Tributes paid leader of Catholic diocese

" `Here and there, and now and then, God makes a giant among men.' Such a giant is William K. Weigand," said President Thomas S. Monson in a tribute Jan. 10 to the bishop of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, was among LDS Church leaders who gathered at a dinner with some 800 religious and civic leaders at the Salt Lake Marriott to honor Bishop Weigand.Bishop Weigand, who has been bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City for more than 13 years, is being assigned as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, Calif. He is expected to assume his new post in late January.

He came to Utah in September 1980, having been named by Pope John Paul II to head the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, which covers all of Utah and now has 75,000 members. It was announced in November that the pope has assigned him to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., which has a membership of 300,000.

Among those joining President Monson to represent the LDS Church in honoring Bishop Weigand, 56, were Elders David B. Haight, James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and John E. Fowler of the Seventy.

President Monson said of the Catholic leader: "He came as one unknown, then captured our hearts, kindled our faith and prompted our action. The spirit of cooperation among those of various faiths in the Salt Lake Valley has never been better.

"His accomplishments have been heroic, not the least of which has been the overall direction of the restoration of the Cathedral of the Madeleine [an 85-year-old cathedral in Salt Lake CityT. But this should not overshadow the down-to-earth labors which he and his associates have undertaken with the poor, the homeless, the hungry.

"Of course, this is the pattern set by Jesus of Nazareth as exemplified by His ministry, and Bishop Weigand has done it all with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips.

"As with Robert Louis Stevenson, Bishop Weigand can say, `I know what real pleasure is, for I have done good work.' "

President Monson delighted those attending the dinner as he related one of the many experiences he has had in his associations with Bishop Weigand: "At the dedication of the new St. Vincent de Paul Center, I was sitting on the front row with other religious leaders. Bishop Weigand offered a prayer of dedication and then holy water was cast to the left and the right. Bishop Weigand was situated very close to me and was perhaps a little exuberant - hence, some of the water landed on me. I later chided Bishop Weigand and asked if he were attempting to baptize me. He answered, `Not really - but it didn't hurt you!' I detected that ready smile and pleasant disposition behind that comment."

President Monson further said: "Bishop Weigand has served with dignity and efficiency and has never lost the human touch. Alas, the comfort of his presence amongst us has been altered. I am confident he leaves with the love of all of us and with perhaps a little trepidation as he assumes a new responsibility among those whom he has yet to meet and whom he will serve.

"The words of M. Louise Haskins, spoken by King George in his New Year's broadcast to the British Empire during the darkest days of World War II, would be my thought as Bishop Weigand departs our presence: I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he replied: `Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.' "

President Monson concluded his remarks, saying, "En Espanol: Obispo Weigand, vaya con Dios. Go with God, and His blessings."

Elder Faust, in speaking with the Church News, commented on his association with the Catholic leader in Salt Lake City. "It has been a pleasure to work with Bishop Weigand. He has been very open and cooperative on moral issues. He has made a considerable contribution to the community."

Civic leaders emphasized Bishop Weigand's spiritual contributions to

a diverse Salt Lake community. "Bishop Weigand has brought together people of so many different backgrounds," said Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini. "He has assisted the youth, the homeless, and the poor. And he has also stepped in and become involved in the fight against gangs. Bishop Weigand has shown that churches can make a difference in the community."

Bishop Weigand said he was "dazzled and honored" by praise offered throughout the evening. In his remarks, the Catholic leader encouraged those present at the dinner to be mindful of spiritual values and community service.

"I believe that our greatest needs for the future will be in terms of our value system," he said. "Of great importance will be whether we have properly shaped the minds of people, regardless of their background. The value of people's lives needs to be honored - including the unborn."

Among others making remarks at the dinner were Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, and the Rev. Joseph M. Mayo, president of the diocese's presbyterial council. Former Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis was master of ceremonies. - Gerry Avant

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