LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville told Catholics of the archdiocese that his chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments for his cancer will be completed by Oct. 20 and he will be able to return to Louisville then and prepare for surgery he must undergo Nov. 11.
The archbishop, who gave an update on his health Sept. 16, has been undergoing intense treatment for bladder and prostate cancer at Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, N.C. What he described as “radical surgery” will take place at the institute.
“Greetings and prayers to all of you, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville!” he said in a letter published in the online issue of The Record, Louisville’s archdiocesan newspaper. “I am writing to give you an update on my medical treatment and to express deep gratitude for your prayers and support. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the cards and letters and the deep faith and affection that they express.”
Archbishop Kurtz, who turned 73 Aug. 18, announced July 10 in an online post in The Record that he had been diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma in his bladder and prostate and would remain in North Carolina during 12 weeks of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.
“While urothelial carcinoma is somewhat common, the form I have and its location is not,” he wrote Sept. 16. “Because of the aggressive nature of the cancer, I will be required to have this radical surgery on Nov. 11 and should find out by Thanksgiving what ongoing treatment or limitations will be present.”
“My stamina remains very good and, while I need to be careful to avoid crowds because of the proclivity to infection, I have been encouraged to remain active and prepare for the surgery,” he said.
While he has been in North Carolina, Archbishop Kurtz has been in regular contact with Father Martin Linebach and Brian Reynolds, archdiocesan vicar general and chancellor, respectively.
In his health update, he noted that Father Linebach had traveled to North Carolina recently “so that he and I could continue to develop pastoral directions on the horizons before us.” He was expecting a visit soon from Reynolds and Father Jeff Shooner, vicar for priests, so they could “discuss additional pastoral issues that I need to address this fall.”
“I am deeply grateful to them and to all the staff who work with them in supporting the parishes and archdiocesan ministries,” the archbishop said.
He listed a number of events that have taken place in his absence he has regretted missing:
“The dedication of the newly rebuilt church of Our Lady of the Caves that had been destroyed by fire, the opening Mass for Catholic school teachers, the gathering of our Catholic Services Appeal Salt and Light community for an evening of renewed friendship and recommitment to the support of ministries throughout the archdiocese, and the recent Red and Blue Masses at the cathedral are just a few examples of those visits that I yearned to be part of.”
He also was sad to have missed being able to visit parishes in the archdiocese over the summer, visits he made when he was a pastor, before becoming a bishop, he noted, and something he has continued as Louisville’s archbishop.
“Visiting with parishioners and even simply walking the streets of the parish and meeting strangers were sources of joy and great opportunities for outreach and announcing the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said.
On the national level, Archbishop Kurtz had to step down as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty. Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Mass., was appointed July 23 to serve as acting chairman of the committee by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Let us continue to pray for one another and support one another,” Archbishop Kurtz wrote Sept. 16. “I am told that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Certainly, this is true in my affection for all of you as I serve as your archbishop and in my eagerness to return home.”