SCRANTON – As Bishop-elect Jeffrey J. Walsh prepares to leave the Diocese of Scranton to minister to the faithful in the Diocese of Gaylord, his brother priests, many who have served alongside him for 27 years are reflecting on his many gifts and talents.
“Father Walsh is truly a servant leader. He understands that to serve is to lead and to lead is to serve and he will do it well,” Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, said.
“He’s a very gifted priest and there’s a quality of holiness that is really significant in his life and that permeates when he has conversations with people,” Father Thomas M. Muldowney, pastor, Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, said.
Monsignor William J. Feldcamp knew Jeffrey Walsh and his family long before he decided to become a priest. When Father Walsh was ordained in 1994, his first assignment was to serve along Monsignor Feldcamp as assistant pastor at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Carbondale.
Even as a young priest, Msgr. Feldcamp recognized the abilities of his young assistant.
“I would say the biggest thing that stood out was the fact that he was very energized by serving people. He loved to go visit the hospitals. He loved to go and do communion calls, to visit the sick. Anytime there was any kind of social need with the poor or needy, he was right on deck to help,” Msgr. Feldcamp recalled.
Feldcamp believes Bishop-elect Walsh can best be described as a “missionary disciple.”
“He always will put himself out to help other people, to help the church in whatever which way he can. He’ll reach out to go on trips with youth. He’ll help with formation of priests,” he said.
After two years in Carbondale, in 1996, Bishop-elect Walsh became assistant pastor at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, where Monsignor Quinn served as rector.
“He was filled with energy and enthusiasm in a wonderful way. He gave such added life to everything at the Cathedral but what I loved most of all was that he was always genuinely prayerful, sincerely humble and really selfless in every way,” Msgr. Quinn explained.
Whether working with youth, running mission trips or assisting with the long-running fundraiser “Cathedral Capers,” Msgr. Quinn said Bishop-elect Walsh always put everything in a positive light.
“I’m still smiling about his recent letter in his own parish bulletin at Saint Rose where he said there are three things he was looking forward to as he heads out to Michigan,” Msgr. Quinn said. “One is meeting a moose, two is seeing the night lights at the Great Lakes and the third is driving a snowmobile. Who else could put it in that context? He’s smiling throughout it all and bravely, selflessly and courageously going forward as a leader needed in today’s church.”
Bishop-elect Walsh has also held a number of administrative positions, including Vicar for Clergy, where he often worked side-by-side with Father Muldowney, who previously served as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
Father Muldowney said his long-time friend is authentic in the way he presents himself, celebrates Mass and has conversations.
“The Diocese of Gaylord is getting a fantastic bishop just because of his priestly zeal, holiness and authentic way of life,” Father Muldowney related. “I know the giftedness that he has and that’s a blessing he’s going to give to the faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord.”
When all three priests were asked to give Bishop-elect words of advice, each said almost the same exact thing.
“Be who you are. That’s the advice that I would give him,” Father Muldowney said. “Who he is, is why the Church called him to be a bishop.”
“Don’t change. Be you. Be the real person that everyone in this diocese has loved with every assignment he’s had. Be the humble, honest human, humorous soul that we all know him to be and he will be equally enlivened and at the service of the Church,” Msgr. Quinn said.
“My words of advice would be to be yourself,” Msgr. Feldcamp added. “Because you have all the qualities needed to be a successful bishop. You’re a blessing for the Church and I’m sure everybody in northeastern Pennsylvania is very proud of you. Our prayers go with you and don’t be a stranger. When you come back, let us see you and let us know how you’re doing!”