Congratulations, Bishop-elect Colgan!

Tuesday morning the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had named Father Arthur “Bud” Colgan, C.S.C., to be auxiliary bishop of Chosica, Peru. Bishop-elect Colgan is familiar to clergy and laity in the Diocese of Fall River due to his service as provincial of the Holy Cross order for the former Eastern Province of that religious congregation from 2000 to 2009. Although based in Bridgeport, Conn., he was responsible for the ministries carried out by our Holy Cross brethren in ministries here in our diocese, including parishes and Stonehill College.

Other than serving as provincial superior here on the East Coast, much of Bishop-elect Colgan’s ministry has been carried out in Peru. A native of Dorchester, he was ordained a priest in 1973 and has served in roles within his order and in the Peruvian dioceses of Chimbote and Chosica and for the Peruvian bishops’ conference for more than four decades. Since 2010 he has been the vicar general of the Chosica Diocese, so his appointment as auxiliary bishop will complement that role well.

Serving in Peru, Father Colgan normally would go by a Spanish-version of his first name, Arturo. Thus, if you would like to look up talks he has given, you should look for “Padre Arturo Colgan.” In a 2014 address to religion teachers on the occasion of the Peruvian “Day of the Teacher,” the future bishop said, “Besides being a job, teaching religion is a vocation in the Church. Through you the Church reaches out to young people to whom we would not be able to reach if it were not due to your presence in the public schools” [in Peru the Catholic faith is taught in the public schools]. 

He continued, “Your labor responds very well to the call which Pope Francis has made to all of the Church to ‘go outside of itself’ and ‘to go to the peripheries,’ placing all of the pastoral work of the Church in a ‘missionary key’: ‘going out to encounter others, coming close so as to bring the light and the joy of our faith’” (Pope Francis, general audience of March 27, 2013).

Bishop-elect Colgan is very involved in the Diocese of Chosica’s carrying out of its 2011-2021 Strategic Pastoral Plan. For those who can read Spanish, it is impressive to behold. It reflects that carrying out the mission of the Church, to bring Christ’s light and joy to the peripheries, is not something that can just be done with good intentions. It requires planning so that no one will be forgotten. When we consider Jesus’ own three-year mission and then the Apostles’ initial work of evangelization, we can see that God Himself made sure to reach out to various geographical areas and strata of society.

In his work for the Peruvian bishops’ conference, Father Colgan has written and spoken a lot on issues having to do with peace, violence and social justice. He has lived through two major insurgencies in Peru — the Maoist Shining Path rebels and the MRTA (which is not a transit authority, but the Revolutionary Movement of Tupac Amaru). He also has seen authoritarian regimes of the Peruvian government, at times rampant corruption and great inequalities between rich and poor. 

In 2013 the future bishop wrote about what a bishop is supposed to be, quoting a lot from Pastores Gregis, a 2003 apostolic exhortation written by St. John Paul II. Father Colgan was writing to celebrate Bishop Norberto Strotmann M.S.C.’s 20th anniversary of his being ordained a bishop. They are now words Bishop-elect Colgan will himself try to live, with God’s help (and our prayers).

He quoted the Polish saint in saying that, “All pastoral action must have a missionary Spirit, to arouse and conserve in the souls of the faithful an ardor for the spreading of the Gospel.” He then said that Bishop Strotmann would not let his people be “tranquil and satisfied” with what they had already done “and forget about the 90 percent of the population to whom we had not gotten.” This is good for us to think about (and act on) here in the U.S., too.

Pastores Gregis also demands that the bishop be a “prophet of justice.” Father Colgan noted how in his diocese social ministry is seen as an “integral part of the mission of the Church.” Now he will also have to be this type of prophet (although his books in Spanish seem to show that he already strives to be this).

Father Colgan also said that his diocesan bishop “doesn’t stop insisting that without a committed and well-formed laity, efforts to reach our distant [non-practicing] brothers and sisters will be impossible.”

As we celebrate a son of Massachusetts being given a new cross to bear (not just one to wear over his vestments, but a share in the cross of Christ), we are mindful of how we too, in the Fall River Diocese and wherever we may be, are called to collaborate with our bishop, to bring the Gospel of Christ to everywhere and everyone. As we observe World Mission Sunday this weekend, we are reminded that besides doing this work in our own diocese (which Christ insists we must do), we also need to work together with our fellow Catholics throughout the world to spread the Gospel. 

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts