The October edition of the Western New York Catholic was published online yesterday and can be viewed via this link. The first thing I looked for was Bishop Malone’s calendar of meetings and public events, which is a standard feature of our diocesan newspaper. I scrolled directly to the first few pages, which are always devoted to the “Ministry of the Bishop” and contain the Bishop’s calendar and photos of his ministry around the diocese. But this month? The calendar and photos are not to be found.
Now I can’t say that I was totally shocked by the absence of the calendar. There are two primary reasons why I believe it was eliminated this month: 1) a desire to prevent public protests, which require advance notice of where the Bishop will be and when; 2) the fact that his calendar may be in a substantial amount of flux these days.
For example, last night was the St. Therese feast day Mass at the Carmelite Monastery. It is a longstanding tradition for the bishop of the diocese to celebrate that Mass. But Bishop Malone wasn’t there last night. Either he decided not to attend or he was asked not to be there. This is just the latest in a growing list of events the Bishop has not attended for scandal-related reason.
October means the autumn Confirmation season begins in earnest. Although the fall Confirmation schedule is never as full as its spring counterpart, it still includes many stops on the “chrism trail,” as Bishop Malone used to refer to it. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from quite a few parents who do not want Bishop Malone to confirm their confirmand(s). And they’re not happy with the idea that Bishop Grosz or Father Peter Karalus (the other designated diocesan confirmer) would be the replacement for Bishop Malone. I don’t know how this is playing out at parishes where Bishop Malone intended to confirm, but I’m sure there have been discussions about it. Perhaps the Bishop’s Confirmation schedule was still in flux when the October issue went to print. (We always had to have the Bishop’s calendar and column ready about 1 week before the paper was printed.)
The greater surprise for me in this month’s edition was the shocking absence of Bishop Malone’s face and name amidst its pages. This is the first time I know of when Bishop Malone does not appear in any photo in the publication. I remember how Msgr. Litwin used to go through the paper every month and count how many times Bishop Malone’s image appeared within its pages. Sometimes he would have us guess how many times – the average was usually around 5. Many times, the Bishop figured prominently on the cover itself! By contrast, this month’s issue contains 0 photos of him and only 7 mentions of his name – most in standard usage (his appointment of priests, for example). By contrast, the Bishop’s name appeared 28 times in the August edition of the paper with two photos of him on his “picture page.”
I have myriad memories of working on the Bishop’s public and private calendars with Fr. Ryszard and Bishop Malone. When I first started at the Chancery, I realized that calendar-related questions and decisions would be a major part of my job. There were so many calendar requests and clarifications to discuss that I asked Bishop Malone if we could meet regularly to go over the calendar. When the Bishop acquiesced, I began referring to “Calendar Club Meetings” on his daily agenda and the name stuck. I even started using this Calendar Club logo on our meeting agendas! We would joke around that it was a very exclusive Club with membership limited to the three of us. Our Chancery colleagues would laugh and say they weren’t jealous – who would want to handle all the details of the Bishop’s calendar?
But you know who loved calendar work? Bishop Malone! Whenever I’d mention that I had a calendar question for him, his eyes would light up and he’d eagerly pull his “black book” (his trusty Day-Timer) out of his jacket pocket. He genuinely enjoyed the puzzle work of the calendar and never tired of taking questions about it. On the rare occasions when he left his black book at home, he would quip that he felt “incomplete” without it. And even when our Club agendas were 4 or 5 pages long, the Bishop was not distressed. He would tell other staff about those long agendas and seemed proud that we had so much calendar work to accomplish.
We sure have come a long way since those rosy Calendar Club days. Now the Bishop’s public calendar is not available to the public… at least for this month. This calendar concealment will curtail our peaceful protesting for a few weeks, but it won’t cease our efforts to call for Bishop Malone to resign.
Bishop Malone has disappeared from the Western New York Catholic.
Now he needs to disappear from Western New York.