Bishop J. Mark Spalding of Nashville marked the 30th anniversary of his priestly ordination during a Mass on Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville.
“You and I all gather because we are so darn proud of knowing and knowing the ministry and service of our great bishop, Bishop Mark Spalding,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who was the homilist for the Mass. “We know that God has blessed him with so many wonderful gifts.”
Friends and family from the Archdiocese of Louisville, where Bishop Spalding grew up and served as a priest before his installation as the Bishop of Nashville in 2018, were among those attending the Mass.
“Many of us remember his ordination as bishop three and half years ago and what a blessing it has been for our Holy Father to assign him as a bishop here in Nashville and for you to receive him so warmly,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
“Bishop Spalding has labored through the grace of Jesus Christ, through the power of Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit that impels him to be true to the motto that he chose as his own, that God might lift up the lowly, that we might be aware how much each one of us in our own way is lowly and desperately needs God’s presence,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
Archbishop Kurtz recalled Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in 2016 and his message to the American bishops. The pope stressed three things to the bishops’ about their ministry, Archbishop Kurtz said.
“He said joyfully proclaim Christ who died and rose for our sake,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “A good bishop is someone who not only in his words but in his actions emanates a joy, a joy because Jesus Christ died and rose for you and me.”
The pope’s second point was “may the style of your mission as a bishop leave the hearers of your word to know the message that you preach, you preach also for yourself, to know that we cannot be sustained in our following of Jesus Christ or as bishops lead others to do the same unless we ourselves know we need to be disciples of Jesus Christ who rely on him,” the archbishop said.
The third point was to be “vigilant that your flock may encounter in the heart of their pastor a taste for eternity.”
“Bishop Mark, thank you for saying yes to be a priest and a bishop of Jesus Christ,” the archbishop added.
Bishop Spalding thanked Archbishop Kurtz for his service to the Church in Louisville as well as in the Diocese of Knoxville, where he previously served as bishop.
“These are occasions when our Church is reminded we need to pray for priests,” Bishop Spalding said of the anniversary mass. “God send us men who will say yes to this wonderful call. And God will answer that prayer.”
“God has brought us together this day as he always does in spirit,” Bishop Spalding said. “And in that spirit we’re given the presence of Christ and we bring that to a world that needs Christ’s presence more and more.”
In his homily, Archbishop Kurtz also addressed the day’s gospel reading taken from the Bread of Life Discourse in the Gospel of John.
“We need a Eucharistic revival,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “We need to be stirred up and appreciate the gift of the Holy Eucharist, that the bread and wine presented at the offertory today is truly the body and blood of Jesus given for our salvation.”
That gift, he said, “is given so that we might not simply remember as something in the past but we might be touched in the present by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
We receive the Eucharist to be transformed, Archbishop Kurtz said. “We come in one way and we leave church renewed and changed, transformed. The bishop is the one who leads you to do that and does it in his own life.”