The Lord Guards Our Coming and Going


Father David BonnarThere is a beautiful line in the psalter found in the breviary that we pray as clergy that states, “The Lord guards our coming and going” (Ps 121:8). Our priestly life and ministry are filled with many comings and goings. Some of these are mundane and rather routine. For example, every day we come to the altar only to go back out into the world. We come to Jesus in prayer but go forth to live the Gospel of Joy. We come to a place of rest but eventually go forth to work.

Amid these familiar comings and goings, some more significant than others, as in the case of a transfer. We come to one assignment but subsequently are called to go to another. More specifically, we come to a parish, but in time we go to another.

These comings and goings are part of the transitions of life. Every one of these moments provides opportunities for growth and transition. And each of these transitions reminds us so poignantly that we are pilgrims always on the move according to God’s plan. These particular comings and goings always let me know something I learned very early in the seminary — namely, “The needs of the Church are always greater than our own.”

Today’s blog entry marks my first one as a resident of northeastern Ohio. In birth, I came to the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The six-county region of the Pittsburgh diocese has been my home. I was formed and called to orders in that local Church. For 32 years, it has been the Lord’s vineyard for me. What a privilege it has been to be a servant in this area.

With the Holy Father’s appointment of me as a bishop, I now leave the comfortable surroundings of Pittsburgh and go to Youngstown to be their sixth bishop. I am humbled to become a successor of the apostles and to teach, lead and sanctify the clergy, religious and faithful in the six-county Diocese of Youngstown.

The journey from Pittsburgh to Youngstown is roughly 65 miles, a one hour and fifteen-minute trek. Although it is a short distance, I realize that it is a big step, unlike any other move I’ve made. There will be more responsibility and complexity. And yet, in a certain sense, I have been telling myself that I am moving to a bigger parish with a larger staff.

While my address will change, along with my license plate and a few other things, there is one thing that will remain the same — I will continue to be a pastor shepherding the flock, albeit with a different title.

Please pray for me in this time of transition, that the Lord will open my ears to listen attentively, especially in these early days. Please pray that the Lord will grant me wisdom and grace to lead and love the flock with a shepherd’s heart. Together, let us pray, in whatever walk of life we find ourselves that “the Lord will guard our coming and going.”

BISHOP-ELECT DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, has been appointed bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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