Roosevelt — Bishop Paul Walsh may have retired as auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, but he’s not going anywhere.
Bishop Walsh, who was ordained auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 2003, submitted his letter of resignation as required to Pope Benedict XVI upon his 75th birthday Aug. 17. The pope accepted, “which is good,” said Bishop Walsh, “but it’s not really like a final retirement, a final separation or anything like that. For instance, I have some confirmations scheduled already for this semester. Not as many as before, but I’ll still keep doing them from time to time. My residence is going to be over at Our Holy Redeemer Parish in Freeport, and I’ll be able to help out there in terms of celebrating Eucharist and other things that come up. So I think I’m going to be busy enough.”
He noted that retirement will allow him to return to some of the things he missed about being a parish priest. “One of the things I’ve missed to a certain extent is the day-to-day parish life. It’s a familiar kind of thing. It’s kind of like being a father image. Not authoritarian so much but familial, based on our sharing the life of Christ. Whatever way I can plug back into that would be fine with me, and I think it would be good at this point for the diocese, too. The number of priests is not increasing that much, so it’s up to us to pitch in where we can.”
Being a part of parish life “is healthy, I think,” he continued. “You don’t want to give into a need to be busy just to be busy, but we do have a need to be occupied with something that’s out of ourselves, of giving of ourselves in a positive way. I always liked being in a parish. I was pastor at St. Patrick’s in Smithtown for a long time. I was pastor at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary here for one term. There’s a relationship that builds up there. It’s not familial in the sense of being married, but there are a lot of things about life that you share with people. It keeps us human, I think.”
Bishop Walsh will remain in residence at Our Holy Redeemer, where he has been since 2010. The pastor, Father Douglas Arcoleo, “invited me to come there and make it my residence, which was very nice of him and I accepted it with happiness, that I could be in a place where it is active and busy and I’m needed. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Celebrating confirmation “is a thing I’ll miss to some extent,” said Bishop Walsh. “It’s a good experience generally. People are always grateful. It’s just a time to pray for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives more fully, and try to encourage people to trust in God and maintain their relationship with God.”
As for retirement plans, “I’d like to see how it goes,” he said. “What I get called upon to do will probably decide how I spend my time, but I would probably like a little more time to study and prepare homilies.”
“I’m grateful for the vocation,” Bishop Walsh added. “I’m lucky to have the vocation, I’m lucky to be where I am. I just want to be able to respect the whole thing enough to try my best and do my best serving the people. That’s where it’s at. That’s part of the thing with taking up residence in a parish. I can hear confessions on a Saturday afternoon, I can help out with the Masses and other things, and it’s just a continuation of what I did through my profession. It’s a blessing for me and hopefully for the people.”