On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the spirit of these two great saints was very much present as a new bishop was ordained in Colorado Springs.
Bishop James R. Golka was consecrated and installed as the third bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs following the retirement of Bishop Michael J. Sheridan’s, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis earlier this year. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila was the chief consecrator and celebrant of the Mass, which took place at Holy Apostles Church in Colorado Springs.
Listen to Archbishop Aquila’s full homily from Bishop Golka’s ordination:
It was a fitting day for new bishop to be ordained through the laying on of hands by Archbishop Aquila, Bishop Sheridan, Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Bishop Golka’s home diocese, and the other bishops present. After all, it was Peter who was the first bishop of the Church, and through the apostolic succession of the Church, his episcopal lineage could be traced through history to that day on June 29, when Bishop Golka was infused with the same Holy Spirit as St. Peter was, over 2,000 years ago.
Archbishop Aquila pointed to the examples Sts. Peter and Paul and related them to Bishop Golka’s new episcopal duty as the shepherd of the faithful in Colorado Springs.
“What you are entrusted with today is to wash the feet of all of the faithful of the Church in Colorado Springs,” Archbishop Aquila told Bishop Golka. “You are to be the one who, like Simon Peter, points ton Jesus Christ, like Paul, who in his experience and encounter with Christ, was able to cry out, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me. It is no longer I who live, but I am crucified with Christ, and it is he, Christ, who lives in me.'”
In the challenges that will be presented as a bishop, Archbishop Aquila urged Bishop Golka to rely on Jesus Christ first and foremost, to allow him to carry the new bishop through the struggles and trials, and to always point the faithful toward Christ in all that he does.
“He and he alone is the one who can rescue us, and it is to him we must point,” Archbishop Aquila said. “In the midst of the trials and sufferings that you may experience as a bishop, depend on Jesus Christ. Not your power, not your authority but the power and authority of the one you serve, Jesus Christ, and proclaiming that Gospel. He will give you the grace and the strength you need to be his witness in the times in which we find ourselves.
The archbishop also stressed that there will be times when Bishop Golka will be called to fraternal correction and holding others accountable to the Gospel, and that it must be tough yet also tender and rooted in mercy. Christ is the example for this too, the archbishop said, pointing to the times when he rebuked Peter in the Gospels.
“We must be those who take the fullness of the Gospel, knowing that it is only living the fullness of the Gospel that we will experience its joy,” Archbishop Aquila concluded. “Jesus has taught us that we must always be attached to him, that he is the vine, and we are the branches. My beloved brother, stay attached to him and know that he is faithful, that you will bear fruit the more you attach yourself to him. For as he teaches us in John 15, ‘apart from me, you can do nothing.'”
Bishop Golka is formerly a priest of the Diocese of Grand Island in Nebraska, where he has served for over 25 years. In addition serving as parochial vicar and pastor of various parishes, Bishop Golka has also held posts as the Director of Ongoing Formation of Clergy, Director of Diocesan Youth Retreats and Vicar General for the Diocese of Grand Island.
During the traditional solemn vespers that take place the evening before a bishop’s ordination, Bishop Golka shared an experience in prayer that he had a few weeks prior during a retreat in which Jesus washed his feet.
“How key it is to allow Jesus to care for you,” Bishop Golka said. “To allow Jesus to wipe you clean. To alllow Jesus to love you. At the the end of that day, I had spent a day just being loved by my Lord, and I could not wait to go and tell people about it. For anybody who is a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, we’ve got to first know how much Jesus loves us. He’s fascinated by you. Our Savior has come and he shows us the way. Then maybe after we’ve been loved by the Lord, then we can become more like him for the rest of the world.”
Featured Photo by Corey Davis/The Colorado Catholic Herald