Richard O. Gerow: The Jackson Years, 1948-1966
I have very much to be thankful for. First of all, I am thankful that the Lord gave me a good pious Catholic mother and father--though not a Catholic until his last illness, was a good example to his young son. For this faith given me by God through the instrumentality of my mother I can never be too grateful.
For my physical health, too, I am grateful. . . . God, too, has been good in calling me to the Priesthood and to the Episcopacy, and while I have had problems in my work, in all, my life has been a happy one.
I have many friends--religious, clergy, and laity--and as far as I know I have no enemies. This, of course, adds to my happiness. . . .
In all I am very happy--God has been good to me--I thank Him. 1
Bishop Gerow wrote this at the ripe age of 82. In all the things he had seen, had been through, and had accomplished, he reflected back on what was most important to him and on what he was most thankful for--his parents, his faith, his priesthood and episcopacy, and his friends. In the same diary entry, he added that he was quite content because he still had an office in the chancery that he had built in 1948, he had nice residential quarters in Jackson, and he was able to fish each day and take photographs of wildflowers and other scenes of nature.
What makes this entry so significant is that it demonstrates, beyond a doubt, the very simplicity of Bishop Gerow. After a long life, he relished most what was so basic and so often taken for granted by many people. It was the revelation of a man who seldom let anyone see him so closely and honestly.
In many respects, this very simplicity carried Bishop Gerow throughout his episcopacy. Nowhere was this more clearly seen than during his years in Jackson, Mississippi. While simplicity was the key to Gerow's nature, that was not the overriding characteristic of what happened in the diocese after 1948. Between 1948 and 1966, when Gerow retired, he and his diocese faced problems and challenges never before witnessed by the Mississippi church. In fact, the state of Mississippi and even the nation as a whole saw a major transformation of unprecedented propor-