.- Archbishop Charles Chaput said on July 20 that he was “very grateful” for his time in Denver, and that it would be “very difficult” for him to leave the city for his new post in Philadelphia.
“I have a great love for the people of the Archdiocese of Denver,” Chaput said at Wednesday's press conference, one day after his new appointment was announced. “It's going to be hard—very, very hard for me to leave.”
Two weeks before the public announcement, Chaput received notification that Pope Benedict XVI was appointing him the next Archbishop of Philadelphia. His installation will take place September 8, the date on which the Church commemorates the birth of the Virgin Mary.
In the meantime, Archbishop Chaput said he would continue to lead the Archdiocese of Denver “in a limited kind of way.”
The archbishop reflected on his 14 years in Denver, saying he was most grateful for the opening of two seminaries during his time in the archdiocese.
“We've been blessed to create an environment where we've been able to attract vocations,” he said. “We have two rather extraordinary seminaries with extraordinary seminarians, so I am very grateful to God for that.”
He said he felt “like a father” to the seminarians, some of whom were at the press conference. During the few weeks before his official installation in Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput plans to meet with the laity, seminarians and religious of the Denver archdiocese to “thank them for what they've been to me.”
Representatives from some of the other groups that benefited from Archbishop Chaput's leadership, such as the Augustine Institute, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, and the Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women program, were also in attendance at the press conference.
Dr. Timothy Gray, the president of the Augustine Institute, told CNA that the archbishop's “vision for laity formation” helped establish the graduate studies program six years ago.
Jeremy Rivera, communications director for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, described the archbishop as “a very smart visionary.”
Gray said he knew the archbishop's move elsewhere was “only a matter of time.” But he was surprised at his own sadness upon hearing the news. “You can't replace a friend you've had for 20 years,” he said.
The Augustine Institute president remains hopeful that the next archbishop will have the “same energy for the new evangelization” as Archbishop Chaput does.
For his part, Archbishop Chaput is embracing the bittersweet news of his new appointment as a calling to “a new adventure.”
“The image that comes to mind is all of a sudden I have a new wife,” he said. “And that's quite an adventure isn't it? Especially if you don't know her in advance.”