A tribute to Bishop Edward J. Slattery

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley              May 15, 2016

On Sunday, May 8, I had the privilege of presiding at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Family
Cathedral in Tulsa in gratitude for Bishop Edward Slattery’s 50 years of priestly ministry. 

Father Slattery was ordained a priest on April 26, 1966, for the Archdiocese of Chicago where he
served in a variety of pastoral assignments, including many years as president of the Catholic
Extension Society. Late in 1993, he was named the third bishop of Tulsa and on the Solemnity of
the Epiphany of the Lord in January 1994, Pope (now Saint) John Paul II bestowed upon him his
episcopal ordination at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

 

For the past 22 years, Bishop Slattery has been a good shepherd guiding the Church in eastern
Oklahoma. As all bishops must do upon reaching the age of 75, Bishop Slattery has submitted
his letter of resignation to Pope Francis and now awaits the Holy Father’s acceptance of that
resignation and the appointment of his successor. That could be imminent. In any case, once that
successor is named, much of the attention and interest will naturally turn to the new bishop-designate. 

Before that occurs, I want to take this opportunity to express my own appreciation for Bishop
Slattery. When I was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Oklahoma City he
was among the first to reach out to me in welcome. It has been a joy to collaborate with him. On
behalf of the entire Church in Oklahoma, I want to express our gratitude for the many years of
dedicated episcopal leadership given by Bishop Slattery. 

Bishop Slattery’s episcopal ministry has helped strengthen the Church in eastern Oklahoma in a
variety of ways. He has built upon the firm foundations laid by those good shepherds who went
before him.

He, in his turn, has been a good steward of the gifts and talents of the faithful as can
be easily noted in the construction of churches, schools and a beautiful new Catholic Charities
campus. 

He has fostered vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life and shown a shepherd’s care for
his priests and religious in the diocese. He welcomed a variety of new religious institutes,
including the Benedictines of Clear Creek Abbey, who have contributed to the witness of the
Church through so many diverse charisms. He has touched the lives of countless individuals
through his pastoral visits, countless confirmations and numerous ordinations to the priesthood
and diaconate over which he has presided. He has been attentive to the threefold office of
teaching, governing and sanctifying God’s holy people.

A bishop has many tasks that require his careful attention. The episcopal life and ministry is a busy one. One of the things that has inspired me about Bishop Slattery is how deeply he has rooted his episcopal ministry in prayer. Neither a priest nor a bishop can live like a monk. That would lead to the neglect of his pastoral duties. Nonetheless, throughout his years of ministry
Bishop Slattery has given witness to the importance of prayer and the primacy of God’s grace in ministry. He has done this through his preaching, through his teaching and especially through his personal witness.

He has truly lived in the spirit of his episcopal motto which proclaims, “Tu Solus Sanctus,” “You alone are the Holy One.”
Bishop Slattery’s life and ministry has drawn its vitality from a deep communion with God through prayer, both his personal prayer
and his appreciation for the liturgy, the prayer of the Church.

Whomever the Holy Father appoints as the Fourth Bishop of Tulsa, he will follow a succession
of shepherds who have truly been good and faithful servants. Thank you, Bishop Slattery!