By Charlie Johnston
It was with deep sorrow I learned of the passing last night of Madison Bishop Robert Morlino. Bishop Morlino had written the clearest clarion call for reform in the Church after the scandals started breaking of any Bishop in the country. He was truly a sign of hope – and I had hoped he would play a prominent role in the renewal of Our Lord’s Church. I reckon he will – but from the other side of the veil. Reports said that he had had a “cardiac event” mid-week. After some early apparent improvement, he died last night.
Our own Beckita collaborated with Morlino on many things when he was the Bishop of Helena – and he affectionately called her the “Queen of Hearts.” Fr. Richard Heilman, the publisher of Roman Catholic Man and a Priest in Morlino’s Diocese, wrote last night:
“Requiescat in pace, Bishop Morlino
There was a call for all night Adoration at our Diocesan Center for Bishop Morlino. I went to expose the Blessed Sacrament. Two minutes before we entered the sanctuary, a call came that things were not going well with Bishop.
After an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, I wrestled whether to go down to the hospital to pray for him there, even though he was not taking visitors. Ninety minutes later, I couldn’t fight it off any longer, so I rushed down to the hospital. Just as I arrived, Bishop passed. I was there. Isn’t it always the way? When you are close to someone, you know … you just know.
Everyone knows my affection for Bishop. But, I also know that all of the serious Catholics in our diocese adored him. Yes, I do believe we witnessed a saint in our midst; a St. Athanasius against the rampant modernism in our times.
My love and my prayers go out to everyone grieving this great loss. I love you, Bishop. You were more than my Shepherd, you were a dad to me and countless others.
Requiescat in pace, Bishop Morlino”
I have enjoyed a week with family. We all gathered at my nephew’s home in Helena, Alabama. Ah, how glorious it is to enjoy a holiday with a houseful of lively children and family games! We have a long tradition of playing the southern card game Rook (with our own variation of the rules) until all hours of the night. My son, nephew and I also played a little competitive video game golf. I stunk at the golf (baseball is my game in the video world – the only way I will ever hit home runs again in this life), but remain a solid Rook player. My daughter-in-law received her baptism by fire into the world of Rook. I warned her that, after she has really learned the game, it is best that spouses do not choose each other as game partners (in Johnston Rules Rook, there can be a little trash talk between partners). I was cheered yesterday morning when I arrived at the house before my son and his family left. My daughter-in-law was holding my nine-month-old grandson. When I walked in the door, he gave me a hearty wave and a big grin. During the visit, he kept trying to grab my coffee away from me. Love that kid…he knows how to set his priorities.
I had intended to devote yesterday afternoon to finishing the Ballad, but shortly after I got to the hotel, the internet went out – and did not come back on until sometime in the night. I thought it was time for it, but I guess it is not quite soup yet. The next two days are packed. I finally get back home Tuesday afternoon – and will devote the latter part of the week to finishing this long-awaited piece. I know I have completely neglected my work this last week – and am going to do so for a few more days. But after Wednesday, I have no more excuses.
They re-printed my piece from earlier in the week over at Church Militant yesterday. You have already read the piece, but a cool feature they added was to embed video from each of the speakers of the day. Thus, you can live the rally without going through security or enduring the chill winds that blew through – although there is a certain charm in being part of the crowd.