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​‘I have been blessed beyond measure in my ministry’

March 25, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic

Topics: In the Press, Breaking News

‘I have been blessed beyond measure in my ministry’

Remarks from Bishop-elect Gary Janak at February 15 announcement regarding his appointment as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

On Monday evening, February 1, I had just returned from the Emmaus Center, our diocesan counseling and spiritual direction center in Victoria, and I was in my parish office, preparing to write progress notes for the clients I had counseled with that day. My cell phone rang and, as many calls do, it noted the location of the caller. It was from Washington D.C. I thought it was another irritating sales call, and I almost let it ring without answering it, but I went ahead and picked it up and said hello.

There was a pause and then a distinctive voice spoke. This is Archbishop Christophe Pierre calling from the nunciature in Washington. Are you alone? I said, “I can be in a few steps, archbishop.” As I walked up the stairs, the archbishop informed me that His Holiness, Pope Francis, had appointed me an auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. My legs froze and I was almost speechless. The archbishop was so understanding and patient and he encouraged me to sit down. Eventually I accepted the appointment, while remaining in a state of disbelief.

I will always remember the kindness extended to me by Archbishop Pierre and Archbishop Gustavo, who called me approximately an hour later to welcome me to the archdiocese. I also extend my gratitude to Bishop Michael, who was my spiritual director when I was a seminarian at Assumption Seminary in the 1980’s, for his encouraging words of support. I cannot believe I will have the opportunity to serve with him in this archdiocese.\

There is no one more unworthy of this appointment than the one who stands before you this morning. I am humbled beyond words. Though I have had various responsibilities over the years at the diocesan level, I am a parish priest. I have been ministering in parishes and schools for my entire priesthood. I have been blessed beyond measure in my ministry and God’s grace has always compensated for what I am lacking. As you come to know my heart, you will find that I possess a very simple faith; having been taught by my parents and grandparents to recognize Jesus as our Savior but also our protector and friend. My faith is sustained by God’s Word and the Eucharist.

I am grateful for my family, who is an integral part of my life and ministry. My mother, who last month celebrated her 87th birthday, is my inspiration when it comes to faith and energy. My dad died of brain cancer more than 22 years ago, at the age of 65, so my mom has been a widow for a long time. There is not too much that slows her down. She has a solid faith and even this pandemic has not kept her from attending weekly and Sunday Mass.

My two sisters, Cindy and Sharon, and their husbands Larry and Jake, are my pillars of strength.My brother, Allan, and his wife Jeanie, are the rock upon whom I lean in times of doubt and pain. I have eight nieces and nephews, and in my almost 33 years of priesthood, two months ago I had to preside at one of the most difficult liturgies I have ever conducted: the funeral Mass of my oldest nephew Brandon, who died of cancer at the age of 35. We are still reeling from his death. My eight great-nieces and nephews, who call me Uncle G., are the joy of my life and they bring me abundant blessings.

I will greatly miss the Diocese of Victoria, Bishop Cahill, Bishop-emeritus David Fellhauer, my brother priests and the wonderful people of the diocese with whom I have had the pleasure of ministering and serving. For the past two weeks though, I have deeply reflected on the words Bishop Michael said to me, soon after my appointment, “What you are being asked to do will require sacrifice.” I agree and so I stand ready to surrender all to what Christ and His Church have requested of me. Having been formed for the priesthood at Assumption Seminary, the Archdiocese of San Antonio already feels like home.

In fact, my great-uncle, Father Roman Janak, was a priest of this archdiocese and died in an automobile accident, four months after I was born. I also had four great-aunts that were members of the Congregation of Divine Providence, here in San Antonio, and my uncle and godfather, Frank Fikac, served as a permanent deacon at Sts. Peter and Paul parish in New Braunfels for several years.

Like the Diocese of Victoria, the Archdiocese of San Antonio is rich in cultures and languages.My family is deeply formed by its Czech culture. Having been raised in Palacios, a small coastal town where Latinos, Vietnamese, African-Americans and Anglos live and worship together, I appreciate the vast abundance of culture in the Archdiocese.

Sé la importancia de preservar nuestro patrimonio cultural y nuestro idioma. Crecí escuchando a mis padres hablar checo. Celebrar nuestra cultura, incluido su idioma, ha sido una parte importante de mi vida.

(I know the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and language.I grew up hearing my parents speak Czech.Celebrating our culture, including its language, has been an important part of my life).

Me siento muy bendecido de estar aquí, en la Iglesia de San Antonio, donde se pueden encontrar muchas culturas e idiomas, junto con tantas parroquias, misiones históricas, escuelas católicas, hospitales y universidades. Somos bendecidos en nuestra diversidad y unidos en nuestra fe en Jesús.

(I am so blessed to be here, in the Church of San Antonio, where many cultures and languages can be found, along with so many parishes, historic missions, Catholic schools, hospitals and universities. We are blessed in our diversity and united in our faith in Jesus).

To the priests of this Archdiocese: I know some of you and the rest I look forward to meeting.I stand ready to work with you. As a parish priest, I am all too aware of the joys you experience and the challenges you confront on a daily basis. We are blessed by the call we have received.I also look forward to meeting the seminarians of the archdiocese and doing what I can to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

I join with Archbishop Gustavo, Bishop Michael and all of you, my brother priests, along with the deacons, religious men and women and lay leaders of this archdiocese, in continuing to serve and to bring the Good News of Jesus to God’s people, which is so much needed in these challenging days of COVID.

Thank you for your kind welcome. I ask for your prayers.I will need every one of them!Reza por mi.Gracias y que Dios les bendiga!