Dear Faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville,
Greetings and prayers to all of you, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville! I am writing to give you an update on my medical treatment and to express deep gratitude for your prayers and support. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the cards and letters and the deep faith and affection that they express. In a recent article on the family in The Priest Magazine, the author quoted Saint John Paul II in speaking of the family and expressing the late Holy Father’s desire “to knock at the door of your home, eager to greet you with deep affection and to spend time with you.” (Gratissimam Sane, # 1). His words resemble the sentiments so often expressed by Pope Francis, and they are words that fill my heart.
Before becoming a bishop when I was a pastor, I so enjoyed parish visitation during the summer. Visiting with parishioners and even simply walking the streets of the parish and meeting strangers were sources of joy and great opportunities for outreach and announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ. As Archbishop, I participate in similar visits with our local Church that I sadly had to miss this year. The dedication of the newly rebuilt church of Our Lady of the Caves that had been destroyed by fire, the opening Mass for Catholic school teachers, the gathering of our Catholic Services Appeal Salt and Light community for an evening of renewed friendship and recommitment to the support of ministries throughout the Archdiocese, and the recent Red and Blue Masses at the Cathedral are just a few examples of those visits that I yearned to be part of.
Recently Father Martin Linebach, Vicar General, traveled to North Carolina so that he and I could continue to develop pastoral directions on the horizons before us, and in another week Dr. Brian Reynolds, Chancellor, and Father Jeff Shooner, Vicar for Priests, will visit me to discuss additional pastoral issues that I need to address this fall. I am deeply grateful to them and to all the staff who work with them in supporting the parishes and archdiocesan ministries.
Permit me also to give you an update on my progress with the cancer treatment and the steps ahead. I met with my surgeon for the first time this past week and learned that I will be able to return to Louisville around October 20 for three weeks. Hallelujah! This date will mark the completion of the chemotherapy and immunotherapy and will allow me to be strengthened for the radical surgery that will occur at the Duke Cancer Institute on November 11. After the surgery, I hope to be released by my surgeon at Thanksgiving. While urothelial carcinoma is somewhat common, the form I have and its location is not. Because of the aggressive nature of the cancer, I will be required to have this radical surgery on November 11 and should find out by Thanksgiving what ongoing treatment or limitations will be present.
My stamina remains very good and, while I need to be careful to avoid crowds because of the proclivity to infection, I have been encouraged to remain active and prepare for the surgery.
Let us continue to pray for one another and support one another. I am told that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Certainly, this is true in my affection for all of you as I serve as your Archbishop and in my eagerness to return home.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville