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Evansville, Indiana
January 3, 1992     The Message
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January 3, 1992

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mu 3, 1992. The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana '9 Bishop's Forum By BISHOP GERALD A. GE'ITELFINGER A visit to a sick friend: Archbishop 0:'Meara I TOL Today is December 27, 1991, the feast of St. , un the Evangelist. It is an extraordinarily mild d beautiful day in winter. The engine to the car s still Warm as I have just compleied the second f of a round trip to Indiana University Medical ,enter in Indianapolis. The six hours in the car, 1 ee each way, give me plenty of time to ponder kinds of thin,s This time mv mind had a 8ha r  . P focus on my purpose for the trip. I was 01ag to see Archbishop "Edward T. O'Meara who a unt survive the ravages of idiopathic pul- 0rmry fibrosis without a lung transplant.  Yesterday when I arrived at the hospital, the se told him that I was there. I overheard him ,,k her with muffled voice to step outside for lust two minutes." He no longer could be with- uut the ox en mask over his nose and mouth he ca Yg" " " me out and invited me in to see him. Wi., As always, this most gracious man greeted me t  t Warm affection. We clasped hands. He said u. me: "You are indeed a very good friend " I told qllll t - -  " .,. uat l had come to town to visit one whom I (I as aver a y close and personal friend by the se of Archbishop Edward T. O'Meara. He ..... lied with his eyes and silently acknowledged Wtha Strong squeeze of my hand. ,  ret this man twelve years ago in New York. Jft two weeks before our meeting he had in- urlTl i." ed Monsignor Francis R. Tuohy, the Admin- ator of the Archdiocese that he was to be Indi- s newest "Hoosier;" he was the new Archbishop of Indianapolis. Happily for me I was chosen as one of the delegation of three to go meet our new archbishop. The whale day was special as we helped to plan for his instal- lation as Archbishop of Indianapolis on Jan- uary 10, 1980. Particularly memorable for me was his smile and strong embrace at the sign of peace during Mass in his chapel that day. It was the beginning of a most cherished friend- ship. During the next nine years I came to know and love Archbishop O'Meara. On long road trips we talked about all sorts of things. After he appointed me Vicar General in 1988, he and I had talked many times about what I was to do when I left the Chancery. I confided that I would love to begin a new parish and that for all my priesthood I had been a "hyphenated" priest, that is having more than one or two jobs at the same time. I looked forward to hav- ing a single job. To that end I began a search for my replacement as the chief financial offi- cer. It took forever, it seemed, but I succeeded and plans moved forward for me to begin a new parish. He then hedged a bit and sug- gested that I spend the following year at the Cathedral while a feasibility study for a new parish was being done  a job that he curi- ously assigned to my successor as chancellor. Just three years ago upon his return from making his five-year report to the Holy Father I met him at the airport in Indianapolis. We all knew that Bishop Shea of Evansville had turned 75 on December 4, 1988 and would be retiring. Rumors of all kinds had been rampant for months as to whom the successor might be. On that rainy, foggy December night I asked him if he had heard any rumors about Evansville. He sidestepped the question and went on to a completely different topic. Since my name was in the rumor mill, about which we had never spoken, I sensed that he knew more than he was willing to share. In- deed he did. Being a good friend, lest I be disap- pointed should it not come about, he did not tell me that he had recommended me to be Bishop of Evansville. A new and different bond was formed be- tween us when he ordained me bishop in April 1989. Now there was not only a fraternal bond but one unique between the bishop and the one he or- dains. It is a filial relationship. Because of it he will always be Archbishop O'Meara to me. Whatever God has in store for my dear friend, I trust that it will be good. Before I left Indianapo- lis this morning I went to see him again for a cou- ple of minutes. I asked Archbishop O'Meara for his blessing. With extreme effort, saying the words at the price of oxygen needed for life he raised his arm and blessed me. He then word- lessly pointed his finger toward me and then to himself. I asked God's blessing upon him. It was hard to leave my friend today! arians fl Dolores (Hoefling} Niemeier their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass January 11 at St. Joseph Church, Vander- A family dinner will follow. The couple was 7, 1942, at St. Joseph Church by Msgr. 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