At the conclusion of his 2019 Christmas Eve homily at St. Vincent’s Cathedral,
Bishop Iker made these closing remarks:
This is my last mass as Diocesan Bishop, after 27 years of service. At this time last year, I was unable to be here on Christmas Eve due to my struggles with Stage IV cancer. But God intervened – the Divine entered into the mundane – just as He did at Christmas. By God’s grace and mercy, I have been healed.
Since May, I have been cancer-free, thanks to your prayers and the treatment I received at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston. I thank God every day – many times a day – for how His heavenly power entered into my frail human illness. I am a living miracle.
The second miracle I celebrate tonight is how a farm boy from southern Ohio could become Bishop of the greatest Diocese in the Church, and how God’s grace has sustained me and worked through me all these years.
How blessed I have been – though unworthy as I am – that these frail, human hands have baptized hundreds of children and adults, giving them new life in Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism. How many hundreds I have confirmed, imparting to them the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands with prayer.
How many marriages I have blessed – how many sinners I have absolved – how many sick and dying Christians have I anointed with holy oil for healing and peace! How many young men have I had the joy to ordain to the sacred ministry (54 to be exact!).
And how many countless times have I celebrated the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ at the many altars of this Diocese and then administered to our parishioners the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation.
I have been honored and privileged and blessed to serve in these ways as your Bishop, but none of it has been because of my worthiness or gifts, my merits or my talents. It has all been a marvelous gift of grace – of the miracle of God at work in the common, ordinary events of the life He has given us in His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Thank you, and God bless you with a very, merry Christmas. May He fill you with joy, peace and love.