Continuing with the festivities of these last few days in Erie, Pennsylvania, for the Ordination of Bishop Lawrence T. Persico as the Tenth Bishop of Erie, the formal festivities began Sunday evening at Saint Peter Cathedral in that city. After a beautiful drive north (Erie is in the Northwest corner of the Commonwealth whereas Greensburg is in the Southwest) with a priest friend, Father Chet Raimer from Blairsville, we were greeted with dinner at a classmate's parish of Saint Paul in the "Little Italy" section of the city. Father Alex Amico, the pastor there, provided us with welcome and a dinner and hospitality.
The evening culminated in a celebration of Evening Prayer in Preparation for the Ordination of Lawrence T. Persico, J.C.L. as the Tenth Bishop of Erie. J.C.L are the initials for a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law. Bishop Donald Trautman, the retiring Bishop of Erie presided and was the homilist, with Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States in attendance, along with three other bishops and of course, Monsignor Persico, the Bishop-elect. The Cathedral was nearly full at this open seating function.
The Evening Prayer of the Church is very beautiful, and the choirs (adult and children) did an outstanding job of keeping our hearts and minds turned toward the Lord. The reading was from the Gospel of John (John 13:1,4,5,13-17), and was followed by the homily by Bishop Trautman, who spoke of the significance of these days and the glorious ringing of these Cathedral bells announcing this transitional moment within the Diocese.
Following the homily came three important actions. First was the Profession of Faith, when, with the entire community as a witness, the Bishop-elect professed again the faith that unites us as one in Christ. After he read aloud the Profession of Faith, he then signed the document attesting to that fact on the altar itself. Bishop Trautman then signed as witness. Next came the Oath of Fidelity. The Ordination is not all pomp and ceremony. Bishop Persico, who will exercise an office in the name of the Church, took an Oath of Fidelity with regard to the particular duties of his office. After publically taking the Oath, he signed the document attesting to the fact on the altar, this time with the Nuncio bearing witness with his signature. These documents are then forwarded to Rome.
And thirdly, Bishop Trautman then blessed the insignia of the soon to be bishop: his pectoral cross (the cross worn by the bishop over his heart), his ring (a reminder that he is married to the Church), his miter (the hat that symbolizes his role as teacher), his pastoral staff or crosier (reminding him that he is a shepherd of the flock), and an oil stock (that will be used in the administration of Confirmations). Also on the table with these insignia was a pitcher and bowl, which Bishop Trautman had pointed out was the greatest symbol of them all ... that he was to be a servant of God's children.
Evening Prayer then concluded with prayer and song, and a reception was held in the Cathedral School. It was a quieter, prayerful experience of Church that set the stage for the glorious festivities on the next afternoon. Central to Evening Prayer is the praying of the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, where she gives her fiat, her YES to the invitation and call of God. To couple with that the fiat, the YES of Bishop Persico to the invitation and the call of God to him, was most fitting.