What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: October 29, 2007
I usually begin to write my weekly column over the weekend. It is the time when I am most often with you at some parish ceremony or an Archdiocesan event. The weekend is a time when I can reflect upon what has transpired or is happening in this local Church. This week I am starting my column as I fly over the Italian Alps in route back home from my trip to Rome. The topic of this column has been on my mind and heart for the past several weeks.
On Monday morning, Nov. 5, I will undergo prostate surgery at Emory University Hospital. I was diagnosed with the early stage prostate cancer after a biopsy in September. I have sought additional medical advice, and I have decided to have this surgery as the best response to my condition. This means that I will be out of commission for the next several weeks. I must cancel all of my scheduled appointments at least through November and then begin again with a limited calendar in December. I apologize to all those who have scheduled events that I must now retract. I am sure that you will understand. I ask that you continue with any planned meeting that can take place without my presence. The Church should continue to advance, even in my absence. I am deeply grateful to Archbishop Donoghue for accepting whatever ceremonies he can on my behalf. I am also thankful to Msgrs. Corbett and Zarama for handling even more meetings and responsibilities in my absence. I know that you will support them as they guide the work of the Archdiocese for the next several weeks. I will be in close communication with both of them during this time.
I have urged our priests to take care of their health on several different occasions over the years. I renew that admonition now with the witness of my personal experience. We men (I hope that doesn’t sound absolutely chauvinistic) often neglect regular attention to our health—and priests may be near the top of the list in that category. I urge all of my brothers to attend to your health. I urge any man who may be in a high risk category to be screened for prostate cancer or any other illness that can be detected by simple testing (ladies, you know that you also have your own list of medical concerns that need similar proactive attention).
I am very much at peace with this situation since I believe that I have received expert medical advice and that I will have the best of medical care. I have enjoyed wonderful health throughout my life, and I anticipate returning to a fully active schedule after my recuperation.
Some of you might now wonder why I am being so candid about my health. Well, you are my family, and you have a right to know: Besides if I were to be absent for an entire month, the rumors would be far worse than telling you the simple truth up front. I have never been restricted in my activity for such a long time, and I look forward to getting some reading done that I have not had the opportunity to do. I anticipate that I will be bored quickly, and so I’ll need to practice patience with myself—not an easy task to be certain.
I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation while I was in Rome. The last thing the Franciscan confessor in St. Peter’s Basilica told me was that I was in good hands—since I am sure he was not an Allstate agent, I presume that he meant in the Father’s hands. I will try to continue my column during my recovery, but I will have only limited things about which to write—but I will try—we’ll see.
I ask your prayers, and I assure you of mine.