Many of the stories presented in our special farewell issue about Archbishop John Vlazny allude to his trademark laugh and smile.
Both characteristics symbolized his ministry as spiritual leader of Western Oregon Catholics.
He practiced light through darkness, patience and love through adversity, and faith over doubt.
The archbishop faced many daunting challenges during his years here. His faith-filled way of meeting those challenges is his legacy.
He looked on saddened as the clergy sex abuse nearly sundered the church. He worked vigorously to comfort victims, set up protection standards for children, and keep the church’s mission going even through a bankruptcy.
When confronted with mind-numbing problems, he was fond of saying, “God will provide.”
While some pessimists seemed paralyzed by the shortage of clergy, Archbishop Vlazny continued his call for vocations, ending up with the largest ordination class ever in 2012.
He marched to the steps of the Oregon Capitol in defense of government support for the weakest among us. He defended life continually in a local culture open to physician-assisted suicide and abortion on demand. He reached out to the laity of the archdiocese, creating the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, empowering Catholics in the pews to make a difference.
He did all of these things with that welcoming smile. A smile born out of faith and a love for Christ’s message to love one another, as we have loved him.
We all owe a debt of thanks to Archbishop Vlazny for inspiring all of us to “Go and Make Disciples.” He will be missed.
Our wish for him in retirement is that he receives a steady resupply of homemade baked beans. The man absolutely loves baked beans. Secret family recipe available upon request.