When America’s loneliest bishop stretched his arms and stepped from his bedside in the predawn darkness of Deep East Texas yesterday, smallmouth bass were snoozing at the bottom of Bellwood Lake, and prairie lands of cattle kept still before sunrays began to gore their hides.
The Dollar Tree cashiers on Broadway Avenue and servers at Happy’s Fish House and Stanley’s Famous Barbecue were asleep when Bishop Strickland looked into his cell phone.
There, he saw “his own” words. He was leaving the “Bergoglian sect” and Catholic Church, and taking all of Tyler with him. A group claiming to be “The Bishops of Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate” typed it up, attributed it to the bishop, and pushed Tweet.
Coffee hadn’t even begun its drip yet at the chancery.
In the scalding summertime heat of Texas, when the pines stop growing and slumped ranch hands ease in their work, the Tyler bishop has stopped seeking the cool of the shade. Believe it or not, he’s actually come to embrace the desert lot of his life—even if it leads to his ruination. As coffee brewed, he sent out a tweet, explaining that the “fabricated and scurrilous message” wasn’t from him.
Thereafter, he knelt and began to pray to Mary, to whom he has surrendered his priesthood. It has been through his relationship with the Mother of God, which has intensified over the better part of the last eight years, that she points him to Golgotha, and directs him: Joe, there is your home.
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