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Wolf, who turns 64 next month, broke the news to some of her staff Thursday, her first day back after undergoing knee replacement surgery on Jan. 31.
She made a more public disclosure on Saturday at the close of an evangelism convocation attended by priests and lay people at the Providence Marriott.
Although she limps a bit, and is using a cane, the bishop said the repairs to her knee, which have temporarily kept her from climbing the stairs to her second-floor bishop’s office, had nothing to do with her planned retirement.
Rather, she said, it was a sense of time.
“To tell you the truth, I thought about it several times over the last few years, but I either felt it was a little too soon or I was too young.”
After her marriage four years ago to businessman Thomas Charles Bair Jr. in a colorful ceremony in April 2007 in Providence’s Cathedral of St. John, Bishop Wolf says she thought about it again but decided that wasn’t a good time either.
“But now I’ll be at the age that most people retire. It would be nice to see what other things could be in store on the other side of 65, though I don’t know what that may be.
“As long as I have the energy and vitality, I might as well say to the Lord, ‘What will you have me do now?”’
Even after 15 years on the job, the bishop admits she still doesn’t know the number of Episcopalians in Rhode Island.
“Some surveys say there are 35,000 Episcopalians. That’s not true. Another says there are 17,000. We know that’s not true.”
The real number, she said, could be as low as 7,000, with about half of them attending church on any given week.
The dwindling number of churchgoers, along with a decline in the number of congregations — from 64 parishes and missions in 1996 to 55 today — has also led to a financial shortfall that she wants to address before a new bishop takes over.
“Just like the City of Providence and State of Rhode Island, we are in very difficult times. We are merging churches, closing churches. We have lost income and anticipate losing more income. That means we have to right-size the budget for these times.”
Sunday, March 06, 2011