Here I am in 99 degree-heat greeting you, dear brothers and sisters, from the heart of Bolivia. We landed safely in Santa Cruz – after a long, unscheduled, delay in La Paz at 13,500 ft. above sea level, where the air is very thin. It was quite difficult to breathe and many of the passengers needed oxygen – I came very close to calling for it.

Today the weather is glorious – hot and a little overcast. Bishop-elect Flock’s family and many priest friends, including many from our diocese, are here to celebrate his episcopal ordination and consecration tomorrow (Thursday) at the Cathedral of St. Sebastian in Cochabamba about 311 miles away from Santa Cruz.

Monsignor Joseph Hirsch seems to be gearing up for his new job as Pastor of Holy Cross Parish at Santa Cruz. He has been well received. I joined him in a staff meeting at the parish this morning after breakfast. I tried to explain our dilemma about future priests coming to Santa Cruz. Decisions will have to be made in the future.

Father John Swing, a former Pastor of Holy Cross Parish, certainly is enjoying some “old time” catching up along with Father Bill Menzel, the Bishop-elect’s former Latin teacher. Msgrs. Gorman, Scheckel, and McGarty have also been holding up well. Stan Gould is recording the events in pictures and sound for a future headline story in The Catholic Times.

It seems as though all of us who gave Bishop-elect Flock miters as gifts, gave him ones that were at least a size or two too big. It has been enjoyable to see them fall over his ears. Some modifications will be made locally. Fortunately, the one he ordered for himself arrived, and it fits “just right.”

Tomorrow morning we will make our way to Cochabamba by plane and participate in the grand ceremony in the evening that will elevate another of the priests of the Diocese of La Crosse to rank of Successor to the Apostles!

You are all here celebrating the beauty of the Church with us!

Let’s share our joy at Sunday Mass – see you there!

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