of Las Vegas, Bishop Gregory Gordon. We have been friends since 1980 and it was such a blessing to spend a week celebrating this important event in the life of the Church in Las Vegas. The ordination took place on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There was a cardinal present, along with bishops from the west (and our mutual friend, Bishop Schlert, the Bishop of Allentown), along with clergy and the faithful. All toll, I heard that there was nearly 3,000 people present. When one thinks of Las Vegas, of course the casinos come to mind. I did stay at Mandalay Bay, but the casinos were not what caught my attention. There were no shows this trip (my last trip to Las Vegas allowed me to see three different shows that were very different from each other: Rich Little, Donnie and Marie and Jennifer Lopez! No shows, but more importantly this was a week filled with great faith and joy. I was blessed to lay flowers on the grave of my sister who is buried in Las Vegas. The Diocese of Las Vegas is only twenty-five years old and the vibrancy there is palpable. There is no selling of churches or diocesan property in Nevada. They need more churches! I attended nearly seven parties in less than a week. More than once someone yelled out “Viva Las Vegas!” I was waiting for Elvis and Ann Margaret to come out dancing! It was 115 degrees at one point. People say “But it’s a dry heat.” In reality, it was ungodly in the sun. Nevertheless, those days will be emblazoned in my mind as a positive, holy moment. While we must never put our head in the sand, we must always stay positive about our faith. I was in the elevator in my clerical attire returning to my room. A man entered the elevator and said hello. He asked what brought me to “the land of sin”. When I told him why I was visiting, he expressed admiration and wished a blessing on the new bishop. He wondered where I was from as he said I have a funny accent. I told him New Jersey. He was amazed that I would come so far for this religious event. I blessed him as he left the elevator and thought how great it is to be a priest. It was a great couple of days, but by the end, I was glad to get back to New Jersey. I know everyone makes fun of us, but this is the place that I serve God and His beloved flock. For me, this is holy land as the Lord is in our midst. Viva Las Vegas! Viva New Jersey! Above all, Viva Holy Mother Church!
God bless you,