Skip to comments.New El Paso bishop gave Dallas-area parishioner one of his kidneys
Posted on 05/07/2013 3:27:17 AM PDT by NYer
Bishop Mark J. Seitz, who on Monday was named the Catholic Diocese of El Paso's new bishop, is a giving person in more ways than one. Read the 2009 article below about how he donated a kidney to a parishioner.
A Texas woman in need of a kidney has received one from her parish priest. She has called the donation a holy kidney, while he says the gift of his kidney is an attempt to follow Christs life-giving example.
Carrie Gehling, who has lost both legs to diabetes and has suffered four heart attacks, needed a kidney transplant after years of dialysis. Her medical history made her a high-risk candidate and she needed to find a live donor herself, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The 45-year-old Gehling turned to her pastor at St. Rita Catholic Church, Msgr. Mark Seitz.
Msgr. Seitz, thinking about where his parishioner could find a donor, said he thought to himself 'Why not me?'
Testing proved he was an acceptable match. Gehling, hearing he would be her donor, said she would call the gift her holy kidney.
A spokesman for the Dallas parish said the Tuesday morning transplant went well and both patients were recovering.
Msgr. Seitz, who is 55, told the Dallas Morning News he considers the organ donation a manifestation of his priestly duties.
We follow the model of one who literally gave his life for us. If he can lay down his life, I can give away a kidney."
An essay written by Msgr. Seitz said that he has known Gehling for more than six years.
I have greatly admired her courage in dealing with her diabetes and all the many effects of this terrible disease. Through the many daily trials and sufferings and limitations, the hours of dialysis; through all the difficulties she has continued to fight. Not only this, but she has continued to love God, to trust in His goodness and to reach out to others in love. Who could fail to be inspired by this witness of Faith?
The priest recounted how he, Gehling and her mother had traveled to a shrine named San Juan de los Lagos on the Texas/Mexico border.
Many answers to prayers have been associated with this holy place, Msgr. Seitz explained. We made a day trip in the airplane owned by one of our parishioners and we celebrated Mass there. Little did I know that less than a year following that pilgrimage that I would end up being part of the answer to her prayer.
But it wasn't always smooth sailing for Gehling, who told the Dallas Morning News that she lost her faith for a time after her father died of a heart attack when she was 20.
"Then one day, I woke up and thought, 'What in the world is wrong with you?'" she said. "If my father had lived after that heart attack, he would have been a vegetable. What the Lord did was for the best.
"There's only one way to put it: Thy will be done."
Before the operation, she said people who did not think she would make it dont know her.
Theres more in life that I want to accomplish, she said.
Parishioners at St. Ritas held a special rosary service the night before the transplant.
On Thursday afternoon Msgr. Seitz posted an entry at the patient journal site CaringBridge.org. He said he is disconnected from all his tubes and is feeling a bit more human each day.
Prayers had buoyed him up and had given him peace during the operation.
It gives me great joy to know that Carrie is doing great. She says that she is feeling better that she has in 15 years.
I told her I expected that. She didn't receive any second rate kidney!
Gehling made an entry eight minutes later, saying There are no words to say thank you. How do you say thank you to a man that has given one a new life?
Kidney surgery is extremely delicate and painful. The kidneys are in the back and to reach them, there are very limited surgical options, depending on a person’s vascular system.
Resolving the US' longest-standing vacancy after 17 long months, at Roman Noon this Monday Pope Francis named Bishop Mark Seitz, 59, an auxiliary of Dallas since 2010, as bishop of El Paso in terms of diocesan population, the new pontiff's most significant Stateside choice to date.
At the helm of the 700,000-member fold along West Texas' border with Mexico, Seitz, who moved from his native Wisconsin to study as a seminarian in Texas, succeeds Bishop Armando Ochoa, who was returned to his native California as bishop of Fresno now home to a million Catholics in December 2011. In an unusual tackling of long-distance double-duty, Ochoa, who turned 70 last month, has been serving as apostolic administrator of his former charge, and is slated to present his successor at a 10am Mountain press conference in the Pastoral Center hall dedicated to the Martyrs of America. (The presser will be livestreamed.)
Whether for reasons of the migration spike of recent years or more accurate counting, the Catholic population of the nine-county diocese has boomed over recent years, growing some 60 percent since 1990. Like the other two Lone Star churches with which it shares the bulk of the borderland the US' newest Latin-church see at Laredo, and the emerging star of Brownsville, now with over a million members the El Paso diocese is overwhelmingly in-house, with the faithful comprising over 80 percent of its area's total population. Among the 14 dioceses in Texas, El Paso which marks its centenary next year now sits tied for fourth-largest, behind Galveston-Houston, Dallas and the aforementioned Valley church.
Accordingly, as several other seats which came open after the border post were filled more quickly Portland, Fargo, Grand Rapids and Oakland among them what made for the El Paso delay became a frequent question both in Texas and some wider church circles.
In a nutshell, the long wait can seemingly be chalked up to two principal elements: First, the added time and effort needed to locate a nominee with the skill-set and experience to optimally handle the particular challenges of El Paso, above all the reality of the border and the diocese's intense engagement with the human and pastoral issues that spring from it. Second, the long process highlights a personnel reality that only ever becomes more pressing: namely, that as the 70 million member Stateside church evolves into an increasingly Hispanic reality a development that, in the context of Texas, made for the engine which recently transformed Catholics into the Lone Star State's largest religious group the supply of bishops or episcopabili to serve the booming population is at an immense premium. As a result, the assignment of Latino prelates tends to be a matter of even greater deliberation than usual, sometimes stoking disputes among key players given the demand. Given that scene, an available, suitable Hispanic match clearly couldn't be found in this instance, an especially stark outcome given the nature of the diocese, its home-county now estimated to be 82 percent Latino. (The early front-runner for today's nod, Bishop Oscar Cantú, 46, was instead named to New Mexico's neighboring Las Cruces church in January.)
On that crucial front, Seitz is both linguistically and culturally fluent in Hispanic church and has routinely served the community over his years in Dallas, whose 1.2 million Catholics a figure grown sixfold since 1990 are roughly an even split between Latinos and Anglos. A pastor for almost his entire 33-year priesthood who remained at a parish's helm until this morning's appointment, the bishop made news even before his 2010 elevation as an auxiliary for donating one of his kidneys to a parishioner in need of a transplant.
That said, Francis' choice is El Paso's first Anglo prelate since 1978, when Patrick Flores became the first Hispanic bishop to lead a diocese in Texas. Barely a year later, the Houston-born Flores returned to San Antonio, where he had served as an auxiliary, this time as archbishop, after a letter-writing campaign called for the appointment. Today, Latino bishops head four of the state's local churches.
Amid the already heady mix Seitz inherits, a third element on the El Paso scene likely raised some eyebrows during the process: a public, long-running feud between Ochoa and one of his priests which contained all the hallmarks of American Catholicism's never-ending Great Family Food Fight, a rare spectacle that likely helps explain the bishop's having remained in charge from Fresno during the long interregnum.
After Fr Michael Rodriguez made statements in support of a 2011 recall effort of El Paso's mayor and other officials reportedly over their support for granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees Ochoa removed the cleric from his post as administrator of a city parish, naming Rodriguez parochial vicar of a church some 250 miles away, the bishop publicly citing the priest's potential impact on the diocese's tax-exempt status as his rationale.
After further assessment, Ochoa accused Rodriguez of mismanaging funds at his prior parish, to which the priest and his supporters sought to portray the bishop's actions as attempts to punish the priest over his advocacy for the 1962 Missal and a four-part series on homosexuality written by Rodriguez, which were published as paid advertisements in El Paso's lead daily newspaper. The row culminated early in 2012 when Ochoa then already named to Fresno filed a civil lawsuit against Rodriguez citing an unaccounted-for $27,000 of the initial figure at issue, which was said to have exceeded $200,000. (According to a local report at the time, some parishioners said that $46,000 was donated for the specific purpose of renovating the church to more fully accommodate the celebration of Mass according to the "Extraordinary Form," the pre-Conciliar rite for which the now-retired Benedict XVI granted an enhanced permission with 2007's Summorum Pontificum.)
While the bishop said that Rodriguez's "handling of donated funds compromised the financial integrity" of the El Paso parish, the priest shot back that he had "never misappropriated or misused parish funds.
"I will continue to do my best to be a good and holy priest, no matter the cost," Rodriguez replied in a press release. "I will continue to proclaim and teach the truths of the Roman Catholic church, especially in the area of sexual morality, no matter the cost. I will continue to adhere to the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic church, no matter the cost."
Almost a year and a half later, no resolution to the suit has ostensibly emerged.
According to the norms of the canons, Seitz must be installed in his new charge within two months of this morning's appointment. Until his successor takes office, however, Ochoa remains apostolic administrator, with the full powers of the diocesan bishop.
With the move, eight Stateside Latin-church sees remain vacant, with another seven led by (arch)bishops serving past the retirement age of 75. Of the combined docket, two more are in Texas the 700,000-member Fort Worth church remains unfilled following Bishop Kevin Vann's transfer to Orange last September, and just east of El Paso, Bishop Michael Pfeifer OMI of San Angelo turns 76 later this month. (Together with his confrere, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, the two Oblates are currently the nation's oldest diocesan bishops.)
As Papa Bergoglio continues to get up to speed on the process he's inherited, as these shores go, he'll be aided by an unusual lull beyond the seven prelates currently over 75, the next US ordinary in need of replacing won't join the ranks until Halloween, when Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany reaches the milestone. A native son, Hubbard was named to lead New York's capital church in 1977 at all of 38.
On a related note, later today brings the meeting of the Harrisburg consultors to elect a diocesan administrator following last Thursday's sudden death of Bishop Joseph McFadden, who will be buried on Wednesday at the close of four days of farewell rites.
The Catholic Church is retiring Priests at 74.
The Church is a lot smarter than the United States Government. We have Senators and Representatives that suck off the Government until the day they die. We need a mandatory retirement for Congress.
I know quite a few Priests who remain active and "on the job" well past that age.
That is definitely the situation in Hubbard's diocese where vocations are minimal. We had an 89 y/o say mass once while our priest was away. The poor man processed up the aisle and nearly fell over when he genuflected.
LMAO we had that Sunday at my Church. The old guy had to be helped from one place to another to say the mass.
I remember once when the Monsignor had to be awakened after the Deacon gave the sermon.
Older priests never stop saying mass they are just retired from active parish work.
Is there a large celebration planned in the Diocese for 31 October 2013?
However, another Bishop of Dallas, Texas, deserves some accolades. This is Bishop Thomas Tschoepe.
Bishop Thomas Tschoepe established the 3rd Saturday Bishop's rosary -- at an abortion clinic. This continued with the next bishop as well -- Bishop Charles V. Grahmann.
There was, at one time, 30+ abortion clinics in the Fort Worth/Dallas area. Many credit the Diocese of Dallas' Bishop's Rosary with helping to close about 15 abortion clinics. Though the Bishop might not always be there, his proxy was a Dominican priest from the University of Dallas -- Father Robinson, OP.
Eventually this had to stop (about ten plus years after it was started). This was because of serious death threats against Bishop Grahmann.
One day, while I was working at Priests for Life, I asked Father Frank Pavone about Bishop Grahmann no longer calling it the Bishop's rosary (I believe the rosary continued, but it was not a Diocese of Dallas sponsored event). Father Frank Pavone basically understood why Bishop Grahmann stopped the practice -- the death threats against him was quite serious. I imagine this not only endangered the Bishop's life but other lives as well... Father Frank has had death threats against him, so I think he could speak frome experience.
I assure you, it took great courage for both Bishop Thomas Tschoepe and Bishop Charles Grahmann to conduct and promote these 3rd Saturday Rosaries -- which were held at abortion clinics.
The donating the kidney is just another fine example of some of the work of the Bishops of the Diocese of Dallas.
I remember thinking in my mind that this priest should not be saying Mass.
It was the next day, and priest was extremely sharp -- like he was a different person saying Mass.
I believe he died the very next day after that.
I felt I had been struck by lightning -- with my judgement of this priest.
When I stand before God in my judgement, I will have to answer for such thoughts... God only knows the consequences of our thoughts...
I have noticed in many dying people that they have a day of lucidity, and clear thinking and feel great just before death.
I do not have a problem with an older priest stumbling through a mass, it is their life they are performing and the authority of the mass is not altered.
Probably one will be celebrated by the underground church. In his 33 years as bishop, he has decimated the diocese, selling off churches to Buddhists, non-denominationals and other congregations. In the City of Watervliet, where there were 6 churches, he closed 5. The most iconic one, modeled after a church in Rome, was sold to a local developer. Over the past two weeks, we have watched it being demolished.
The last time I saw images like this was when I toured England in 1970 and visited the skeletal remains of Coventry Cathedral. At least they had enough respect to maintain the skeleton. This is more like the fate of churches in the Soviet Union.
The good news is that only 3 blocks from this horror scene, we have just completed the restoration of a former Methodist/Episcopal Church (Hubbard refused to sell us one of his closed churches). On May 18, Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansour and priests (both Latin and Maronite Rite) will assemble for a Pontifical Dedication of the church. May St. Ann's be a beacon of light to the catholics in this community.