Thursday, October 4, 2012

Immersed in Tradition

     Continuing with reflections on this past Monday's Ordination and Installation of Bishop Lawrence T. Persico as the Tenth Bishop of Erie, I would like to share some observations and pictures (courtesy of the Diocese of Erie Website). 

The ceremony took place before an overflow crowd in the beautiful Saint Peter Cathedral in Erie, beginning at 2:30 pm.  Presiding and Principal Ordaining Bishop was Archbishop Charles Chaput, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia, assisted by Retired Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie and our own Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg.  Present also was the Holy Father's representative to the Church in the United States and Nuncio to our government, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano from Washington.  There were two other Archbishops - Giuseppe A. DeAndrea of Rome, one of our former priests, as well as Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, a classmate of Bishop Persico in college seminary.  There were also over twenty other bishops and Religious Superiors in attendance, plus well over two hundred priests and deacons.  The TV news in Erie reported that over four hundred faithful from the Diocese of Greensburg were also present, adding to the overwhelming crowd from Erie itself.

     The ceremony is celebrated within the context of a Eucharistic Liturgy.  After the welcome and introductory Rites, the Liturgy of the Word is celebrated.  Then we enter the Ordination Rite.  The Cathedral Choir sang the Veni, Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit) invoking the Spirit of God in our midst.  The Vicar General of the Erie Diocese presented the Bishop-elect to Archbishop Chaput and the Apostolic Mandate (the document of the Holy Father naming him as bishop) was read and presented to the Consultors of the Diocese and the people for observation.  All give their approval with the words; "Thanks be to God" and applause.  Then Archbishop Chaput gave the homily.

     In actions which go back to Apostolic times and are rich in tradition, the Archbishop asks Bishop Persico a series of questions, followed by the congregation invoking the Saints in a litany of praise while the bishop lay on the floor.

Then comes the ordaining moment, when first Archbishop Chaput then Bishops Trautman and Brandt imposed hands on the head of Bishop Persico.  They are followed by the other bishops present.  This laying on of hands and the Prayer of Ordination with the Book of the Gospels placed over his head is "the" moment of the sharing of the grace of the Sacrament of Orders and assuring Apostolic Succession.

     Then follows the Anointing with Chrism.  When a priest is ordained his hands are anointed ... when a bishop is ordained to the fullness of priesthood, his head is anointed with Sacred Chrism.

The new bishop is presented with the Book of the Gospels and is given his Bishop's ring, his Miter (hat) and his Pastoral Staff.  Then he is taken to the Cathedra (the chair of teaching of the bishop) where he is installed as the bishop of the Diocese, to thunderous applause.

     After the bishops present extended a sign of peace to the new bishop, the Mass continued as usual, until after Communion.  At that time the new bishop, accompanied by Bishops Trautman and Brandt, made a journey through the aisles of the Cathedral, sharing his blessing with all as a hymn of praise (the Te Deum) is sung.  Bishop Persico then made some remarks and expressed his gratitude before giving us his Blessing and bringing the ceremony to a close.
 Bishop Persico with his predecessor, Bishop Trautman
It was a grand day, filled with grace and blessing. 

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