On March 24, 1980, Bishop Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated while celebrating Eucharist in a small hospital chapel. He was my hero.

On March 27, 2004, Bishop Ken Untener, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, died of leukemia. He was my hero and also my good friend. (And his death on March 27th at age 66 coincided with my 61st birthday.)

Oscar Romero and Ken Untener : great men and prophetic bishops.

Ken’s prayer, below, continues to inspire and motivate all who would walk in the footsteps of Romero, Untener, and the Man whose Death and Resurrection we will soon commemorate in Easter faith and hope.

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom [of God] is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.


The prayer was composed by Ken Untener. He wrote it for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in November 1979. Later, as a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Oscar Romero (24 March 1980), he included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.”

John William Greenleaf



  1. This was a beautiful prayer written by a truly holy man. It will inspire all who read It. Thank you for sharing this for all to enjoy!

Leave a Reply to Kathleen RichardsonCancel reply