Here I am Lord!

We are often steered in different directions in our lives, at times having no clue where we are headed. But generally we find ourselves, even though in unfamiliar territory, where we need to be. Yes these roads may be tumultuous, may require a detour or two, and even have us yearning to turn back, but we persevere and allow the possibilities to take hold. 

We have been fortunate and blessed to have Bishop George W. Coleman as the shepherd of our diocese since 2003. He has traveled many a road, choosing as the disciples did, to follow Christ, to minister to God’s people. Our diocese gained a gentle, kind man as a priest 49 years ago, who went on to become our bishop. Not an easy task to undertake, but yet he did. 

Not many of us will be asked to take on such monumental work, to lead people in troubled as well as good times, to be a true servant of God. Yet is not our mission similar, are we not asked to follow the example of Christ, to serve one another? To be there for those in need, to comfort and console, to insure justice is found, to treat each other as equals, to search for and recognize Jesus in each and everyone we meet? To be a true disciple of Christ in every meaning of the word? Over the years, Bishop Coleman has served his people well; he has embodied the gifts of the Spirit, and has looked to all as children of God. 

So what are the requirements of being a bishop? A bishop is someone who shares fully in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, who teaches doctrine, governs his people, sanctifying the Word and representing the Church. He is someone who embodies the role of the Apostles, who by virtue of the Holy Spirit, is given the tools necessary to spread the Good News to all within his jurisdiction. Living not only by His words but by His deeds and actions, and possessing the qualities deemed vital for this role: morality, piety, a solid faith, wisdom and prudence to list just a few. 

Bishop Coleman has been this and so much more. Since coming to work for the diocese in 2007, I have had many opportunities to see our bishop in action. He is truly a man for his people with education and formation foremost on his agenda. Working as I do for the Office of Faith Formation, I have seen the zeal in which this diocese strives to evangelize the faithful, its dogged determination to help them encounter Christ in their day-to-day lives, and to connect with Scripture, bringing it to life in their current situation. 

It has been a pleasure and honor to serve under Bishop Coleman, and to see him strive to empower God’s people. To guide them, leading them to the well, sheltering them from the storm, and giving them a safe haven when trouble was at their heels. Like a true shepherd he stood watch over his flock, leading the way, always bringing them home, and caring enough to seek out those who had gotten lost along the way.

As a member of your flock, I thank you for your gentleness, your kindness and your willingness to serve the people of this diocese. You have truly been an example of Christ among us, leading us, teaching us, and reminding us of the greatest Commandment of all, “To love your neighbor, as you love yourself.” We will miss you, and with heartfelt gratitude we pray that God will continue to bless you as you enjoy your much-needed and well-deserved rest, knowing that you have led your people well. And most importantly, we thank you for responding, “Here I am Lord,” when God asked, “Whom shall I send?” 

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva lives in Fall River and is a parishioner of St. Michael’s Parish, and she is the Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. She is married with three children and two grandchildren. rsaraiva@dfrcs.com.

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