Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Bishop-elect: Trust in God when he moves us out of our comfort zone

Published: July 23, 2022

By Bishop-elect Erik Pohlmeier
Director of Faith Formation, Diaconate Formation

“Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act.” Psalm 37 captures a sentiment that people of faith strive to live by. We speak of God’s will in our lives with sincere hearts. And yet, as human beings, we cling pretty tightly to our ideas of how our journey should progress.

I often find myself with some interior tension about a desire for God to act in my life but not in a way that pushes me outside my comfort zone. Of course, with hindsight, I can see the examples of how God’s way was the better way. And so, the Christian way is a way that calls us to deeper trust in the Lord.

As I write something of a farewell article for this newspaper, I am immersed in the call to trust in a new way. On the day of my ordination to the diaconate, I promised obedience to Bishop Andrew J. Mc-Donald and the Church. On that day, I formally committed my way to the Lord. I have worked to grow in trust, and the Lord has certainly acted.

For my new path, and for whatever path you are on, I offer the words of the psalmist. “Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act.”

Looking back on 24 years of ministry in the Diocese of Little Rock, my trust grows precisely because I can see many ways the Lord has acted. Among the parishioners I have served, God has been present in both obvious and subtle ways.

I have been a priest long enough to have people come to me years after an encounter in ministry. They will recount a moment in the hospital or some work with their family and speak with gratitude for a grace of God that has lingered and borne fruit in unexpected ways. They will point to a son or a daughter, no longer a child, and beam with pride for all that has been accomplished.

It is my honor to share those moments and be reminded that God does act and is worthy of trust. This is a lesson I cling to as a new ministry begins. My initial reaction was shock when the papal nuncio called with the news that Pope Francis appointed me as bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla.

Fortunately, my schedule soon took me into a five day silent retreat with the deacon candidates. With a chance to focus on God speaking, I was reminded of my promise of obedience and commitment to the way of the Lord. My shock gave way to trust.

As people learned the news, I was inundated with promises of prayer, and the Lord was acting. Bishops from around the country congratulated me and spoke of how many people’s prayer sustains them more palpably. This has been my experience during the days of transition.

My goal as a priest in Arkansas has always been to draw people into a deeper connection with the God of all creation. The sacraments I have celebrated offer transforming grace. The words I have spoken were motivated by a desire to open hearts.

For my successes, I am grateful to God. For my failures, I seek the mercy of God and rely on his healing touch. My goal as a bishop is the same. My responsibility is changing, but God never changes.

For my new path, and for whatever path you are on, I offer the words of the psalmist. “Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act.”

Bishop-elect Erik Pohlmeier was formerly the pastor of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, theological consultant for Arkansas Catholic and director of faith formation and permanent diaconate formation in the Diocese of Little Rock. He was ordained the bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., July 22.

Understanding Our Church