Q&A with Bishop-elect Ned Shlesinger

On May 15 Bishop-elect Ned Shlesinger shared the news that he was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. After the press conference, he spent a busy week in Atlanta, meeting people and going about tasks such as official photographs and a ring. But when NC Catholics caught up with him the next week, he was parked near the South Platte River in Colorado and ready to carry on with one of his favorite hobbies—trout fishing.

NC Catholics: At the press conference you mentioned the priests and people of the Diocese of Raleigh. How hard it is to leave behind the diocese?

Bishop-elect Ned Shlesinger: It’s not so much I will lose my heart for the Diocese of Raleigh, but I had a “heart transplant.” [He laughs.] I won’t be working side by side with them … I will put all my effort and all my heart into the Archdiocese of Atlanta. If you can imagine shifting from what you know to what you don’t know … it’s a big transition. I’m starting from scratch … to feel a part of a new reality.

NCC: What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

BNS: Meeting the clergy and the lay faithful in Atlanta … I am looking forward to meeting my new family.

NCC: What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

BNS: I would say that the spiritual challenge right now is to know that this is not about me. This is about the work of God. The challenge is to remember that as you become a bishop, externally, you put on the apparel of a bishop. You know, the mitre. But, in doing so, you realize this is not about you. You’re ordained for the people. I have to live out the vocation that Christ has called me to. 

NCC: Given your background in the Air Force, do you carry a sense of duty? Is that still part of who you are?

BNS: Sure. I think it’s a great responsibility. There is a lot of being dutiful, yes, but I think it’s more about being faithful to Christ. For me, being faithful means listening to Christ and realizing it’s about what he can do through me.

NCC: One thing before we go. We heard you once had a goldfish. Tell us about it.

BNS: I was living at St. Joseph [Parish] in Raleigh, and I just realized I was all alone in my apartment, so I was the only living organism there. So I first decided to get a plant … but after that I decided well, I think I could be responsible for caring for a goldfish, so I got a goldfish, and when I got home there was somebody waiting for me to take care of him. [Laughter.] I called it Orange [he says with accent], which is French for Orange. [Laughter]