By ERIKA ANDERSON, Special To The Bulletin | Published April 11, 2013
I was getting ready to leave for work when my phone rang Jan. 3. Mary Anne Castranio, executive editor of The Georgia Bulletin, called me with important news.
“I just wanted to let you know before you hear it somewhere else. The Vatican has named Msgr. Talley an auxiliary bishop,” she said.
“Wait. MY Msgr. Talley?” I asked.
“Yes,” Mary Anne said, laughing. “Your Msgr. Talley.”
This wasn’t just a priest I had sort of gotten to know during my 10 years as a staff writer at The Georgia Bulletin. This was my friend. And now he was going to become a bishop. I couldn’t stop the happy tears.
I first met Bishop David Talley when I was a reporter. When he served as chancellor of the archdiocese, I often turned to him for information for stories. But it was when I started to volunteer at Toni’s Camp, the weekend retreat offered by the archdiocesan Disabilities Ministry, that I really got to know our new bishop.
I started volunteering at Toni’s Camp, then referred to as Camp Will-A-Way, in 1999. It was an experience that profoundly affected me, and this year, I’ll attend my 15th camp, now as a member of the staff.
Besides our beloved campers, Bishop Talley is the single most important person at Toni’s Camp. He trades his clerics in for the red shirts of the staff and works just as hard—if not harder—than anyone else. But more than that, Bishop Talley meets those who attend camp—both volunteer and camper—on their level.
Bishop Talley is the welcoming voice they hear when they arrive. Bishop Talley is the loudest cheerleader when a camper finally takes the plunge across the zip line, sometimes after standing there for minutes. Bishop Talley is the one who encourages new counselors—giving them support when they are nervous. Bishop Talley is the one who sends us off with the most beautiful Mass one could ever attend—a special experience that wraps our weekend camp in a beautiful, liturgical bow.
And Bishop Talley is my friend and trusted mentor I’ve become blessed to know. He has checked my cabin for snakes. He has listened to me cry during moments of frustration. He’s heard my confession. He even encouraged me to start dating again after a long absence.
He is humble, honest, kind and compassionate—the perfect bishop. When I attended his ordination Mass, the sense of pride I felt was like one I’d feel for a family member. That’s probably because I think of him as such.
I was talking with Kirial De Rozas-Miles, who worked with Bishop Talley when he was chancellor. I told her my reaction upon finding out he’d been named a bishop. “MY Msgr. Talley?”
“No,” she said. “He’s MY Msgr. Talley.”
I laughed and said I bet we’d not be the only two to claim him.
And isn’t that the way it should be?