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From the Bishop


March 22, 2019

Dear Friends and Partners in Ministry,

Donna and I return to Houston on Tuesday evening, March 26, for me begin three days of “bazooka“ (high-powered) chemotherapy as an outpatient at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. On Sunday, March 31, I will be admitted as an inpatient and my CAR T-cell therapy begins with long, daily infusions at the Hospital on April 1 and continues for about nine days. In order to be close at hand for possible side effects that may require me to return to the hospital, we will be remaining at a facility adjacent to M.D. Anderson until April 30, when we hope to be able to return home to Fort Worth and so I can reengage in my pastoral duties.

During my absence, all Sunday morning confirmation visitations will be made by Bishop Keith Ackerman, and Bishop Wantland will be celebrant and preacher at the annual Chrism Mass on the Tuesday of Holy Week at the Cathedral. The affected visitations are:

  • St. Barnabas, Fort Worth – Lent IV, March 31
  • Christ Church, Waco – Lent V, April 7
  • St. Laurence, Southlake – Easter II, April 28

No visitations are scheduled for Palm Sunday or Easter. 

I am deeply grateful that Fr. Jay Atwood, President of the Standing Committee, will bring me the Blessed Sacrament and anoint me in Houston on Maundy Thursday, since I will be unable to attend Holy Week services this year.

Thank you for your continued prayers and petitions on my behalf, as well as for Donna and our family in the weeks to come. Please continue to pray for divine healing by God’s grace and for a successful response to this innovative treatment that enables my lab-engineered T cells to seek and destroy all cancer cells in my body.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.“ Philippians 4:6

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack. L. Iker
Third Bishop of Fort Worth




March 13, 2019

Following screening tests conducted Monday in Houston, I have been assigned to the CAR T-cell therapy research group at M.D. Anderson (MDA) Cancer Center. Though still in trial use, this is the premier treatment for large B-cell lymphoma available through modern cancer research. It has shown very promising results so far and offers the greatest possible hope for remission.

CAR treatment uses immune system cells (T cells) from the patient, which are then modified with special proteins to target the specific cancer type and grown in large numbers. This lab work is done in California and requires two to three weeks to complete. Then the immune cells are infused back into the patient, where they recognize and target the cancer aggressively. MDA has a brief video about this process available on its Web site or through YouTube.

The procedure to remove a sample of my immune cells was conducted Tuesday, March 12. Donna and I have now returned to Fort Worth. The results of the biopsy performed last week will tell the lab how to re-engineer the cells.

Along with the CAR T-cell infusion, the treatment protocol requires a very high dosage of chemotherapy. The treatment program begins as early as March 26. Side effects of both parts of this therapy can be considerable, so I will be admitted as an in-patient during treatments and be required to remain in the Houston area for as much as 30 days.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Donna and me, and for the hospital and lab personnel involved with the trial program. 

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack. L. Iker
Third Bishop of Fort Worth




March 6, 2019

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God;
let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Psalm 143:10

Life is full of ups and downs. We sometimes encounter unexpected difficulties or dangerous curves in the road ahead. To be human is to live with unpredictability.  To be Christian is to live by simple faith and a childlike trust in God. Each day we pray the Holy Spirit to teach us how to please God and to lead us on level ground, to make our paths smooth and straight.

To be human is also to be frail sinners, who often stumble and fall. Many times we do not please God or follow the guidance of the Spirit. As Christians we often need times to repent, to ask forgiveness, and to start all over again. Ash Wednesday is such a day, and Lent is such a season – 40 days for daily self-examination, repentance, and new starts. In our daily prayers and Bible readings, we find that the mercy and lovingkindness of the Lord is abundant and new every morning.

In secular terms, we always celebrate New Year’s Day as an opportunity for a fresh new start, and we adopt various well-intentioned resolutions, intended to help us become healthier, or happier, or better people. In the Church Year, Advent is the beginning of a new year for Christians, full of hope and joy as we prepare to receive the promised Messiah, who will save us and deliver us from our sins. And here too we must cooperate with grace, by seeking a new start, with daily disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and meditation. So what shall we resolve to do this Lent?

Nearly every church in our Diocese offers some sort of Lenten program or weekday Eucharist to help us learn how to please God and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. My call to each of you this Lent, as a faithful member of our Church family, is to take part in such opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity. Worship God every Sunday in His Church, and in addition to whatever other things you may give up or take on in your Lenten Rule of Life, make time for a weekday mass as well, or a study series. If for any reason your church isn’t able to provide this, perhaps you can visit a congregation not far away.

“Teach me and help me, oh God, each day, how to please you where your Spirit leads.”

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack. L. Iker
Third Bishop of Fort Worth
in my 26th year of consecration




 

Click here to read the Bishop’s Address to the 36th Annual Convention