St. Gregory of Neocaesarea converted to Christianity while a student of Origen, the 3rd century Christian scholar and theologian. Gregory's zeal for souls and passion for learning led him down the path to being appointed bishop of his hometown, Neocaesarea, at age 40. Though only 17 Christians lived there, he continued to preach there for 30 years. When St. Gregory died in 270, only 17 pagans remained. St. Gregory is known to have worked numerous miracles according to testimonies of those who encountered him. He moved a huge boulder that prevented the building of a church. He altered the course of a flooding river by planting a staff in the river bank, which took root and grew into a tree. The waters never rose past it.
Reflection: Gregory's biography helps us understand that this bishop was first and foremost a shepherd who spent much time defending the churches in his charge from the imperial persecutions of his day. His sense of duty and his strong conscience drove him to protect his sheep to the best of his ability. What a marvelous heroic figure to be emulated by our bishops in view of the imperious oppression rising from the Obama administration.