By Barb Arland-Fye
With humility and gratitude, characteristics he’s well known for, Bishop Emeritus William Franklin thanked diocesan staff for naming a conference room in his honor at the St. Vincent Center in Davenport.
Msgr. John Hyland, the diocese’s vicar general, announced the award during the April 18 chancery staff meeting at which Bishop Franklin and his successor, Bishop Martin Amos, were present.
While they were in Rome last month, Bishop Amos and Msgr. Hyland learned of a congratulatory letter from Pope Benedict XVI to honor Bishop Franklin on the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop April 1.
“We were trying to think of an appropriate gift for Bishop Franklin,” Msgr. Hyland told staff and retired priests gathered for the April 18 meeting in the third-floor large conference room. St. Vincent Center underwent a major renovation in 2010 and the conference room was added then. Turning toward the bishop, Msgr. Hyland said, “We decided to name this room in the chancery after you.”
Bishop Amos pointed out memorabilia from Bishop Franklin’s episcopacy, which Chancellor and Archivist Father George McDaniel gathered for display in the Bishop William E. Franklin Conference Room — along with the Holy Father’s congratulatory letter. Bishop Amos handed the conference room plaque to Bishop Franklin and asked him to say a few words.
Bishop Franklin began with the story of his birth and his emergency baptism that same day. “God’s gift for me began on the day I was born, May 3, 1930,” Bishop Franklin said. He’s been a Catholic all of his life, but joked that the quality of his membership “might be up for grabs.”
Kidding aside, he thanked God for the gift of faith. The bishop said he might have stayed put working in a machine shop in Cedar Rapids, but someone suggested he ought to consider the priesthood. “God allowed me to work at his altar, and to work with his people.”
The bishop said he can look back on his life and see how the Church has grown and changed and how God’s plan for him unfolded. He advised the staff that “God works through you. When you go to bed and before you go to sleep, say ‘Thank you, God, for allowing me to be your missionary.”
Bishop Franklin thanked the staff for honoring him, but more importantly, “thanks to you, my love for the Catholic Church didn’t end with my ordination.”
At Bishop Amos’ request, Bishop Franklin blessed the people in the conference room and prayed that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit would be with them always, “not only for today, but for the rest of your life and all of eternity.”