Bishop Cai and I were, as far as bishops and parishioners go, pretty tight. He bought me a Christmas present and threw a farewell luncheon for me; I texted him while I was in China and have emailed him since I left.
So why was I so nervous to meet with my American bishop today? I don’t know, but I was.
I’ve been working on a letter to Bishop Cai for over a month now, and got the idea that it would be cool to include a picture of me with my bishop here. So on a whim, I emailed the Diocese of Tulsa Chancery explaining my story in brief and asking if I could meet with Bishop Slattery.
And we made an appointment for this morning at 10.
I didn’t really know what to expect. As most of my experience with bishops had been in Chinese (and in China), I wasn’t 100% sure how to address a bishop or how to greet him. Turns out, a simple handshake will suffice, and he didn’t seem offended that I didn’t address him as Your Excellency.
I was actually greeted first by a reporter and photographer, who sat in on my chat with the bishop. Look for me in the Jan/Feb issue of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic! I didn’t know they were going to be there, but it did mean that I got a nice picture of me and Bishop Slattery:
We chatted for about a half hour, talking about my experiences in China and his (he had been to Hong Kong and possibly Shenzhen 30 years ago), and discussing the state of the Church over there. It was definitely nothing to worry about; hindsight usually reveals that, doesn’t it?
Just before I left, I gave him the watch that Bishop Cai had given me on my last day. It’s a huge, beautiful, self-winding example of engineering at its finest, engraved with 厦门教区 蔡炳瑞晋牧纪念 2010.05.08 (Xiamen Diocese, Ordination of Cai BingRui, May 8, 2010) on the back.
It was intended as a present for my father but he doesn’t wear watches. I wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate it but couldn’t think of anyone until the obvious answer leapt out at me a few days ago.
Bishop Slattery seemed very pleased at the gift. In return, he gave me a handwritten letter for Bishop Cai. I am going to translate it as best I can and then send off a small package to Xiamen in the next few days!