On the occasion of the third anniversary of his elevation to the episcopate, which occurred on November 28, 2012, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has offered this reflection.
As I celebrate my third anniversary as Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, I continue to be in awe of the call I have been given. It goes without saying that I will never be worthy to be your apostle but I do take this call to heart in a powerful way. I am deeply grateful for the wonderful support of the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the diocese. I believe we have taken some significant steps in regard to the mission of Our Lord among us, but of course there is always much more to be done.
As I speak of taking this daunting call to heart, my reflection moves to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart. My earliest memories include images of the Sacred Heart and you may remember that I dedicated my episcopacy to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart if Mary. I deeply believe that this dedication was inspired by the Holy Spirit and any good I have done in these three years has been inspired and guided by these Holy Hearts.
There are numerous writings regarding these Hearts, from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to several popes including Pope Leo XIII who consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart. These writings and mystical reflections are beautiful and valuable for deepening our faith. I tend to go back to the image of Mary at the foot of the cross of her divine Son. This scene depicts the Divine Heart of Christ and the sinless human heart of Mary engaged in the saving mystery of salvation that continues to reverberate through the world. It is the scene of love, the greatest power in the world, offering hope to humanity for all time.
On a personal note, I want to share with you some simple prayers that have become part of the rhythm of my life: “O Sacred Heart of Jesus I place my trust in thee.” “O Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on me a sinner.” “Immaculate Heart of Mary I ask you pray for me” I offer these simple prayers in the car, in the office, on a plane and on a run, basically anywhere I am. I share them with you with the hope they might become a blessing for you as they have been for me.
Let us pray that these Holy Hearts will guide me as your bishop and guide the mission of the diocese for many years to come.
– Bishop Strickland