BALTIMORE — Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, the outgoing general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, looked out at the 240 bishops gathered in Baltimore, a deep feeling of gratitude in his heart.
His years with the conference, the last five as general secretary, were enriching and rewarding, he told the bishops Nov. 17 during their annual fall general assembly.
He recalled the words of Pope Francis during his visit to Ecuador in July in remarks to close the public sessions of the assembly.
“‘Please do not forget the grace of gratitude. It’s a gift from Jesus,'” he quoted the pope as saying.
“As I reflect on my time at the conference, it’s not very difficult for me to follow the Holy Father’s advice,” said the priest of the Diocese of Austin, Texas.
The general secretariat oversees the work of the USCCB on behalf of the bishops.
He went on to thank the bishops for their support and for making his duties “much lighter and more enjoyable.” He credited his colleagues, including associate general secretary Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, whom the bishops elected to succeed him, for their immense skills and talents.
“Msgr. Bransfield is one of the finest priests and incredibly intelligent colleagues I have known. I assure you you will not be disappointed in the excellent choice you have made,” he said.
A canon lawyer who was conference associate general secretary from 2006 to 2011, Msgr. Jenkins also said he was blessed to work in a setting in which the bishops showed unity “as brothers in service to the church,” noting that he was inspired by the bishops’ “constant witness to collegiality and fraternity.”
The final blessing, he said, came from working with the staff around him. He said his job was made easier because of the work of the senior staff and his colleagues on the fifth floor of the conference headquarters near the Basilica of the National Shrine Church of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington. He credited them for being “the very best.”
“So thank you again for the opportunity to serve,” he concluded. “I assure you of my daily prayers for you, your episcopal ministry and the success of the conference.”